2007 - 2021

No Deal and a National Front

 

The extent to which the politics of the National Front in the 1970s and the politics of Priti Patel’s Tory party mirror each other is chilling. The historic latent and barely concealed racism of the Conservative Party has morphed into a new far-right populism feeding off discontent with the political classes and tapping into an unedifying strain of English political culture that draws on eugenics, superiorism, and neo-colonial exceptionalism. It’s an outlook that’s as hard and bitter as it is detached from reality. All of this has propelled us to this moment when we will, finally, be ejected from the European Union.

STOP Immigration
REJECT Common Market
RESTORE Capital Punishment
MAKE Britain great again
SCRAP overseas aid
REBUILD our armed forces

It can be seen everywhere: boosted, normalised and confirmed by the Brexit process, spiraling beyond the Tory Party and manifesting itself in Farage’s omnipresence, in the media language and framing and in the ink off a million red-top front pages.

If the collapse of colonial rule in the 1960s propelled AK Chesterton and others to form the National Front, the perceived decline of British status, the “threat” of multiculturalism and opposition to organised trade unionism consolidated the far-right in the 1970s. In the same fashion the decline in England’s perceived status at the beginning of the 21 Century has resulted in a spasm of resentment (gleefully exploited by elite forces) and resulted in the mindless grievance-driven fiasco of Brexit. The sense of loss of “far-colonies” back then is mirrored in the sense of loss of “near colonies” right now, and all are played out in the proprietorial language of confused hubris. If the 70s far-right was fueled and emboldened by a Windrush generation – our own are heartened by their departure. If the far-right of the 70s were street fascists our own hold the highest offices of the land.

None of this is new. In 2016 I wrote: “The stench of fascism has been accommodated and explained for years in Britain. It was hinted at by Tebbit and we’ve been on a slippery descent ever since, from militarised police to militarised schools to extraordinary rendition to pleading for our soldiers to be above the law.”

The descent is smooth and the message is more subtly made, but from Martin Webster to Richard Tyce, from John Tyndall to George Farmer, from Spearhead to Spiked, the same message of exceptionalism and populism is present. As I said in the summer Britain seems to be enthralled to a new psychosis. The descent (of standards in public office, of decency in the media, in the quality of public discourse) seems endless. In June London was filled with the spitting pissing fury of English fascism in full boom. Falling downwards, hurtling backwards.

The echoes of the summer are here. Nigel Farage is on TalkRadio foaming at the mouth about Black Lives Matter being a Marxist organisation. The black writer Afua Hirsch being told by Nick Ferrari on television she should “leave the country” if she doesn’t like it here. Her destination wasn’t specified. Richard Littlejohn dips his poison-pen in the Mail and talks of “mobs roaming the country”  and “Everywhere, madness is in the air …You’d never think that six short months ago we elected a Conservative Government with an 80-seat majority. It feels as if we’re living in a Left-wing dictatorship.” TV presenter Neil Oliver joined the happy idiot-throng opining that Black Lives Matter protests were really: “An attempt by anarchists and communists to eat into the built fabric of Britain and thereby bring down British society.”

How did the politics of the far-right and in some cases actual fascism become acceptable in western democracies?

Political commentator Chris Hedges argues that: “Lower-class whites are embracing an American fascism. These Americans want a kind of freedom—a freedom to hate…. they want the freedom to revel in hypermasculinity, racism, sexism and white patriarchy. These are the core sentiments of fascism. These sentiments are engendered by the collapse of the liberal state.”

So much history – but the here and now is worse.

Scores of vulnerable asylum seekers, including suspected victims of trafficking, are scheduled to be deported this week as the home secretary Priti Patel ramps up removal operations ahead of Brexit.

Sarah Teather, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service UK (an international Catholic group that operates inside Heathrow immigration detention centres) said: “Under cover of Covid and the rush for Brexit, the government are subjecting survivors of trafficking and torture to brutal treatment. Skipping sections of your own due process to avoid listening to details of trafficking that would require a more careful approach to the person in front of you is staggeringly cynical.” The JRS is currently supporting 11 men who recently crossed the Channel in small boats and who have experienced trafficking, forced labour and torture on their journey to the UK.

Patel’s Home Office is attempting to gag charity workers and community volunteers with a confidentiality agreement, following reports of dire conditions at the sites of army barracks in Kent and Pembrokeshire, which between them are holding more than 600 men seeking asylum.

Heroic Failure

You’re not allowed to call this out for what it really is.

