Brexit will Break Britain

Events are unfolding thick and fast. Mostly thick, but also fast.

If you can put down the Trump popcorn for long enough to pay attention, it’s worth a look. Separate happenings throw the British crisis into sharp relief. First Adam Tomkins admitted meekly, as Mundell and Davidson have also done, that the thought of the House of Lords discussing and voting on the Withdrawal Bill, while elected MPs are excluded, is an affront to democracy that is an unsurvivable event. The EU Withdrawal Bill will now be debated by Lords that aren’t just unelected, they have been explicitly rejected by their constituents.  Like photos hanging around in your Deleted Items folder they refuse to go away, bobbing back up in Britain’s opaque and foosty Undemocratic institutions. Secondly. the Scottish Tory narrative has collapsed, even in their own terms. Mostly because the idea that they have power and influence is a fiction. They get treated with the same contempt the rest of us do. Their glorious leader is now a laughing stock. As Ruth Davidson said in 2016: “You don’t fund schools and hospitals, and you don’t control immigration by crashing the economy. And that’s what leaving the EU would do.” The only problem she has is she is now saying: “… just bloody get on with it, will you?” You can’t come back from that. Watching this short clip of Ruth’s flip-flops it’s difficult to know hows she’s in the position she’s in at all.  

But crucially, the Scottish Conservatives tentative, over-blown and media-hyped ‘revival’ has been blown away by their mishandling of Brexit and their own misguided sense of their own importance. What was described as a “Power Grab” has become explicitly just that. As Philippa Whitford has put it: “Under original Devolution settlement, specific powers were Reserved and PRINCIPLE was that anything not so reserved was Devolved. This Principle is reversed by Clause 11 as powers go to WM who then decide what when and how might be Devolved.” A third snapshot of the British crisis was the spectacle of MEP Stephen Woolfe sending a basked of consumable goods to ‘Mr’ Barnier in act of savoury cuilinary defiance that will come to represent the Brexit farce as much as the Winter of Discontent, Sunny Jim or the Falklands represented the 70s or 80s. He wrote: “Looking forward to giving Mr Barnier some fantastic products from Britain including some British wine and gin.” It may seem like a stupidly obscure point, a detail amongst the farce, but as a symbol of the futility and the extraordinary lack of self-awareness it’s an eye-opener. The case for English nationalism, hiding behind its British proxy is based on a basket of Marmite, wine and gin, and a jar of Piccalilli. Amongst this all Conservative revanchism spasms uncontrollably with every new day, the Conservative vice chairman for youth obliquely apologises for comments suggesting that people on benefits should be sterilised, as if that’s a social faux-pas not an articulation of political thought. All of this would be containable, manageable if the pretence of economic competence wasn’t collapsing. The violence of finance capital, spiralling debt, the Carillion exposure and the social fascism of sanctions and benefit culture are a Perfect Storm, and at the heart of that storm is the great deception of Brexit. Haunted by the Past Nicholas Boyle writing in the Irish Times summarises:

“For the English the United Kingdom occupies the psychic space once filled by the empire. Haunted by their unassimilated imperial past, the English continue refusing to think of themselves as a nation in the same sense as Scotland or Ireland and maintain a constitution for their United Kingdom which denies the obvious. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland all have their variously titled national assemblies, but England has none – not out of modesty, but in order to claim for itself the exceptional position of anonymous master of its now diminutive empire.”

This is becoming more and more apparent and is dawning on a widening group of people like sunrise on a misty morning. He goes on:

“The end of empire meant the end of the English pretension to have and need no national identity of their own. Once they admitted their empire was no more, the English would have to become just another nation like everybody else, with a specific, limited identity, a specific history, neither specially honourable nor specially dishonourable, with limited weight, limited resources, and limited importance in the world, and on the Atlantic archipelago. That is the terrifying truth that membership of the EU presents to the English and from which for centuries the empire insulated them: that they have to live in the world on an equal footing with other people.”

And that’s where it gets interesting, as Scotland in Union revelations are about to reveal. This is elite power masquerading as a grassroots revolt. As Adam Ramsay writes:

“Many of the spokespeople for Euroscepticism like to talk about representing “ordinary, decent people”. They are the so-called “bad boys” who dared to stand up to the elites. Speaking at a Trump rally last year, Nigel Farage claimed, “we made June 23 our independence day when we smashed the establishment.” The fascinating details I have found while investigating the people who make up a key pro-Brexit group, Veterans for Britain, make one thing clearer than ever. The Brexit movement was led by Establishment England.”

While this is true, and it’s easy to ridicule the Barnier basket and Ruth’s flip-flops, or Boris Johnson’s zip-wire, there’s another level to Brexit and Anglo-British Nationalism.

