Tunnel Vision Nationalism

‘A tunnel vision nationalism, which focuses only on independence at any cost, sells Scotland short.’ That was Theresa May at the Scottish Conservative Party Conference yesterday. I misheard it at first, assuming she was referring to Britain and Brexit. The same argument could be applied to the latter, surely. Or is this just a narrow debating point?

Like many others, and even though I voted to remain, I dismissed many of the Remainers’ arguments at the time of the Referendum as scare-mongering; just as I thoroughly suspected most of the Brexiters’ arguments for their brave new internationalist world. As things are turning out, however, I’m starting to think the Remainers had something. If only they hadn’t gone on about the perils of Brexit, and had made a more positive case for the EU itself – deeply flawed, certainly, but still more hopeful than the isolationist and nationalist path we’re about to tread – they might have stood a better chance.

God what a mess! And mostly Cameron’s fault: to bet our whole national future on a single throw of a dice! Not Corbyn’s fault, incidentally, as some are saying. He made a rational case for Remain, which however wasn’t widely reported. Other villains are Boris and Gove, who, despite the falsity of their reputations, in my view, as intellectual heavyweights, are bright enough (just) to have known better, and devious enough to be reasonably suspected of sordid political calculation in the choices they made.

Personally I don’t blame Farage. He’s a reactionary idiot, a throwback to more blimpish times, who is appearing even more idiotic as he puts his great triumph behind him. He’s doing himself no good by sucking up to Trump, though they are obviously soul-mates. Behind Trump, too, there are more blameworthy people: in particular the Republicans who allowed him to rise to the political surface, as Jonathan Freedland argues in the Guardian today: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/03/donald-trump-villain-republican-party-blame-russia. Well, that’s their problem; or rather, a problem that only they can solve.

Britain’s problem looks insoluble. We can’t apparently flout ‘the people’s will’. That’s despite the fact that the people’s will was sought at just one tiny moment in time, when the people themselves were hugely dissatisfied over other things, which they chose to blame on the EU, under the influence of grossly deceitful propaganda; and without any chance of reconsidering their verdict on the basis of the experiences we’re going through now, and cooler and more informed debate.

Bloody Cameron. Whatever – apart from the sense of natural superiority they inculcate in them at Eton – persuaded him that he had the wisdom to be a good  prime minister? By his enabling of ‘tunnel vision nationalism’ in Britain, he may well have ruined his own nation, and lit a fuse – first Trump, then Le Pen, then that Dutch bloke, then… – to scramble the whole world order; for what that was worth.

About bernardporter2013

Retired academic, author, historian.
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