By Gareth R Roberts
This is not a drill anymore. This is not something that can be passed off as a phase, something for people to talk about when there’s nothing on the Telly, or when you’re down the pub, or sitting next to the boring person from work who’s invited you and your Mrs round for dinner.
This is much, much worse than that.
Our politics is being wrenched apart. Actually, I’m going further than that, our society is being wrenched apart – and frankly I’m terrified.
And when I say wrenched, I mean it. It goes well beyond the realignment of the political plates such as when the Tories changed from One Nation Heathite to Thatcherism or when Labour decided to leap from Blair to Corbyn; no, this is an earthquake that comes together with a tsunami and ends up with poverty and homelessness and probably an appeal involving Bob Geldof and Lenny Henry.
Project Fear you say? Well you can fuck right off; the things we feared would accompany Brexit are nothing compared to the things that we need to worry about now. I can cope with queues at Dover, I can cope with an increase in the price of bacon, I can cope with having to wait for an hour to get out of the Easy Jet queue at Tenerife airport, but I draw the line at the systematic undermining of the institutions that have worked pretty efficiently at maintaining our democracy for the last couple of hundred years. And, most of all, I draw a line at a concerted attempt to pit me against my fellow Brits.
Since Johnson (I refused to call him by his first name, or even write his first name), became Prime Minister – elected by absolutely no one I know or would care to know – our executive has become a danger to our society. I don’t write that sentence lightly, I’ve thought about it and I urge you to do the same – our executive is now a danger to our society. It is why I’m so scared, because it is absolutely unique in our political history for us to have a government which no longer has as its primary intention a desire to keep us all safe and healthy, educated and content, but instead seeks to pit us against each other by stirring up hatred and discontent and anger.
English nationalism, that’s why, English nationalism wrapped up in the idiocy of Brexit.
We shouldn’t be here. It should never have happened. I’ll give you a brief potted history according to me – ignore it if you want. By 2010, the Tories had decided that they’d had enough of not being in control. David Cameron, wanted to win power for himself and for his party and for his class (yep, I’ll stand by that, there is a class element to all of this, and it’s class with a fucked up capital ‘c’). He wanted to kill off the Lib-Dems – which was easy, Clegg’s party of Lemmings, simply jumped off the cliff for him; and he wanted to kill off UKIP, because they could potentially take enough votes to keep him out of Downing Street. So he dreamt up the policy of an ‘in-out’ referendum on our membership of the EU. In the short term it did the trick for him – in the 2015 general election Cameron was elected with a small but workable majority, but in the long term it has been a disaster. Because Cameron – possibly the embodiment of upper-class, self-entitled, tie and crest, arrogance – hadn’t conceived that he might lose a referendum or what to do if that came to pass. So, far from killing off the right wing his referendum brought about Brexit – the most crippling act of national self-harm that this country has ever inflicted upon itself.
Cameron immediately resigned, because he hadn’t the wit or imagination to do anything else, and in his place Brexit monsters started to grow and thrive: just as the Orcs were created in the sulphurous pits of Mordor by that evil Wizard in The Hobbit, so Farage, Cummings, Aaron Banks, Mark Francois, Jacob Rees-fucking-Mogg and a legion of others were created on the anvil of Brexit. And these people are English Nationalists – they hate Europe, they hate the idea of collegiate international cooperation, they hate the idea of a shared purpose and a common identity and compromise, they’re suspicious of everything because they are weak and stupid and they have an arrogant and warped sense of the history of Britain. Brexit has created them, given them their chance. Cameron gave them their chance.
The referendum on Britain’s position within the European Union was a catastrophic bucket of shite from start to finish – let’s get a few things straight: first, a referendum that can fundamentally determine a nation’s position in the world should never be born out the political expediency for a single politician and his party, that is just madness; second, a referendum which allows for a possible outcome that is not properly outlined to voters, because the complexity of what they are being asked to decide is not adequately appreciated by those asking the question, is simply dangerous; third, a referendum were the campaigns waged by both sides are steeped in lies and misinformation lacks legitimacy; and, finally, when the conduct of those running campaigns for one side or another is questionable within the remit of the Electoral Law, the result should be treated with great care, not hailed as a triumphant demonstration of people’s desires.
The referendum on Britain’s place in Europe was an ill-conceived manipulation of democracy and cannot be justified by the fatuous claim that the result is an expression of the ‘will of the people.’ Because, quite frankly, what did the people will? Who the fuck knows, not this political shit-squad that’s for sure – but sadly, very few Brexiters are honest enough to concede that.
They would rather plunge our country into social and economic uncertainty than accept that Brexit might not after all be in the Country’s best interests. They would rather undermine their own democracy than accept that the flaws in the referendum make a seamless and successful exit from the European Union pretty much impossible. They claim that those who point this out are traitors and collaborators hell-bent on ‘thwarting of the people’s will’, and this the vacant rhetoric that suits them – because the ‘us and them‘ narrative is as simple and effective as it is dangerous and meaningless.
It started during the referendum campaign itself, when we had the first glimpse of two terrifyingly ugly traits that have grown like bind weed around the throat of our political culture – the first was the rejection of ‘expert opinion.’ Economists, constitutional lawyers, international lawyers, businessmen, diplomats, lorry drivers, trade unionist and politicians with decades of experience, have all had their opinions not just rejected but deemed illegitimate – they, the Brexit nationalists have said, just want to stop the will of the people with their devious knowledge – and half the people have accepted this; whilst the second trait is the encouragement to distrust the institutions of state – Parliament, is no longer the mouthpiece of the people, it is the enemy; the judiciary is not deemed to be objective and fair but derided as being elitist and establishment.
In the last week, we’ve seen that the clear plan of the Cummings inspired Government is to ratchet up the tension between those who are deemed to be ‘elitist liberals’ and ‘the people’. The narrative is that Parliament, the judges, the BBC, the mainstream media and anyone else who can possibly labelled a liberal snowflake, are standing in the way of the will of the people, by trying to prevent brexit.
This is the type of politics that leads to distrust, this is the type of politics that leads to disillusionment and anger and stasis, it is the politics that every failed state that has ever existed has engaged in – politics working against the interests of the people.
Now, let me pin my colours firmly to the mast – I don’t give a shit that someone who doesn’t like foreign people voted to leave the EU, I don’t give a shit that there are those out there, with no clue, who make meaningless claims that the nation’s ‘sovereignty’ will be enhanced by leaving the EU; I don’t give a shit that those who are quite happy to unlawfully shut down Parliament are the ones shouting loudest about democracy and the ‘sovereign state.’
I do give a shit about my children and the fact that they might reach adulthood in a country that doesn’t feel able to work together with other countries; I do give a shit about the fact that their future may be jeopordised by a diminishing economy, I do give a shit about the fact that they won’t be able to travel freely around other EU countries; and I give a shit that the future of their society, indeed our society will be blighted by stupid people who tell them not to listen to experts and that the institutions which make and uphold the law and exist to give them a voice are not to be trusted. And I give a massive shit that my fellow Brits, good people, honest people, working people, work-shy people, fat people, thin people, brown people, black people, gay people, straight people, educated people and every one else are being taken for a ride by the biggest political con trick that has ever been unleashed upon our society.
And it is because of that, that I will write my angry, sometimes barely coherent pieces for Politics Punked and it is because of this that I will not give up on the campaign to bring an end to the vacant politics that we are being forced to endure.