Ramsay details some of the individuals who “smashed the establishment”.

One is Charles Ronald Llewelyn Guthrie … ” – or, to give him his full title, Field Marshal Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank, GCB, LVO, OBE, DL, Colonel of The Life Guards, Gold Stick to The Queen, Colonel Commandant of the SAS – was head of the British army from 1994-1997 and then chief of defence staff from 1997-2001.”

Guthrie is quite the well-connected character:

“In late September or early October 2014, Guthrie declared that he had become a shareholder in two companies. One of them is Palantir Technologies, a data analysis firm co-founded by the US billionaire Peter Thiel, who was also co-founder of Paypal and a board member of (and the first major investor in) Facebook. Thiel is known for his major donations to Donald Trump and other parts of the American ‘libertarian’ right, reportedly turned down a job as chair of Trump’s intelligence advisory board, and famously argued in 2009 that “the extension of the franchise to women” has “rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron”, that “capitalism simply is not that popular with the crowd” and therefore that his fellow libertarians must focus on developing the technology that will ensure that it is capitalism, rather than democracy, which wins that struggle: “The fate of our world may depend” he wrote “on the effort of a single person who builds or propagates the machinery of freedom that makes the world safe for capitalism”.

Thiel’s company, in which Guthrie owns shares, is said to be named after the all-seeing stone in the Lord of the Rings, and described by The Guardian as the “‘special ops’ tech giant that wields as much real-world power as Google”. The firm’s founders, according to Jacques Peretti in the book Done: The Secret Deals That Are Changing Our World, aimed to “create a company that took Big Data somewhere no one else dared to go”. As a start-up, they secured support from the CIA, and the Intercept revealed earlier this year that they now work with a string of government agencies, including America’s NSA, Britain’s GCHQ, and Australia’s Defence Signals Directorate and, (according to Haaretz) with the Israeli government.”

Ramsay lays out the dark networks of the Veterans for Britain group one by shady one.

So we have high farce alongside dark arts and the deep state. This is how Britain works, a froth of jovial amateurism masquerading a much darker operating system.

It’s About the Stupid Economy

All of this could and would be defensible amidst a sea of propaganda but not while the economy is failing.

George Eaton at the New Statesman points out:

“The Brexit vote is, however, causing unambiguous harm. Gus O’Donnell, the former head of the civil service (2005-11), who now chairs Frontier Economics, told me: “Economists warned that Brexit would create uncertainty, which reduces investment, and that a big fall in the exchange rate would lead to higher inflation. All of those things have come true.”

The UK is no longer the fastest-growing G7 economy but the slowest (GDP performance has been the worst since 2011). Britain has endured the lowest growth and the highest inflation (3 per cent in September 2017) of the ten major EU economies. The once-derided eurozone grew twice as fast as the UK in the first two quarters of this year (0.5 per cent and 0.6 per cent). The surge in UK inflation is directly attributable to the pound’s diminished value – a mark of investors’ pessimism. Owing to higher prices, real wages have fallen for the past six months. Though less severe, the combination of rising inflation and stagnant growth is reminiscent of the stagflation of the 1970s. The return of negative wage growth for the first time since 2014 could presage the worst decade for pay since the Napoleonic Wars.” Under productivity, a low-wage economy, zero hours contacts, endemic poverty and a burgeoning housing crisis are the backdrop to a government blethering about sterilising the poor and engaged in an exercise of self-harm. Today we have a broken economic model, an ongoing constitutional crisis and an unspoken and unnamed nationalist revival all feeding off each other in incoherent and unpredictable ways. As Aditya Chakraborrrty says, ten years on from the death of Lehman Brothers and all we get is  “a broken economy force-fed more of the same ideas that helped to break it.” “When capitalism fails this badly, it jeopardises the very functioning of democracy. So it is starting to prove today.” We live in country where standing ovations in cinemas during Gary Oldman’s climatic “We shall fight on the beaches” speech as Winston Churchill are reported, but Anglican clergy have a say over our constitutional future whilst our elected MPs do not.  

Comments (16)

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  1. Paul Docherty says:

    It is terribly sad what is going on in the UK. and more so in Scotland where you are regarded as a non identity to be exploited and downgraded to second class citizens.

  2. Crubag says:

    Brexit is a constitutional reset, I don’t see any mainstream party remaining unchanged. The SNP seem to have moved away from EU membership and seem ready to accept a Brexit on good terms (maybe EEA membership in an iScotland future). Not surprising when the two main pro-Brexit parties took a majority of the vote in the Scotland. The Tories could cement that change if they devolved issues like fusheries.

    The Lib Dems might hold out longer but I think there is movement there too as their position isn’t translating into votes.

