Anyone who has ever seen me dance will know that my going to Buenos Aires to learn tango is absolutely insane. If you haven’t ever seen me dance, think May’s Brexit madness – an awful idea, atrociously executed, leading to a gratuitous infliction of massive self-harm – and you’ll more or less get the picture of my BA diversion.
On 17th January 2017 Theresa May delivered a well-trailed speech outlining her Brexit negotiation principles for delivering a ‘stronger, fairer, more united and outward-looking’ United Kingdom.
May’s whole preamble of the referendum as the ‘eyes wide-open choice of citizens to leave the EU and embrace the world’ is a plain lie – and she knows it. 26% of the UK population voted for Brexit – mostly for a mix of little-Englander, racist or opportunist reasons, or to give Cameron/Osborne ‘two fingers’. And she knows too, with absolute certainty, that, however the negotiations pan out, we shall in the foreseeable future be weaker, more divided, less fair, and more inward-looking than hitherto – and she’ll need someone to blame for that (like the NHS, someone other than herself).
May’s ‘principles’ need robust challenge domestically, and a determined response from ‘Europe’.
Probably the least convincing part of Roth’s ‘The Plot Against America’ is the denouement.
Lindbergh’s widow appeals for a turn away from KKK-led violence; Roosevelt is reelected; equilibrium (and the ‘American way’) is restored. In the epilogue, it is explained quite plausibly that it was a Nazi plot all along. I await Mrs Trump’s corresponding intervention with anticipation!
In Part One of this series, Trump’s fascist coup was described. In Part Two, the Brexit virus and the US/UK shared need to destroy ‘Europe’ as a tolerant, consensual model of global leadership and decision-making was diagnosed.
Is there a credible strategy to neutralise and turnaround US/UK intentions?
On October 21st 2016, Leonard Cohen released his last album – ‘You want it darker’. He passed away on November 7th, a day before Trump’s extreme kind of darkness descended on the US. ‘You want it darker’ reconfirms his 1992 analysis of the US as a laboratory where confrontations between race, class, gender, sexual orientation are still to be resolved before ‘Democracy is coming to the USA’.
Part One of this series demonstrated how the veneer of representative democracy was manipulated to mount a successful coup in which extreme right wing forces take control of the apparatus of the US state. Had Cohen wanted a more graphic vision of what ‘darker’ looks like in redneck, Anglo-Saxon, failed democracy, he only had to look across the pond at UK experience since June 2016
Part Two of ‘The plot against Europe’ restates the unfolding progressive critique of May’s UK coup. It suggests how the toxic combination of Trump and May governments are likely to assault a tolerant, civilising Europe, and most likely also Cohen’s Canadian homeland.
In 2014 I read Philip Roth’s ‘The plot against America’. My memories of its political backdrop are of Charles Lindbergh – the famous aviator (and populist ‘hero’ of his day) becoming an unlikely Republican presidential candidate. He beats Roosevelt in the 1940 election on an America-First, anti-war, anti-semitism ticket. As President he signs non-aggression pacts with Germany and Japan. He begins programmes to deconstruct and disperse Jewish communities, colluding in KKK racist violence. [WARNING SPOILERS] Whilst flying himself back from a speech, his plane disappears, and his Vice President, based on German news releases, suggests a Jewish-UK conspiracy. US forces mobilise, threatening Canada. Eventually, though, the Lindbergh presidency is exposed as a Nazi plot. Roosevelt returns to restore US values and global position.
The uncanny prescience of Roth’s book to the 2016 presidential election has been remarked elsewhere (although I was not aware of this until commencing this blog). My piece – of which this is Part One – seeks to build on the Roth narrative. It argues that we have seen a fascist coup in USA; there is considerable read-across to the BREXIT tyranny we are experiencing in UK; and the implications of both for a civilised, tolerant Europe in the future are high risk and negative. It concludes with considerations of what might be done to mitigate and turnaround these risks.
I hate to start a piece with a cliche, but ‘we live in extraordinary times’. With a rampant BREXIT virus it is almost impossible to make any sense of the feverish narratives of post-referendum Britain.
This piece considers three ‘decisions’ last week – the Nissan announcement of new investment in Sunderland; the signing of the EU-Canada CETA; and the resignation of Goldsmith and by-election in the aftermath of Government’s Heathrow announcement. It explores some alternative ways of looking at these events, and seeks to challenge the Government and media orthodoxy in all of them.
The BREXIT victory in and since the referendum is as pyrrhic as it is tragic. As of October 2016 it rests on four fundamental falsehoods (and three ‘killer clowns’). These shall destroy this country if they are allowed to endure in the upper echelons of the May government.
First, sovereignty in an era of globalisation is relative and post-BREXIT relativity is far, far inferior to pooled sovereignty within a reforming EU. Second, the ‘global trading powerhouse’ is abject nonsense – because there are neither the trading partners nor the architecture who will want it to succeed. Third, the current three Brexiteers mediating UKs new relationship with the world are dysfunctional in every sense except Tory/UKIP party politics – and that is no way to run a country. Finally, there is little evidence Government either has or will assemble the competence to manage the complexity and tactical details of BREXIT effectively.
This piece illustrates these four ‘truths’ with respect to the major trade and consequential aid issues that the May Government needs to address over the remainder of the decade, and the awful start they have made during and since the Tory party conference.
I can’t help thinking that Sunderland’s pace of counting votes will henceforth come to be seen as a massive millstone around this proud city’s neck. As Sunderland delivered its BREXIT referendum victory shortly after the polls closed on June 23rd, a first highly symbolic indicator of the national BREXIT upset became apparent.
Over subsequent weeks and months, this symbolism has become framed as the ‘Sunderland question’. The proposition is that (a large part of) the BREXIT vote was driven by ‘failed places’. Cities like Sunderland and Southend, and rural areas like Cumbria and Cornwall, feel they have not benefitted from and have little stake in the Osborne/Clark local growth models of metro-city based agglomeration anchoring pan-regional powerhouses.
Theresa May’s apparent determination to address this question is a significant consideration within and alongside the high profile review of industrial strategy.
But is there really a Sunderland question in the terms in which the post-referendum debate has evolved? And if there is, what might the May government do about it?
It really gives me no pleasure to say I called it right – but, looking back on the trio of EU referendum blogs, the basic premises were confirmed overnight on the 23rd/24th.
The referendum was an absurd exercise for answering questions about the UKs future relationship with the EU. Cameron is a fatally flawed individual and prime minister – putting ego and tactical Tory-UKIP party political considerations consistently before the country he purports to love. The UKs representative democracy is in terminal decline as an instrument for determining political, economic and social choices sensibly. The evil lies of political opportunists has a major (17m) constituency in the country – anchored by those disadvantaged and excluded, topped up with racists, bigots and supported by tax haven owners of the tabloids and an assortment of relatively nasty neoliberal oligarchs.
None of this, however, should be allowed a free run at imposing their version of hate, isolation and, indeed, poverty on those that want an outward looking, civilised Britain.
The opinion polls and their momentum suggest my resolution to try and persuade at least one person a day to vote REMAIN has been comprehensively bulldozered by the lies of the BREXIT leadership and their promotion by the offshore tax haven owners of the tabloid press. Therefore, the dual themes of this blog series – ‘the world is mad,’ and ‘democracy in terminal decline?’ – will reach crisis point in the early hours of June 24th – almost regardless of the formal referendum result.
So, what contingency plans can progressive Britain promote, on the basis of ‘never letting a serious crisis go to waste’? Read More…
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