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Posts Tagged ‘corbyn’

fireworks

I was travelling the M61 south from Chorley in the predawn murk. I’m not sure if it qualifies as the worst stretch of motorway in the UK, but it’s certainly the worst I have to drive. The lane markings have almost gone and the cats eyes where they exist at all are dim, so these dark, misty, winter mornings have been terrible, with dangerously poor visibility.

What was particularly frightening this week is there was an incident on the hard shoulder and the highway men had shut the slow lane, pushing us all into the middle. Without that guiding line of the hard-shoulder, I felt I was hurtling into the unknown, unable to see further than the feeble cast of my headlights, and barely a whisper from disaster both left and right. Though I’ve been on the road for forty years, and I still drive that crumbling stretch of miserable tar most week-days, I was definitely afraid.

It’s perhaps the perfect metaphor for how I feel generally at the moment, that while I’m told half our citizens will be celebrating our leaving the EU on the 31st of January, it feels to me like we’ll be cheering our own headlong rush to slaughter. Some, of course, have every reason to be happy, like those who truly benefit from BREXIT. But let’s not go there. I’m weary of the argument and can barely raise a head of steam to repeat it.

I’ve moved on, I think, well beyond the crass jubilation, am now beginning to rough out a dystopian vision of mid twenty-first century England by extrapolating current trends to their inevitable conclusion. It’s not looking like a great place to be if you’ve no money, you’re old, or sick but I won’t bother describing it in any more detail than that. Indeed my advice to fellow remoaners is just to shut up and get on with it, and under no circumstances must we ever say we told you so. We live in a post-fact, post-truth world where the bad guy always wins, and where nothing means anything any more, except when it all goes wrong, and then it’s your fault.

Remainers voted to remain because they understood the EU. They knew what it was, had seen and experienced the benefits of membership, had worked with Continental colleagues, learned their languages, visited and admired their cities, the quality of their roads, their trains, their infrastructure. It wasn’t perfect – indeed far from it – but it was better being a little fish in a big shoal than a little fish on its own. I mean that’s why fish shoal up right?

Those who voted out, did so for many reasons, all of which perplex me. I can find no logic, no rationale to any of them, and it’s beyond insanity how even the claims of Brexiteer politicians and their Bond-villain backers – when revealed as pants-on-fire lies – can still be cheered on by the reliably demented wavers of the flag of Saint George.

Yes, it’s over and done now. But I won’t be celebrating.

You can always buy your EU citizenship back with one of those handy Maltese passports, as indeed many of those billionaires who championed BREXIT are now doing. I too have a route back, virtue of an Irish grandfather, which will at least save me having to queue up at the border with the rest of you with your patriotic blue passports, but that’s not going to benefit my children who now find themselves without a country. They’re not alone. There were riots in London on election night, not widely reported. What was trumpeted loud and clear though (and still is) is that the socialist, egalitarian evil of a Jeremy Corbyn led government was roundly thrashed. What’s been less explored though are the implications of being even more securely in the grip of those who sold us BREXIT in the first place. And they’re not saying anything.

It’s easy to lose heart when you witness the overwhelming power of lies and the ease with which people of bad character can tip us over into the void of tyranny. I’ve brought my children up to be decent, honourable young men, and must now witness their first steps in a world I don’t recognise, one I fear I have left them ill prepared to materially thrive in. Or maybe I should just relax, await the milk and honey we’ve all been so glibly promised, pretend everything’s fine.

And go shopping.

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Get brexit done? Yaay!!! No, wait a minute,… let’s ask George,…

Apologies, two posts on the same day, bad form, but this evening’s final BBC leadership debate put me up to it. Apologies also to those totally brassed off and confused by the upcoming election. I know there are many feeling left out and totally unrepresented by politicians on both sides of the divide, and I do promise to shut up after the 12th. But we do have some influence; it’s called your vote, so think about it,… and promise your uncle Michael you’ll turn out on the twelfth, and vote.