    (And I think the UK is mid-tablish in terms of GDP, just below Germany).

    1. Jack collatin says:

      No, Crubag, the Yes Movement, and the Pro Self Determination Scottish Government, have not abandoned the ultimate goal, an independent Scotland.
      We are where we are.
      Mike Small describes beautifully the Global Powers behind Brexit.
      The US and English Establishment are out to smash the Europe Project, simply to re-establish America, our ‘special relation’, favourite uncle, Sam, as the only world superpower, militarily, as well as economically.
      Nicola sturgeon and Mike Russell are looking after the interests of the Scottish People, all of us.
      They have produced a second Impact analysis on Scotland’s future relationship with the EU, without undermining the Brit WM Brexit resolve.
      In 15 short months we are out of the EU on a Right Wing and a Prayer English Elite’s coat tails, if we do nothing.
      There is no time to achieve Self Determination in Scotland during this WM orchestrated ridiculously short time table.
      Brexit will arrive long before Scottish independence.
      The Scottish government is acting responsibly, offering options for Scotland in Europe, while still in the UK, which will avoid going over Beachy Head with the more than willing English Imperialists.
      Why would we back an English parliament which is killing 120,000 of its electorate every year, stopped DLA and PIP for 180,000 of its most vulnerable citizens, is setting aside 100’s of billions to buy more WMD and upgrade the London to Birmingham line to cut the journey to the #capital’ by ten minutes?
      England is collapsing in on itself. London and the SE Go Getters are devouring each other in hellish feeding frenzy of the Last Days of the English Empire.
      Carrillion sums up the Thatcher/Blair decades.
      How much dosh can the Privateers steal from us before there is armed revolt?

      “The SNP seem to have moved away from EU membership and seem ready to accept a Brexit on good terms.”
      You wish, Crubag, you wish.

      1. Richard MacKinnon says:

        I think Crubag is closer to reality than you are Jack.
        I think the SNP have moved away from EU membership. Infact I think they have given up on independence.
        The evidence – 1) The SNP have become part of the Westminster establishment. I think they have accepted 2014 and 2016 referendum results and are now positioning themselves as the credible Scottish Goverment and the sensible face of opposition at Westminster. I think they see the Tories as (never to be ackowledged) allies at Holyrood and Westminster, and vice versa. (Hard Brexit v sensible Brexit, and Labour irrelevent)
        2) If they had really wanted to fight Brexit they could have faught the 2017 general election on a one issue manifesto. (I am sick of saying this on Bella, and no one has so far challenged me). Last years SNP general election manifesto should have been “Vote SNP and if the SNP has a majority of MPs returned the SNP will take that as a mandate to negotiate independence from Westminster and continued membership of EU”. This would have been a legitimate course of action because of the Brexit result (and Scotland voting Remain). It was Margaret Thatcher’s only condition for Scotland to achieve independence: a majority of SNP MPs was her only requirement).
        The fly in the ointment to that tactic was the SNP government committing the Scottish parliament to a second independence referendum March 2017. The timing of this move is important. The SNP knew a general election was imminent, they did not know when but they knew it was going to happen soon, I think that fly was placed deliberately. To avoid the risk that accompanied the single manifesto pledge.
        So Jack, I think it is you that is being lead down a dead end. I think Sturgeon and a very few SNP (non elected) lieutenant’s are conning the SNPs gullible members. They have made the decision that The Party comes before all else. They have accepted The Union.

      2. Crubag says:

        The SNP position is that if EU membership isn’t available, then the UK should stay in the single market. There is no longer talk about ensuring that Scotland stays in the EU, and the timeline doesn’t allow for an indy referendum to be held before the outcomes of exit are known.

        From an electoral arithmetic perspective you can understand the reset. The polls have hardly moved, but a second Yes/No campaign that also intersected with a Leave/Remain (or rather Stay Out/Apply to Join) could reduce the vote. More likely there will be an indy2 at some point, post-Brexit, but it would be for a subsequent administration to decide if there was an appetite for EU membership. Going by Norway and Switzerland, that would not be a certainty.

        1. Regauntlet says:

          Bullshit, Crubag, you and your crazy anti EU nationalists are the least rational of the Brexiteers, which takes some doing.

          Where are the powers repatriated from Brussels going to go? To Westminster. In London, they are going to “take back control”, but we in Scotland are going to end up with even LESS power than we had within the EU… concentrated in the capital of the new English Empire…

          Wake up, man! You and all the other pro indie, anti Eu Scots, don’t think, you just parrot.

          Most of the best commentators on Scottish history, politics and culture over the last 150 years have correctly identified Scotland’s choice as a medium sized nation: the only offset to the cultural colonization of Scotland is the Europeanization of Scotland. The less European we are, the more Anglo we become…it’s called spheres of influence.

