Love Island

It’s a period of temporary hope and optimism as the best intentions are solemnly laid down. It’s in this mood we are being asked to start 2020. Michael Heseltine and Lord Adonis have conceded the “fight is over”, even Gary Lineker has thrown in the towel.

“Britain sees in the new year on a wave of optimism” declared The Times yesterday, publishing a poll suggesting “Britons are becoming more optimistic about the economy” as Brexit day approaches.

Be in no doubt “Brexit Day”, when it arrives, will be a deluge of triumphant nationalism.

“This is no time for doom-mongering,” says a Financial Times editorial.

The Prime Minister stuck to this theme in his New Year message arguing that “leaving” on January 31 will allow people to “turn the page on the division, rancour and uncertainty” of this ghastly Brexit debate and look forward to “a fantastic year and a remarkable decade”.

Liam Halligan writes in the faithful Telegraph explains (“A united Britain will have the upper hand over a divided and declining European Union”):

“He has a golden opportunity to create an economic model promoting competition rather than cronyism, local enterprise rather than big business, that not only generates wealth but spreads it – particularly beyond the South East. For the first time in living memory, defending their new Midlands and Northern seats, the Tories have a powerful electoral imperative to govern as “One Nation Conservatives”.

I sense that not all of you are being swept away in this new mood of triumphalism.

Maybe you are suffering from the ongoing effects of austerity, caught in the poverty trap, unable to afford your extortionate rent, or struggling to pay your heating? Maybe you have fears about the dark money and dark data that has been swirling about our politics? Maybe you resent the fact that Scotland and Northern Ireland are being dragged out of Europe against our will and are fearful of the inevitable de-regulation that is coming down the line? Or maybe you’ve noticed that, despite the upbeat messages beaming out of every Tory mouthpiece, the reality is stagnation and a faltering economy?

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said its research suggested “protracted weakness” across the economy, affecting firms in manufacturing and services.

And the group warned that Boris Johnson’s government must move quickly to ensure that its Brexit plan delivers “a clear future trading relationship” with the EU in order to strengthen the prospects of restored business investment and growth.

That seems unlikely.

For those who treat Brexit as a British form of Manifest Destiny all this is just an un-patriotic lack of optimism. Doom-mongering.

But there are some further problems to the analysis than recalcitrant Jocks failing to fall into line with the delusion. Halligan’s exultant mood in the Telegraph is the give-away: “For the first time in living memory, defending their new Midlands and Northern seats, the Tories have a powerful electoral imperative to govern as “One Nation Conservatives”.

Now one thinks maybe Geography isn’t Halligan’s strong-suite, but the only “one nation” that he can possibly be describing is: England. Such is the myopic sense of the country shared by many of these Empire Loyalists that the defeat of Corbyn and the wins in ‘the North” (sic) has blinded them to the wider crises developing across the water in Ireland and here in Scotland.

The collapse of the Labour vote in parts of England does not make a United Kingdom.

“Brexit” and “Britain” are incompatible entities. You can have one but not the other.

Confidence Building

As this exercise in self-delusion gets a head of steam behind it, it’s nice to see the British Army getting on board. The Times tells us that: “The army is seeking to enlist the Love Island generation with adverts claiming that military service is the best way to gain lasting self-confidence.”

“Posters and television commercials appearing from today suggest that traits associated with contestants on the popular ITV reality show — bodybuilding, cosmetic surgery and fast fashion — develop self-esteem that is only skin-deep compared with that produced by a character-building army career.”

We’ve talked about the bizarre emotional appeals of the British Army before.

It’s cutely Orwellian that as parts of British society become more alienated, and more dysfunctional for young people, the state offers to train you to kill other people as a solution to your estranged life-experience.

Nick Terry, head of marketing for the army recruitment team run by outsourcer Capita, said: “This generation is being bombarded with stuff that gives them very short-term or superficial quick hits of confidence whether that’s through chasing likes on Instagram, buying the latest pair of trainers every month, getting your body buffed up for the summer, Love Island-style. These are all things that on the surface give quick hits of confidence but actually… there’s something longer-lasting that the army can give.”

The poster says: “confidence can be built for a summertime, or it can last a lifetime.”

As a metaphor for the process Anglo-Britain is experiencing right now, this could hardly be improved on.