 

 

 

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Mosaic (1)In light of the upcoming UK election, I’ve been poking around the Internet absorbing political discourse outside of the mainstream. But whether you’re skimming the pithy, potty-mouthed missives of the social-media comment boxes, or the more long-form partisan essaying (like this one) on WordPress, it’s apparent there are crackpots at all levels, and on both sides of the political divide. And worse, once we enter the online world, all we end up doing is living in a bubble of our own prejudice.

So who do we listen to for a balanced view when so much of the mainstream print media is unashamedly right wing? Can we even trust the BBC, when their flagship current affairs programmes make a point of “reviewing” those unashamedly right leaning print headlines? Do we go with our brains, or our gut? Is our vote not swung more by the cut of the candidate’s suit, regardless of what they actually say? Is it worth voting at all?

On the one hand, politics is a dirty business, where what is right and proper is often sacrificed on the dubious altar of Realpolitik, where monumental complexities are brushed aside by fatuous slogans like, “Get BREXIT done”. So perhaps we are wise to keep our distance. But on the other hand politics determines the course of all our lives, so is it not as well to at least keep a weather eye on which way the wind is blowing? And anyway, we can’t help but be involved; that gold-plated super-car purring around Knightsbridge, and the homeless man begging in the boarded up doorway of a once prosperous provincial town? both are the consequences of political decisions taken over the last decade, and we have all played our part in that, either by the votes we cast, or by our apathy in not bothering to turn out and vote at all.

Is politics just too complicated to analyse intellectually? Admittedly my own views are partisan and simplistic. In any nominal democracy I see there is a party of the poor and a party of the rich, and then there’s the money. The party of the poor implement policies that direct the flow of money towards the poor and the services that support them, while the party of the rich do the opposite. Since there aren’t that many rich people, the genius of the party of the rich is to convince the poor to vote for it, and to blame their resulting impoverishment, the decay of their public services, and the wasteland of opportunity for themselves and their children on immigration and the scourge of the “foreigner”.

I’ve noticed when my left-of-centre colours are revealed, and particularly in recent times when people have become less reticent about giving offence, I tend to hear the same words: communist, terrorist-sympathiser and anti-semite, all within about ten seconds. The first two of these I find ridiculous and quite shallow, while the latter I find hurtful. But any attempt to deepen discourse and explore what might lie behind these vexed issues is met only by a hardened dogmatism.

It seems that once we have chosen our colours, we tend to stick to them. I have no doubt the party of the rich will do well in this coming election, even though they offer only more of the same. The message of the party of the poor offers far less suffering, but, incredible as it might seem after this lost decade, I fear not enough of us have suffered deeply enough to be receptive to their message, or the boldness of their vision.

Of the party leaders, I am told Boris Johnson is charismatic and affable, and I’m sure he is. But when I point out his widely reported shortcomings, to say nothing of his colourful and often outrageous pork-pies, they are celebrated as merely Boris being Boris. Of Jeremy Corbyn, I am told: “I could never vote for him”. Why? Because he’s useless and scruffy, and not sufficiently “prime-ministerial”. True, his suit, like mine, is more M+S than Jermyn Street, but he seems perfectly well turned out to me, and no one who has held his own fractious party together under three prime ministers while demolishing the majority of the latter administration in the 2017 election can be dismissed as entirely useless either. As for not being prime-ministerial enough, well,… its clearly a matter of opinion, but opinion – ill informed or not – does seem rather set against him.

As for the actual policies proposed by Corbyn’s Labour party – things like free superfast broadband for all, a national education service, re-nationalisation of privatised utilities – I’m told by armchair economists, we could never afford such utopian marvels, that the country would be ruined, that there is no “magic money tree”, which is all to suggest that staggering levels of poverty and the ruin of our national institutions are inevitable and a normal consequence of world affairs, all of which to my eyes suggests we are already bankrupt, both morally and fiscally.

