As Boris Johnson roamed Aberdeenshire like Willie Rennie with testosterone and an expensive education, it dawned on the nation that we had descended into a new phase of high drama and low farce. If we thought that Theresa May was the worst Prime Minister Ever, she has been superseded instantly by an even worse one.
The era of Revolutionary Conservatism is upon us and it is darkly stupid, brutal and disconnected from principles or vision. Welcome to what Fintan O’Toole called “the United Kingdom of Absurdistan”. O’Toole noted: “Brexit is a very strange kind of revolution – the heroic overthrow of imaginary oppression, in which tragedy and farce are not sequential but simultaneous and deeply interwoven.”
Apart from the chaos and the bad-theatre the emerging reality is that Britain is a deeply unstable place. The mythical “checks and balances” don’t exist, the disgraceful state of the media is a real problem for democracy, the sense of privilege and right-to-rule personified by Rees-Mogg’s insouciance lounging is merely a red-flag to the state of the whole miserable project.
Contradictions are everywhere. “The People” are called-upon to usurp their elected representatives, the Labour Party who have been calling for an election now refuse one, ‘the Rebel Alliance’ calculating correctly that Boris and his henchmen need to be hung out to dry for as long as possible. The House of Lords emerges as the peoples champion, as does Phil ET Hammond and Lord Soames. Waiting in the wings are the Brexit Party, momentarily eclipsed by the nuttiness of the Cummings-Johnson Shitshow but eagerly waiting to pounce on any deviance from the No Deal No Surrender Script. Meanwhile, “Please Leave my Town” is trending in Germany as a very polite man asks the Prime Minister to depart. The rejoinder “I will soon” is probably true, whether Johnson likes it or not.
Fascists are on the streets of London, and Glasgow. This isn’t ‘sectarianism’ this is extreme British Nationalism. These aren’t “clashes” they are attacks on peaceful demonstrations by the far-right. Don’t be distracted by the misreporting, don’t be lured by the “ban both sides” line.
It’s getting ugly.
In London “Brexiteers” sing “We’ve got a lamppost just for you” at Remainers outside Westminster tube.
In London they echoed the PM’s line about the “Surrender Bill”, in Glasgow they shout “No Surrender”. This is Better Together 2019-style.
But two things stand out from the dark madness. First, it’s not a game and the economic ruin of No Deal are going to be very harsh and not felt by the top players. Second, love it or hate it, this weird entity called “Britain” voted for Brexit. While the comedy clowns of Johnson’s degenerate government are a theatre of the absurd, you can’t have a referendum and not deliver it.
But ‘not delivering’ is what everybody is up to. It’s an open secret that Boris Johnson is not engaging in any negotiations with Europe at all, and has no intention to. Corbyn’s official opposition has been patchy and incoherent, the Liberals have been opportunist and the SNP have been tentative and awkward. The danger is that a crisis morphs and burns into a state in which the entire political class becomes smeared with the constitutional excrement being generated daily by the Brexit phenomenon.
Boris Johnson has the look of a person slowly becoming aware of his almost complete inadequacy for the role bestowed on him, a half century of extreme privilege coming home to roost, not on him, but on us.
The incredible thing to realise as you survey this scene of wreckage is that people, only a few years ago, tried to describe Britain, its structures, institutions and economy as a source of strength reliability and support. “Stronger Together” was only the slogan of an entire narrative about our “ancient Union”, how it was unique in the world and the font of immeasurable solidarity. Britain was a rock around which poor Scotland must cling. “Pooling and sharing” was just one example of the benign magnificence that shone out of London like a beacon of hope.
In the shattered wreckage of Britain’s political system its clear that the farce was always there, just under the surface.
No-one has reformed our broken institutions, they have been left to fester and rot by politicians and parties that have benefited from their brokeness. The stinking mass of British democracy is exposed to everyone. If its been obvious to lots of people for a very long time that is no consolation prize as we veer towards the possibility of violence and further chaos.
Back to Aberdeenshire.
When Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared with Alister Jack and Andrew Bowie MP to announce money they’d previously withdrawn to Scottish farmers was now being reinstated – they were togged-out in the inevitable Barbour jackets and farming uniform. Their message wasn’t to a Scottish-wide audience it was to a class that exists Both Sides of the Tweed, as Gaughan used to say.
YouGov polls this week showed a huge thumping majority for the SNP at any General Election this autumn, and a mirrored pro-indy majority at Holyrood, dispensing with the need for the Trans-obsessed Bathist Party’s narcissist intervention.
The results – if they played out – would be catastrophic for Richard Leonard’s disastrous leadership – and provide a true legacy of Ruth Davidson’s time at the helm – but more importantly give a renewed and huge mandate for negotiating independence.
There is – as always – opportunity in crisis and we should do well to hold onto the tiller and not change course. We need to avoid being drawn into the madness.
The drama is addictive and compelling but is also deeply toxic, riven with class interest and clandestine operations and propaganda. It will fail in chaos very soon but we must make sure we don’t fail with it.