Now that David Cameron’s last supper in Brussels is over, there should be a general election – but what would that achieve with English politics in such disarray?
The diagnosis is from Yeats: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold. Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world“ – including the imminent disintegration of the UK.
But ever since Thatcher began zealously dismantling the UK’s post-war settlement in the interests of a privileged minority, the show-down’s been on the way.
Inevitably, the unchallenged arrogance of the Conservative Party has been the prime mover, but this time everyone else has screwed up, too. Another of the pollsters’ serial failures, a feeble Labour party, the complacent City and, above all, the impossibly biased popular press must share the blame for this shipwreck of an entire country.
Cameron showed myopia and gross incompetence in calling this unnecessary and badly framed referendum without escape clauses. In previous referenda in the UK, this majority would have been deemed insufficient to be decisive.
The country’s been steered over the cliff for purely Tory reasons. It’s unacceptable that they and they only should choose who replaces him as the UK’s leader.
The opinions polls’ incompetence was a factor. If the Brexiteers really didn’t want to win, but merely put the wind up the Establishment, then accurate polls might just have prompted them to put the brake on the rabble-rousing.
The Labour Party’s doctrinal self-absorption, to the exclusion of any thought of winning popular votes was, and is, democratically irresponsible and would again cripple the party’s ability to fight an election any day soon.
The Eurosceptic press congratulates itself for fomenting a popular revolution, but has steadily goaded the ignored and despised voters of the English provinces into a colossal act of national self-harm.
Unsure of those pro-European points of the argument not wilfully obscured, too many Brexit voters opted to exchange their critical independence for a brainwashing by a cynical media.
As Chris Patten put it:
Pro-Brexit voters were fed a ludicrous conception of sovereignty, leading them to choose pantomime independence over the national interest.
The broadcast media failed to bring any countervailing clarity. In particular, the BBC’s farcical approach to editorial balance gave the Leave side half of the airtime throughout the referendum.
No heed for the range and quality of the arguments involved, just a crude 50/50 carve-up. So a generous platform was used gratefully and consistently to slate all of those Remain warnings that sadly have proved to be all too true.
“The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” It’s no accident that the most culpable contributions to this Pyrrhic victory came from two mendacious men who are both journalists and Conservative politicians.
Yes, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, a pair displaying the worst instincts for community solidarity imaginable.
They combine the complacent sense of entitlement of the eternal Tory with the right-wing polemicist’s contempt for practical questions.
Only simple populist answers appear in their brand of journalism, no matter how complicated the issues – and the EU has always been a complicated issue. A casual lack of rigour has always characterised slouching Boris – announcing his policy through the Daily Telegraph rather than the Commons – so how can he be first in the queue to become the PM who must manage this debacle? During the referendum campaign, the noble European project was treated by the Leave campaign with a hostile contempt for its ideals and complexities, despite their own blatant lack of any alternative plan. Vote Leave not only did not know how to resolve problems of immigration, trade and negotiated withdrawal, but didn’t want to know anyway.
The long-feared mass sleepwalk from Europe has occurred.
It’s reassuring that rational, calm, and pluralist politics- and party leaders with a sense of civic good – are still on offer in Scotland. These will only flourish by Scots remaining in the European Union. The collapse of a united Britain is upon us.