Cheer up. Yes, it’s all a complete mess. Yes, the UK is going to hell in a handbasket. Yes, the Labour and Conservative parties are so consumed by their short term manoeuvring that they don’t care that the entire UK is about to be consumed by the bonfire of Brexit’s vanities. Yes, the bool in the mooth platitudes of Jacob Rees Mogg are hailed as pearls of wisdom. Yes, Nigel Farage the privately educated commodities trader is posing as the saviour of the working man and woman and says he’s sticking it to the elites with his elitely funded egoparty gaslighting in dark donations cash. Yes, the BBC’s idea of balance in Scottish politics is still to put one independence supporter up against two Tories, a Lib Dem, and Labour’s Richard Leotard in front of an audience carefully selected to reflect the balance of political opinion in England. Still, at least Nigel isn’t on Question Time this week. Perhaps he has a cold.
But cheer up. The current state of the UK is a whole lot better than it’s going to get. This is the becalmed before the storm, the quiet before the screaming.
When the EU granted the UK an extension to Article 50 until October, EU Council President Donald Tusk urged the British government to use the time wisely. And that’s exactly what the British government did. They promptly went on holiday, and now that they’re back they’ve decided that the most important issue is to sort out which opportunistic careerist is going to be the next leader of the Conservative party.
To be fair, going on holiday is probably the most productive thing that Theresa May has ever managed to achieve as Prime Minister. It meant that for a short while we didn’t have to look at her at Prime Minister’s Questions, as she glowered at the opposition benches like an iceberg that refuses to believe in global warming. No one missed her non-answers which gave non-sequiteurs a bad name. You could ask Theresa whether she preferred a bourbon or a custard cream biscuit with her tea and she’d only reply that the SNP want to take Scotland out of the EU where there will be no biscuits for anyone because we’d have to accept the euro. Then she’d sit down triumphantly like she’d made an important and cogent point. The real problem with British politics is that it’s considered unparliamentary to tell the Prime Minister that she’s talking shite and insulting our intelligence. Most of us are brighter than Ross Thomson.
Theresa’s most important role as PM has been to sit in the middle of any prospect of progress, a huge immobile and immovable object which refuses to budge and which refuses to accept that it’s the obstacle. The sole strategy that she possesses is to keep coming back to MPs with the same question in the hope that if she does it often enough they’ll eventually change their minds, while claiming it would be a betrayal of democracy to admit to the possibility that the electorate might have changed theirs.
Now her party is consumed with a leadership contest. There will be a choice between the right wing ideologue, the right wing careerist, the right wing self-server, the right wing opportunist, the right wing time-server, the right wing back-stabber, the right wing narcissist, or the rhyming slang Jeremy Hunt. None of the likely candidates have the slightest hope of uniting the UK, but then that’s not in the job description. They don’t need to appeal to the rest of us, they need to appeal to the baying Brexists of the grassroots Tory party. Which means that whoever it is who becomes the next Tory leader, they’re going to be even more in thrall to English nationalism than Theresa May is.
Then there’s the leader of the official opposition, who would prefer to sing the praises of Doris Day than question the Prime Minister on the most pressing topic facing the UK. It was rather more Pillock Talk than Pillow Talk. The reason that Jeremy didn’t want to ask about Brexit, at least this week’s reason, is that Labour and the Conservatives are still theoretically engaged in talks with the equally theoretical aim of finding a compromise that will get through the Commons. Both sides want the other side to compromise, and both sides know that there’s as much chance of striking a deal as there is of Jeremy and Theresa performing a tango during the middle of PMQs, which would at least be a more enteraining version of the dancing about that they usually do. But then these talks were never about finding a compromise. They were always about ensuring that the other side gets the blame for the inevitable breaking down of the talks.
However Jeremy never wants to ask about Brexit, because asking about Brexit means that someone else might ask him about Brexit, and that would mean he couldn’t keep dodging the issue. Jeremy would prefer to keep dangling the possibility of another EU referendum like a carrot on a stick, always out of reach, just like any attempt to pin him down. For a man whose leadership schtick was that he’d break the mould, that he’d be responsive, listening, and do what the membership wanted, he’s doing a very good impression of the control freakery of the New Labour he affects to despise. It illustrates a fundamental problem with British politics, one which applies equally to the Conservatives. Victory means domination. The UK has no real understanding of democracy, only of majoritarianism.
Then waiting on the side like a malignant lump in an oxter is the grimacing attention seeker that is Nigel Farage. He has declared that he’s never going to publish a manifesto, but he doesn’t need one. His party is entirely about promoting himself. Nigel understands one thing about British politics. He understands that in British politics that if you’re not the one dominating, you’re the victim, and no one knows how better to claim victimhood than the privileged who fear losing their privileges. He neither understands Scotland nor cares to, and he’s determined to complete the task of shaping British politics in his image. Brexit is the impossible unicorn that can’t be delivered. It can only be betrayed. Nigel will cry betrayal. It’s the only message he needs. Everyone is to blame for the betrayal of Brexit except those who promised the impossible. The remainers, the Scots, the social democrats, the left, the migrants, the foreigners, the poor, the disabled will all suffer for it.
Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, and Nigel Farage, the triad of mediocrity. British politics these days is in thrall to a woman who has nothing to offer except her rigid inflexibility, an opposition leader who sits on a fence because he knows that his true beliefs will alienate most of his supporters, and a rampant right wing populist who’d rather have no policies at all so that he can pretend to be all things to all people. Or at least to British nationalists. The UK is being led off a cliff by the three sham egos. There’s no place for Scotland in this so-called United Kingdom, only for a deferential and forelock tugging North Britain.
We sit waiting for the dam to burst. The waters are rising. There’s a storm coming. It’s the storm of Scottish protest, the torrent that will wash away the old and allow the new growth of a better country. It’s coming. Then we really will have reason to be cheerful.
My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.
You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free, and for the next ten days Vagabond Voices are doing a special offer, giving you two pounds off the cover price. You can order here –
You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to firstname.lastname@example.org, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email email@example.com
You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at email@example.com and I will send the necessary information.
Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.
Gaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps. T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes. P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each. P&P is £4 for up to two books. Payment can be made via Paypal.