The Day Democracy Left
I write this on the evening Boris Johnston prorogued Parliament. I want to convey the fine line that exists between truth and reality while observing sentiments that are deeply troubling, and ultimately reactionary to the events occurring in Britain today. To do this, I am writing from a place of heart and intuition rather than mind and rationale. To be objective and linear would only provide a pale reflection of the general mood, while, a more seditious and subjective writing style can offer a much more reflective and honest account.
It is fair to say then that these words are intentionally inflammatory, and unapologetically so.
I feel unsettled, yet, oddly calm. It is the feeling of being disclosed awful news. There is a tendency for it to immaculately wash over oneself, to only reappear in the depths of sleep, bright-eyed and alert. It happens when the information is too large and complex to digest immediately. There is a necessary lag time before the trauma is allowed to resurface, and the full extent of what’s occurred can begin to unfurl and unwind.
The deterioration of democracy. The cynics had called it a long time ago. People are confused and upset and outraged at the PM’s decision to prorogue the Parliament. It has caused disarray and prompted sensational and hyperbolic headlines – like this one.
However, the proroguing of Parliament is not outside of rulebooks. Nor has it come at a particularly unusual juncture in the parliamentary calendar. It is the precision and positioning of the proroguing that has percolated into this seditious national sentiment.
Boris Johnston has stepped into the head office with little in the way of challenge. He is the second unelected Conservative PM in three years to lead the country. The seemingly precarious position has done little to curtail his trite platitudes and dangerously positive outlook on the Brexit negotiations. There is nothing real about the reality Johnston is attempting to espouse. He has cruelly furthered false hope and driven it through the streets in plain sight for all to see. Even the most quixotic mind can see that the future Johnston is trying to project is laden with cosmic blunders and duplicity.
The government’s paralysis over the past three years has postponed important decisions over Britain’s future. Environmental degradation and the collapse of the natural world should have promoted the unification of a country and narrowed the cross-party divide. After all, it is all of us who are going to be affected as global temperatures continue to climb.
Instead, we have witnessed the polarisation of the electorate. It has fuelled a growing sense of anger and disillusionment that has contributed to deeper divisions between hostile camps. Nobody in 2016 voted to crash out of the EU with no-deal. Three-quarters of the population still do not want to leave with no-deal. People voted for change. People voted to have their voices heard. People voted as they perceived their lives circumstances were stagnating and even declining.
The empire is over. All that remains is the eerie silhouette of a global power, lingering like a ghost. Once, where brawn and bellicose behaviour would have been sufficient to commandeer future negotiations, bewildered boys stand in Parliament, confused at where it all went wrong. It was supposed to be simple. Writing trade deals was a skill long perfected by British officials. Famously lopsided and unfair, we are now likely to get the trade deals we deserve.
Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader, is poised to stand down. She is defiant in the face of the PM’s attempt to impede parliamentary procedures. Britain has sunk to an unrecognisable place, where the echoes of strong and stable seem like a sinister catcall. The long-fabled pearl of British democracy, of tradition and austere infallibility, have been trailed through the mud. Davidson’s popularity in Scotland revolves around being the only tangible option at preserving the Union. The future leader of the Scottish Conservatives will have a difficult task distilling the validity and virtue of the Union after the UK parliaments grotesque abuse of power.
The proroguing of Parliament will likely solidify longstanding doubt, division and uncertainty in Britain. Small to medium-sized businesses will probably be disproportionally affected by the outcome. While multi-national corporations and tycoons will increasingly circle overhead, prepared to bury their embryos into the still, hot carcass of the UK.
But why should we worry? I write this in an establishment where the CEO, Tim Martin, has promised to slash beer prices post-Brexit. The cost? Possibly the revoking of European Workers Rights, exploitative zero-hour contracts and the cutting of wages, oh, and a life-times hangover.
Just as I press to upload this article, an older woman sits in the table next to mine. Her eyes sparkle as she asks what I’m writing. She shakes her head, ‘well, I’m glad we are no longer ruled from Brussels’. ‘The German’s have got a united Europe, and all without firing a bloody bullet’ she scoffs. There is no disarming this mentality that has been shaped by post-war Britain. Her mind had been made up, and she will be happy when things are back how they ‘used to be’.