We’re going down the plug-hole. This is the end of ‘Great Britain’, literally (the ‘Great’ of course refers to the union of the four kingdoms, one of which might leave soon to re-join the EU), and of the sort of tolerant England that I was always, despite my doubts and frustrations, fond of and loyal to. Our political parties are engaged in childish scrapping while huge existential dangers loom on the horizon: global neo-liberal tyranny, irrationalist religious terrorism, neo-fascism, and possibly (though I’m personally less afeared of this) the familiar ‘Russian bear’. The dogs of anarchy have been released. Yet all we in Britain have to stand against them is a rickety political system that simply can’t cope.
I’ve been pinning my hopes up to now on New-New Labour (Corbyn’s). But that seems to have come a cropper with the PLP and the sneering press. Folk are talking about the end of Labour as a party. If that’s so, we must look to the future. If Labour is finished that must leave room for a new left-leaning, pro-Europe, anti-austerity, anti-racist, pro-welfare, anti-big business, green, non-elite party – New-New-New Labour? – that can make a convincing case that it’s outside the ‘Westminster bubble’. (That’s important.) Either that, or a coalition of smaller parties, each of which focuses on one or other of these causes. That should appeal to a wide constituency, including all Labour voters, Lib Dems, Greens, Scots, old-fashioned paternalistic Tories and even (I would say) at least half the Ukippers: the ones who scapegoat Europe because they haven’t had the chance to vote their real enemies out. Its greatest draw would be that it would express the kind of direct democracy that the EU referendum was supposed to appeal to, but without such disastrous results.
There are presently two main obstacles to this. The first is our electoral system, which militates against new parties gaining any effective leverage until they’ve become old parties, and so prevents public opinion’s being accurately reflected and expressed in all its changeable variety. (The present composition of the House of Commons is a blatant example.) The answer to that, of course, is some form of PR. The second is the lack of a charismatic leader to spearhead this new party or coalition, and inspire people to flock to it. Boris is charismatic but no leader. Jeremy (in my view) is a great, innovative leader, but apparently not charismatic enough. What we need is a left of centre Churchill. I can’t see where he or she is coming from: can you?
PS (later the same day). Breaking news. Boris has withdrawn from the contest for new PM. One consolation to be drawn from this whole mess has been that those who caused it would have to clear it up. But Boris just walks away. What a shit.