Despite the fact that it is clear to everyone that there is no support for Theresa May’s Brexit deal in Parliament, the Prime Minister blindly and stubbornly refuses to countenance any alternatives. We have a Prime Minister who heads a government which has, at every turn, attempted to block the MPs the people have resturned to this supposedly sovereign Parliament from having their say. She has stated that her government will use so-called Henry VIII powers and will make law by fiat. She allowed MPs to express their opinions for just three days then pulled the rug from underneath Parliament and refuses to have a vote because those MPs will give her an answer not to her liking. Her government was found in contempt of Parliament but instead of apologising and seeking reconciliation, she has merely redoubled her efforts to continue along the same path.
Theresa May is immune to criticism, deaf to advice, blind to danger, uncaring that time is running out, hell bent on pursuit of control and power for the sake of power, and bugger the consequences for anyone else. She’s playing chicken with Parliament and with the lives and jobs of everyone in the UK. Everything can be risked, everything can be destroyed, just in order to save the Prime Minister’s reputation. It was noticeable that this icy politician, totally lacking in empathy, warmth, or emotion, only became animated and displayed her emotions when she thought that the EU’s Jean-Claude Juncker had insulted her personally.
This is a Prime Minister who came to power in the wake of a narrow vote to leave the EU and decided that she would ignore that 48% of the population which voted to remain, and pander to the Brexit extremists in her own party. She ignored those who voted to remain, and she has ignored those nations in her preciousssss union which voted to remain. She has instead decided to use Brexit as an excuse to further centralise the UK. She has embarked upon a course of stripping powers from the Scottish Parliament, retrospectively removing rights from the people of Scotland which the people of Scotland had approved in a referendum.
All the while she claims that she’s doing so in order to respect the result of the referendum. A referendum fought on the basis of a lie, a referendum where the winning side cheated and deceived. But none of that appears to matter.
After claiming that the central goal of Brexit was to restore sovereignty to the British Parliament, the Prime Minister is now stalling, using every tactic imaginable, in order to avoid a vote in the Commons. The goal of this appears to be to use up as much time as possible in order to rule out the possibility of a second referendum so that when a vote finally becomes unavoidable MPs will be forced to choose between Theresa May’s inadequate deal or no deal at all. Acting consciously and deliberately in order to restrict the freedom of movement of a supposedly sovereign parliament is the open contempt of democracy.
When a government is found in contempt of parliament and the reaction of the government is simply to shrug its shoulders and no one resigns, we’ve passed from contempt into the open dismissal of democratic norms. Yet that is exactly what happened this month in the UK. It’s not just that no one in the government resigned over this appalling attack on the integrity of parliament, it’s that no one expected anyone would resign. That’s how low our expectations have fallen.
At every turn, at every opportunity, the UK government has acted in the selfish interest of the Conservative party. There are two minority governments in Scotland. The British government and the Scottish government. This week the Scottish government is negotiating with other parties in order to pass its budget. With the exception of the foot stomping Lib Dems it’s a discussion between grown ups. It’s a discussion about give and take. Compare that with the British government, a minority government that has continued to act as though it has an absolute majority and doesn’t need to consult with, never mind offer concessions to, anyone else.
Meanwhile this same British government has elevated cruelty from an unfortunate side effect of policy to the policy itself. There is the infamous “hostile environment” for those who live or who wish to live in the UK but who are not UK citizens. Families are divided. Children only see one of their parents in Skype conversations. People who have lived in the UK for decades fear the knock on the door and deportation to a country where they haven’t lived since childhood.
Deliberate cruelty is a central design feature in the punitive and brutal benefits system. Sanctions are imposed for trivial reasons, leaving claimants without food and dependent on charity. We now live in a country where it is normal that people go hungry and where the biggest growth industry is food banks. You cannot walk down a street in a city centre without encountering young homeless people. Kindess is no longer a virtue in UK government policy, but a weakness. Compassion is no longer a consideration in UK government policy, but a failing. Empathy is no longer an asset in British politics, it’s been replaced by the vitriol of the right wing press.
The UK has become a cold and nasty place, defined by casual cruelty, prioritising scorn and disdain over care and understanding. It’s driven by xenophobia, scarred by hatred, inward looking and fearful, medicating itself with the dream of past glory like a homeless addict in a doorway lost a spice fueled reverie of a better time.
If you check a dictionary you will find that the definition of tyranny is the cruel, unreasonable, or arbitrary use of power or control. It is government by a ruler or small group of people who have unlimited power over the people in their country or state and use it unfairly and cruelly. Unfair votes, breaking rules, the centralisation of power, the avoidance of democratic accountability, cruelty as government policy. Theresa May’s government ticks all the boxes.
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