What Now?

I wouldn’t particularly welcome a revolution; firstly because you never know how they’re going to turn out, and secondly because – on the personal side – I’ve got a certain amount of ‘stuff’ I’d like to keep. But it’s hard to see how we Brits (or half-Brits, in my case) can get out of the mess we’re in without one. Parliament isn’t working. The Labour Party doesn’t seem to have much going for it just now: nothing, that is, to inspire the enthusiasm  (but also to provoke the hostility) it did under Corbyn. Our politicians aren’t half the men and women they used to be; unsurprisingly, in view of their poor reputation as a class, which stalks ahead of them. Those who rise to the top – in cabinet – seem to be the worst of the lot. This must be the most incompetent, dishonest and corrupt government Britain has ever had in her history. The bulk of her ‘people’ are apathetic, accepting it all as ‘normal’, and dreadfully misled by their media; manipulated as that is by plutocrats who don’t have their true interests at heart. This isn’t just the result of Brexit, which has simply been used – I would say – by those plutocrats and others to pursue their  interests. How else would they be able to ‘complete the Thatcher revolution’, which is the explicit ambition of many of them? (Viz. my next book.)

There may be ways of correcting all this: electoral reform, press reforms, tax reform, social reform, political education (that is, simply teaching kids about ‘democracy’ and the checks and balances that are necessary to keep it ‘pure’); but that would take far more time than we have at our disposal, with the forces ranged against us, including apathy and stupidity, and the widespread popular prejudice, especially, against ‘politics’ of any kind. Incremental reform may not do it. Which would only leave the barricades.

But in the meantime it may be worth trying for an anti-Tory electoral coalition next time around (that looks awfully far away just now!) to emphasise the Conservatives’ – and especially these extreme authoritarian Conservatives’ – minority appeal in the country as a whole. I would put aside my own Leftist principles – and my doubts about Starmer – to achieve that. Once Boris and his crew have been replaced by a wider-based progressive government we can debate and see to all the other things that need mending (culminating in the climate crisis – if there’s still time). Is that the way to go?

Even this, however, might require more popular backing than seems likely now. For a political shift on this scale people need to get really worked up, and against their true enemies; not immigrants or the EU, but the Brexiteers, and the plutocrats behind them. (Hopefully Eton would lose a bit of its shine too.) Unfortunately I can’t see much sign of this just now. Virtually the only ‘anger’ I can discern out there (from across the North Sea) is over empty supermarket shelves; and even those are being blamed by the yellow Press on the EU. 

Are people only  thinking of their stomachs? And in the individualist selfish way Thatcher taught them to? And not for example about Priti Patel’s assaults on their traditional liberties? Is not being able to buy Spanish peaches (or whatever) a solid enough foundation for a popular movement that could remove a government peacefully; and – more to the point, perhaps – replace it by a liberal one? If not I can see only a kind of fascism, or a much less gentle Leftist revolution, looming ahead. 

So let’s go for a progressive alliance: Labour, Lib-Dems, Greens, SNP, PC, Independents and the ‘wetter’ (and wiser) of the Tories, shelving their tribalism for a while, and pulling together for the common good. Like they are supposed to have done in World War II. 

About bernardporter2013

Retired academic, author, historian.
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