That didn’t last long. Within a day and a half of Theresa May’s Road to Brexit speech, the speech whose main purpose was to signal the road to Conservative unity, the party’s at handbags at dawn again. You know that you’re in trouble when the ruling party in a country contains more drama than you’ll find in a single episode of a reality TV show featuring everyone who has ever appeared on Big Brother. Only far less mature than that suggests. The speech was billed as Theresa’s big pitch to bring the entire country together behind her vision of Brexit, but she couldn’t even manage to get her party together. They were indeed lining up behind her, it’s just they were doing so in order to stab her in the back.
On Friday Theresa May set out a vision of Brexit that was wide-ranging, ambitious, and which even contained moments of grandeur. The problem was that it was also completely unmoored from anything approaching reality. It’s all very well elaborating on the flavours that you’ve already hinted at in previous fudges, but there’s very little point in producing a detailed recipe for a cherry topped cake so that you can win on Bake Off when the EU has already told you a thousand times that this is news and current affairs and not some cheap attention seeking publicity stunt featuring Ruth Davidson. Although given the output of the British nationalist media in Scotland you could be excused for not appreciating the distinction.
By Saturday night, the Conservative grandee and Thatcher-era minister Michael Heseltine was telling anyone who’d listen that May’s speech was as useful at getting the UK closer to a Brexit deal as presenting Jacob Rees Mogg with a squealing infant producing some suspicious smells and expecting him to change its nappy. In fact that’s pretty much what the UK has done with the EU, presented it with the soiled nappy of Brexit and demanded that it cleans up the mess. Heseltine pointed out, quite reasonably for once, that it doesn’t make things any better to dress the dirty nappy up with a cherry on top. The first rule for any successful politician ought to be that they deal with reality, and not some fantasy. If Margaret Thatcher was the Iron Lady, Theresa May is the Denyin’ Lady.
Saying that she’s aiming for a Brexit that works for Britain is like saying that you’re aiming for a crack habit that works for you. In 18 months the Prime Minister hasn’t budged an inch, but she still calls for everyone to get behind her. She’s still in thrall to the hard Brexiteers of the European Reform Group, still determined to press for a Brexit that the EU has repeatedly stated she’s not going to get, still not being honest with the public about the damaging economic consequences of Brexit. Delusion is the new consensus, denial is the new realism. The only way that remain supporters are going to get behind Theresa May would be to push her and her Brexit bus off that cliff of her own making. Theresa expecting everyone to enthuse and support her vision of Brexit is rather like telling Sylvia Plath that you’re organising a tupperware party to help cheer her up.
Not that the Tory right cares whether us plebs get behind Theresa’s Brexit or not. They’ll enrich themselves whatever happens. The Eton boys with their Oxbridge degrees and hedge fund management will stir up the right wing press against an ‘elite’ that strangely never seems to include them. Brexit will be a bonfire of regulations that protect the less well off from the depredations of the powerful, but they’ll tell us that they’re doing it all in the name of freedom. It’s just that they’re doing it for their freedom and not ours.
The Tory right is what you get when you distill the essence of English exceptionalism and spray it on the UK like the product of a skunk’s anal glands. We won the war but we’re still out on penalties to Germany, let’s blame those Brussels bureaucrats with their unbent bananas. It’s all the fault of migrants, not big businesses bleeding money out of the public sector. The Tory right wants us to believe that everything can be solved with a little bit of Dunkirk, conveniently forgetting that Dunkirk was a defeat. The fig leaves of Union have fallen and rotted, Brexit has exposed the UK as a project of a backward looking and reactionary English nationalism.
Labour is little better. Its own divisions have exploded this weekend as Kezia Dugdale announced she was launching a campaign within the Scottish branch office to support membership of the single market and customs union. You might think that it would have been better for her to do this before she resigned and waltzed off to the jungle to make cake from kangaroo testicles and shredded her reputation in the process, but this is Labour in Scotland we’re talking about here. Foresight isn’t their strong suit. Although to be fair neither is hindsight, and they would be challenged by looking right then left then right again before crossing the road. The party is struggling to come up with a coherent policy on Brexit because they still haven’t worked out a way of blaming it on Thatessempee that the anti-independence press is likely to swallow. Even though that’s setting the bar pretty low.
The entire UK is threatened because the overriding priority of the Conservative party is to keep a lid on its internal divisions. The entire UK is threatened because the Labour party is trying to face two ways, its leadership supporting Brexit while trying to keep a lid on a party in which the majority is opposed. The UK is divided, weak, the laughing stock of Europe, the sick man of the developed world, living on nostalgia and WW2 fantasies of standing alone. The British government is being driven by the delusions of the hard Brexiteers, blind to the harm and damage that they’re causing. Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Morgue, David Davis, Liam Fox, and Michael Gove, the UK is being held hostage by Five Guys Named Woe.
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
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