The depth of the present British government’s descent into lies, treachery, corruption, ignorance, clownishness, rank amorality and total discredit is difficult for us innocent children of the sunny (if only in black-and-white) post-war years to fully grasp. In the 1950s and ’60s this kind of record would certainly have spelled any government’s swift and ignominious end.
But of course most people alive today don’t know about the 1950s and ’60s, or only have a distorted view of them planted in their minds by Tory propagandists: rationing, strikes, three-day weeks, power cuts, fogs, fish and chips wrapped in poisonous newsprint, Derek Hatton, bodies unburied, Cantabrigian traitors, their black-and-white tellies – and the very occasional high profile political scandal which did force ministers to resign. All true, of course, but by no means the whole picture. And it wipes out all memory of the generally honourable conduct of British politics then, certainly on the domestic front (not so much in the Empire and Ireland), and of our politicians, even Conservative ones – a number of whom I actually got to meet in my younger days. You couldn’t say of these, with any degree of credibility: ‘oh, they’re all the same’, ‘all out for themselves’, ‘each as corrupt as the next one’, and ‘always have been’; which are the kinds of excuses being trotted out these days for the state of politics under Boris and his gang.
And it’s these excuses, of course, that are destroying present-day British politics, and possibly the country, even more surely than the corruption itself. What’s the point of ousting the monster when there’s no-one better to take his place – certainly not in the governing party – and not even on the Opposition benches, once the Right-wing press has dug its teeth into them. ‘They’re all the same’. So why get too upset about the present bunch of bastards? And why bother voting? ‘Politics has always been like this.’ It can’t change. Sit back in front of the telly and watch Nadine Dorries – our Minister for Culture, no less! – eating an emu-anus on ‘I’m a Celebrity’. That’s all politics is good for these days, and probably ever was.
Except, that is, for the Right; who have hooked on to the brilliant idea that disparaging democracy is a good way of manipulating it for their own ends. In this they’ve been hugely helped by all kinds of flaws in the British electoral system, poor political education, high-level conspiracy (even Russian), and the sorts of ‘freedom’ the press is allowed to have. ‘Take the voters for fools, and they’ll give you what you want.’ It’s tempting for Leftists to infer from this that most people – those who voted for Brexit, for example – are stupid. That thought, of course, is even more dangerous for democracy.
But how on earth do we counter it, without huge – even revolutionary – changes to our education, our media, and the way we choose our MPs? Since the flame of hope that Jeremy Corbyn briefly lit in this poor naïf’s soul (mine) flickered and died, I’ve been unable to see a way. Illegitimi non carborundum, they say; but the bastards seem to be doing a pretty good job of that now. I’m not the only one being ground down. But just remember: it wasn’t always thus. Times were bad in other ways, perhaps; but not with this degree of sheer political corruption’s being accepted as normal. We used to be better than this. Can’t we be again?