When I ask, did the Conservative party not find the fabled “magic money tree” and shake it down for a billion pounds to purchase the support of the Ulster Unionist Party in 2017, that staggering sums of money can in fact be found under certain circumstances – and all this after denying the health service much needed investment – I find the discussion once again runs foul of entrenched dogmatism. It’s just too complicated. Instead we hear: “Get Brexit done”, “Delay and dither”, “Oven ready solution”. Such slogans solve nothing, but like all slogans they are effective in drowning out intelligent discussion.

The lesson in all of this, of course, is that the majority of voting in this coming December’s election will proceed along the usual entrenched lines, that the outcome – be it another hung parliament or a landslide – will be decided by a handful of floating voters in marginal constituencies who are seduced down from the fence to support one side or the other.

In spite of the late season, and the reported apathy among business leaders and voters in general, the coming election is an important one, both for the UK and, indirectly, for Europe. It’s like a boxing match into round-fifteen when we’re so punch drunk and weary we’re barely on our feet any more, capable of only one last shot, so we’d better make it count. It will determine whether the majority of us continue to limp along the same old lines of interminable declinism, or we try another way. At this stage, I am by no means optimistic. Still, we should vote as we see fit. Indeed, come rain snow or shine, we must all turn out on the 12th and vote or, whatever the outcome, we will have only ourselves to blame.

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nuclear burst.jpgDear potential leader,

Why should I vote for you if you’re cagey about whether you would ever contemplate pressing the red button to launch our nuclear weapons against another state that’s already launched its nuclear missiles against us?

You mean, you want me to launch first?

Em,… no, that’s not exactly British – I mean, more in self defence,… like.

Well, clearly my friend you misunderstand the nature of nuclear warfare, against which, I assure you, there is no such thing as self defence. If another state has launched its nuclear missiles at us, I have already failed you,  because we are already dead.

Regardless of your faith in technology, I assure you, even now, in this age of wonders, there is no missile that can  intercept those incoming intercontinental ballistic missiles. They are the fastest things imaginable, faster even than an impact prone asteroid, and just as deadly. We are, therefore, already dead, horribly dead, and I have failed you miserably, abominably, in my responsibility as a politician, and a statesman and as a leader.

I should have stopped it. I’m sorry, but that is the reality of nuclear war.

Yes, admittedly, before we die, there is probably still time to press that red button, and to thereby ensure the deaths of millions of people in retaliation for our own demise – and all right you say, but they’re just Johnny foreigner, and don’t count for much – but still that is not self defence, by any description. That is Mutually Assured Destruction, or MAD as we used to call it in the old days.

It’s like a game of bluff, I suppose. We each have all these terrible weapons perfectly capable of destroying each other many times over. So it boils down to a game of poker. I bluff, saying to the world I am perfectly prepared to use our nukes, as does the other side. But implicit in this argument is the assumption the other side won’t dare to launch first, because they know they’ll die as well, because sure as hell we’ll launch ours, not in defence, but in revenge.

Revenge?

Yes. That’s a different spin for sure, but it’s what it boils down to. Nuclear war is complicated, but also very simple: we all die.

So you want me to pay lip service to the MADness game and say I will press the button, even if I won’t, because there’s this argument that MADness prevented the nuclear holocaust that was imminent any time between 1950 and 1989. But why should I? What use is there in revenge? I don’t believe there’s anything useful or worthy in revenge.

So,.. we died. But at least we killed the other lot as well. Doesn’t sound so grand when you put it like that , does it?

It seems to me previous generations understood the business of nuclear war better than we do now, certainly better than the angry old white men who read the Daily Mail. Instead read Nevil Chute’s “On the Beach” (1957) if you want a compelling account from a fiction writer and an engineer who knew the maths, and the technology better than any one, even by today’s standards, at least judging by the right wing populist rhetoric. There is no surviving a nuclear war. Ironically, it is the younger generation who seem to understand this better than their parents.

Talk of red buttons and who will press them is fatuous. The guy who says he wouldn’t press it under any circumstances is by far the more interesting and forward thinking. His is the world I want to live in. It’s a struggle of the imagination, and a courageous one, but one worth fighting for.

And he gets my vote.

 

 

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