Full English Brexit #48

Sunday, July 2nd, 2017

Difficult to Swallow

Mother Nature doesn’t muck about, does she? We’ve reached that late spring stage of fledglings leaving the nest, and it’s carnage. Every so often there will be another dull thud as yet another baby swallow ‘fails to launch’ as it were, and hits the ground hard. All that effort put in by the stressed parents, all that food gathering, all for nought. There were five baby swallows in the nest in the stable, and none of them made it. Even the cats, not entirely disinterested spectators, got bored with the ease of it all and are now ignoring this natural version of the ‘Yo! Sushi’ food travellator, off in search of something more challenging.


Maybe if the parents had built their nests somewhere with a softer landing, there’d be a higher success ratio? Or maybe, and I don’t know if this is a Swallow thing yet, some of the Swallow couples should just decide not to have kids. I mean yes, they’ll have to take the brickbats from other more family orientated swallows, but you know what? Parenting’s not for everyone, go and see the world, live a little. Why go out of the way to make your life harder?


Why indeed?


David Davis has compared Brexit to ‘landing on the moon’ and one can only hope he means in terms of its complexity, and not as an example of exorbitant flag waving which leaves many awe-struck but also a number thinking it was rigged and didn’t really happen. For a year, Davis has been ‘optimistic’ and ‘positive’, but now that the nitty-gritty has begun has the look of a man who’s confidently lifted the bonnet of his smoking car only to remember he knows naff all about mechanics. There are rumblings coming from his department that Theresa May has ‘hamstrung’ his negotiation efforts with her insistence that the UK will no longer be subject to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). That will be the same ECJ that defeated Theresa May as Home Secretary over her attempts at mass data retention, will it? A case brought to the ECJ by then backbencher David Davis, right? And you’re being told to ditch it at all costs? NO WAY. I mean, who saw that coming?


The actual reality, and something the vast majority of people have known for well over a year, is that of course it’s going to be bloody difficult. Brexiteers sold an idea they really didn’t think would win, and there is simply no way they can now deliver on the independent prosperity they promised, while sticking to all of their assurances about immigration, control, sovereignty and bendy bananas. You want draconian control of immigration? Ok. Ah, you don’t want to be poorer as a result though, you still want the benefits of the Single Market and therefore a level of economic prosperity? I see. There will come a point where that choice has to be made, the case for one or the other – not both – has to be set out. What do you want people, everybody Morris-Dancing or Food on the Table?


‘We want a deep, meaningful and prosperous relationship with our European neighbours.’ We were told a year ago, and yet no-one in government has made any attempt to explain how that will happen. Another vacuous statement, wishbone politics with no meat on it.


Fortunately, as the government privately tear each other apart at Cabinet meetings and prop their leader up because no-one really wants the job right now, they have much needed friends and supporters. Not some of the tabloid press, that’s a given. But the opposition party itself. Jeremy Corbyn, fresh from an unplugged appearance at Glastonbury, sacking some of his front bench because they stuck to their principles about the Single Market. That’s right, conviction politician Corbyn booting out those with convictions and winning praise for doing so from those torchbearers of modern socialism Nigel Farage, Katie Hopkins and The Daily Express. WTAF? As the kids might say.


It is remarkable how quickly politicians become puffed up and believe their own press. ‘Did you see how many people went to see Jeremy at Glastonbury?’ I was asked last week. It’s ‘Jeremy’ now, man of the people. I don’t know, I’m pretty sure that ‘Jeremy’s’ name wasn’t on the Glastonbury bill when the tickets went on sale. It might be more accurate to ask the question, ‘Did you see how many people Jeremy went to see at Glastonbury last week?’ not the other way around. But no, that makes you an enemy. I happened to point out that Jeremy’s vision of ‘hope’ and ‘building bridges’ didn’t exactly fit with his views on ending Freedom of Movement and therefore supporting a Hard Brexit. It’s an uncomfortable contradiction for his many admirers and to which I was told that that isn’t what he’s ‘really’ thinking, he’s biding his time, see? So, lying then?


If you’re not with Jeremy on this and everything he says, you are automatically a neo-liberal Blairite. Debate is trampled on, name calling and your own personal responsibility for the Iraq war and subsequent atrocities is thrown at you. You’re either with us or against us, which is childish nonsense. I have no particular love for Mourinho’s Manchester United, it doesn’t mean I’m all for Pep’s Manchester City. The real world isn’t like that, there’s more nuance and doubt, more pragmatism. Both the Tories and Labour are guilty of the same thing, they both think that most of the votes they got in the election were for them; they weren’t. The vast majority of people voted either against the Tories or against Corbyn. The idea that Labour can win an election by telling ‘centrists’, ie. most of the voting population, that they are not only wrong, but part of the problem is laughable. Look at the demographics of Labour’s vote, do you honestly think that the ABC1s are going to vote ‘Jeremy’ if he actually looks like winning?


I think people want a genuine alternative. A Macron style, unifying figure. A new party, that takes the ‘right’ wing of Labour and the ‘left’ wing of the Tories. Macron wasn’t exactly an outsider but he made sure he wasn’t tied to old prejudices about party or team. En Marche! Is the name of his brand new party and it has a massive majority in the Assemblée Nationale. People in France were tired of the same old faces and the same old squabbles, I think Britain would be too. Someone suggested Gary Lineker, as popular and vocal as anyone around, and while some people say he’s ‘left wing’, is he really? Or is he like most people and just looking at events unfold and thinking, ‘this is just extremist nonsense.’


Something else that could be learned from Macron’s party is the exclamation mark. The new UK party should go the whole hog though and adopt an emoticon. Hey, you want the youth vote right? Then ‘Onwards :)’ would work. Or, make it more specific and British, something like ‘Sod this For a Game of Soldiers :-(‘. ‘I’m Mad as Hell, and I’m Just Not Going To Take it Anymore >:-(’ might be a bit long, but I reckon it would capture the nation’s mood perfectly. Either way, things have to change, the status quo politically with an inept, morally bankrupt government propped up by an opposition of contradictory expedience is unhealthy; there is no optimism with that, no future either, no hope at all to my mind. There’s another dull thud outside my office window and I go back to counting the swallows. I hope it’s not a metaphor for our own future generations.

Thank you for reading, sharing and commenting, it really does mean a lot and while various publishers consider the merits of the ‘Full English Brexit’ book, it may make all the difference.

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  • Sara says:

    Fabulous as always
    Always leaves me wanting more!

  • Des says:

    Dryly amusing and insightful as usual, Ian, and I’d agree with you in believing there’s enormous scope for a centrist Party to succeed in Britain. Although he’s denied any such political return, I wonder if Miliband, D. could be encouraged to do a Macron?
    And would we think he could be Da Man!

  • I also think we need a new UK party. I can’t think of a name though, I thought of the Sensible Party but that sounded lame. I’m voting for the Let’s Have a Party Party so I don’t have to think about it.

  • Subscribe to your scripture, Ian.

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