Brexit as an antidote to a crisis of national self-confidence and a crisis of identity is a palpable phenomenon. But is is likely to be – like the bodybuilding and cosmetic surgery – only skin-deep.

Britain is a divided country. Divided socially by a decade of austerity. Divided constitutionally by nations in which huge sections of the population don’t want to be part of the union anymore. Divided politically by masses of people who despair about the parochial reactionary and racist element of much of the Brexit movement.

Brexit is a quick hit. It solves nothing. This is no Love Island.


Comments (9)

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  1. Jeel says:

    Perhaps the EU could issue EU Passports?

  2. Bill says:

    The last time ‘One Nation Conservatism’ ruled, railways and the utilities were in public ownership, the top rate of income tax was 90%, trade unions were at a peak, the health service was not under strain, local councils provided extensive services there were parks and other public spaces with open access, children were not segregated on estates, there was greater equality in economic terms and we did not have such a large deficit.

    If you think that Boris and his Svengali are going back there, then let us all have access to what you are on. It will only be a matter of time before the protective wall is built round London and proof of massive wealth be used to gain access. They must hope that global warming will raise sea levels such that all of us north of Watford will be drowned in a tsunami’

    Still be hopeful, Happy New year to all


    1. Charles L. Gallagher says:

      Bill, if sea levels continue to rise and the SE of England continues to sink as the north rises, geological fact, then saltwater might get rid of London once and for all and not a shot fired or a bomb exploded!!!

      Many of the unionist moth-pieces have spent the New Year calling for reconciliation, reconciliation between whom?

      A fair chunk of Scotland realizes now that the union of 1703 is finished, even N.Ireland is well on the way to uniting with the Republic and Wales is well on its way to going for Independence now. No, these imperial minded delusionists can claim as much they like about a new Britain when they as usual mean England but I hope I’m still around when they start getting flooded by immigrants for I can still remember the signs in the windows of boarding-houses in England, remember them they usually read, “NO IRISH or BLACKS”, yet even then they were grateful to be nursed back to health in hospitals staffed very largely by competent, diligent and caring Irish and West Indian nurses. Now, of course, it’s the EU staff that are taking flight!!!

  3. Grouser says:

    Nearly every time I listen to the news it relates exclusively to the situation in England. For example, items dealing with problems in the NHS will be reported with no acknowledgement that the statistics, etc, do not include SNHS where things are generally better. (Not to say the situation in Scotland is perfect; too much austerity imposed by Westminster ensures that.) Except, of course, where things are as bad. The reporting of the Rail Fare rises being a case in point. The UK news pointedly carried the statement that fares were rising in Scotland also. So the general rule is where there is good news for Scotland, ignore it; where there is bad news, report it.
    I am now used to discussions taking place about conditions in England, with no reference to the different situation in Scotland. But I was quite disappointed in the recent Frankie Boyle end of year show. It dealt exclusively with the year news round up from the perspective of England. There was not a single reference to the situation and point of view in Scotland. Scotland might just not exist. Do you think we could use this prevailing attitude to sneak out of the UK and hope nobody in the English establishment notices?
    I was quite amused to note that the armed forces are going to employ adverts which highlight the boost in self confidence that young people can expect if they join up. This increased self confidence is going to last a lifetime. Aye, right. Especially if they can ignore the ex-servicemen living on the streets labouring under mental health problems.

  4. MBC says:

    Thanks Mike, and Happy New Year! I think this magical thinking in this puff piece is a taste of what is to come from the media. The economy will worsen but we won’t get to hear of it. Meanwhile Boorish has put the minimum wage up by 50p an hour. From April…. we’ll see. That’s still less than £9. But is eagerly received by the Guardian as 6x rate of inflation…. on a 35 hour week that’s £17.50 I guess, but not much good if your hours are cut back pro rata.

  5. Hamish100 says:

    In the USA AMAZON are to begin paying $15 an hour. Over £11 an hour. UK the poor people of Europe and the America’s The Torres will be pleased.

  6. Jo says:

    Ms Long-Bailey doesn’t inspire hope either. In a piece in the Observer she spoke of “progressive patriotism” and when referring to “Britain” named four specific towns/cities….all in England.

  7. Schaun Shirkie says:

    Great article however – “Jocks”????!!!

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