          Your pro EU English voter is going to get shafted by Brexit, but only once. Your Pro EU Scottish voter is going to get shafted twice, three times, or more…

          “Take back control”…. we never had the sovereignty to give away in the first place, ipso facto, we can’t take it back. How can any Scottish indie supporter fall for that line? Unbelievable..

          You, Jim Sillars and co are a tactical and strategical disaster zone for an indie Scotland….you guys are doing Farage’s bidding, you are inadvertently aiding the disappearance of Scotland as a distinctive European country and even polity…

          1. Crubag says:

            I think there’s a spectrum of opinion, from pro-nation state to pro-federal EU, and its the people at the extremes that are most vocal. Most people are in the middle, and at a UK level when given a binary choice, they said Leave. In Scotland, it was 38%, including a third of SNP voters, so given the indy polling, certainly enough to potentially tip the balance in an indy2 called at this point.

            Post-Brexit, the calculations can restart. I can see Westminster either helping or hindering (e.g. devolving fisheries, or using it as a bargaining chip with the rEU), but the final settlement between RoI and UK will probably be the major factor. A border there would probably rule out any return to the EU by an iScotland.

  3. Blair says:

    “The fate of our world may depend” he wrote “on the effort of a single person who builds or propagates the machinery of freedom that makes the world safe for capitalism”.

    Individualism will trump capitalism and democracy., AI blockchain & bitcoins may figure in the future of world politics but with BREXIT in UK Sophia could be replaced by Christina.

  4. Willie says:

    Ah well with Carillion gone who will be next as the contagion spreads.

    Galiford Try who own Morrison Construction.

    They’ve been hit badly with the Carillion collapse to the tune of announcing a further £40m hit on the loss making AWPR. .

    Or what about Interserrve who apparently have even today have bee. to the government to eat for help.

    Or what about Balfour Beattie who were are also JV partner to Carillion on the AWPR.. Can they take the £50m hit just announced on top of existing losses on that project.

    Folks really have no idea as to what is really going on and Brexit will make things, worse.

    1. Alf Baird says:

      “who will be next”?

      Serco’s RoS is also practically zero, similar to Carillion.

      In a slightly different vein of privatisation, as profits continue to fall, we might also expect former public utilities, now owned by highly leveraged offshore ‘funds’ and unable to repay international lenders/investors or sell on at a high enough premium, going bust.

  5. Scottish Force says:

    Fish and chips in an independent UK?
    For 2 quid with brown sauce (Not vinegar) none oh that pish here.. your having a laugh

  6. Interpolar says:

    In all fairness, the clergy who are members of the Lords are generally one of the saner faction in the House.

  7. w.b.robertson says:

    according to Prof Curtis, the results of the latest polls (reported today) suggest that time is running out on the SNP`s grip at Holyrood. If his forecast is correct, then Nicola will have to go for Indy2 soon…or be counted out by the bell. And, underlying it all, a new campaign needs the votes of the Scots who want indy – but no rule from Brussels.

    1. Alf Baird says:

      Union cheerleader Curtis clearly reads the population census. WB, the only prospect of a ‘Yes’ result is for only those born in Scotland and/or of Scottish parentage to be given voting rights, as is standard practice in most other countries. Otherwise the one million plus people from rest-UK who have migrated to Scotland over the last 30 years will simply vote ‘British Nationalist’ and block our right to independence again.

  8. Ottomanboi says:

    With Carillion, McMafia, the House of Sa3ud, offshore tax havens, collapsing infrastructure, Brexit and the rest the UK is the best, at the heart of everything, rôle model and leader hors classe of democracy, fairplay, innovation and the underdog etc etc….
    It also has a notably wicked sense of humour. Davidson for PM…teehee!

  9. John Stuart Wilson says:

    I wonder, has anyone actually read Nicola Sturgeon’s “report” on the impact of Brexit on Scotland’s economy?

    It isn’t predicting economic Armageddon. It isn’t predicting Depression. It isn’t even predicting Recession.

    It is simply saying that growth will be slower than it would have been otherwise. She’s claiming that she can credibly chart out the course of the economy to 2030.

    Given that she was co-architect of the Independence White Paper, I don’t think I’d bet my house on that.

    There was a massive slowdown in the Scottish economy BEFORE the Brexit referendum which the SNP administration failed to anticipate or respond to, never mind correct.

    But now we are supposed to believe that they have acquired a crystal ball with regard to long-term forecasting.

    If I described to you the basics of the situation by changed a few labels in order to conceal the identity of the speaker, you’d call it “Project Fear”.

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