As Ajay Singh Chaudhary, writes (Left-Wing Hypomania):

“Trump’s neofascism certainly has a family resemblance with all the wide variety of neofascisms the world over—from India to Brazil to all across Europe. The denial of this seems more like yet another, boring, inaccurate, fantastical American exceptionalism. There are plenty of alternatives, all bad. Fascism, like our more modern mode of capitalist-crisis government, neoliberalism, is mostly the stuff these politics are made of. Sometimes, as with the Nazis, it’s racial eliminationism that is the secret sauce. Sometimes, as with Franco, it’s Catholicism. Sometimes, it’s anticolonial writers noticing that fascism is just colonialism swung back around, or indigenous observers wondering how much of that is new in the first place. With Trumpism, as is becoming increasingly clear, it’s a heady brew of nativism, patriarchy, and Christian revivalism.”

“Fascism can begin with large numbers, or it can be imposed from above, as with Pinochet. I recently learned that Black Panthers and other American political prisoners called U.S. society “late fascism” to mirror “late capitalism.” Modi’s India seems closest to the classic model, but it arose not against a rising left but organic crises of capital and legitimation crises of governance. Trumpism is just an expression of this in the United States. And it’s not going away. Trump was not uniquely fascist; America already tended fascist. Why, in that context and within this global family, should I avoid the neofascist appellation? Do I have to count the exact rate of hysterectomies in camps, the number of Proud Boys and sympathetic police, or, for that matter, pre-Trump detention and extrajudicial murder, or the body count of the unending Global War on Terror? Do I have to demonstrate the uniquely similar economics? Almost all sides in this debate seem to miss that no matter the angle of approach—political economy, law, movements, ideology, aesthetics, culture—fascism is an ordinary state of affairs for modern capitalist societies: as latent possibility, as “preventive counter-revolution,” or as the exception that is always the rule. It’s baked in the cake and certainly as American as apple pie. Fascism and liberalism are not antinomies; they too can toggle back and forth. Capital, for the moment, seems content with either option.”

If Chaudhary’s take on Trump’s neofascism tells us “fascism can begin with large numbers, or it can be imposed from above”, with Johnson and Patel’s version Brexit Britain is presented as a revolt and ends with a de-regulated shambles venerating bigotry and championing exclusion.

The resentment of national humiliation is now being played out by self-inflicted national self-humiliation as England eats itself in an orgy of ridiculousness – and all for an aim that nobody really understands. Except we do. It’s just racism.

The only thing that has changed is that the Union Jack has been replaced with the St George’s Cross as all the National Front’s dreams come true.

But the re-emergence of colonialism in early 21 Century Britain has a new twist. In Brexitland – as Fintan O’Toole has it: “the myths of suffering and endurance covered up the truth that it was mostly other people who had to endure the suffering.”

In England’s case adopting the idea of heroic failure is “an exercise in transference”, the coloniser now imagines itself as the colonised, with serious implications for those actually living in the ‘hostile environment’:

“The old empire appropriates the pain of the subject peoples and then transfers the guilt of invasion and colonisation to the immigrant.”

In this moment we are riddled with double-speak: Anglo-Britain is the victim of an imagined enemy. As Johnson plays Churchill “liberation” will mean persecution, “Global Britain” will mean isolation and an attack on ‘foreigners’, wherever they may be.

Comments (46)

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  1. Chris Ballance says:

    That NF poster is chilling. Somehow we see fascism as a sudden take-over by people wearing black shirts (or whatever). We don’t see it as something which gradually creeps up on us unawares. Well researched article, Mike – and looking down south I don’t see things getting any better in the foreseeable future.

  2. Foghorn Leghorn says:

    I’ve just dug out an old British Communist Party pamphlet from the same era. Its ‘executive summary’ reads:

    “We believe that the people of Britain should reject membership of the Common Market for the following reasons:

    1. It would have a disastrous effect on our wage prospects and living standards by making British workers compete with lower paid continental workers both in the home and overseas markets.

    2. It would undermine British independence. The British Government and Parliament would be bound by political and military decisions made by a European majority.

    3. It would hit hard at Britain’s trade with its biggest and oldest markets in the Commonwealth.

    4. British agriculture would have to adapt itself to Common Market methods. This would increase the cost of living for British families and ruin many farmers.

    5. The Common Market has refused to accept full employment as one of its objectives.

    6. Common Market rules would hamper a British Government in dealing with the balance of payments crises to which the economy is particularly prone.

    7. The British Government and Parliament would be compelled to accept the decisions of the Common Market bodies as to how our social services should be ‘harmonised’ with those of the continent.”

    The pamphlet concludes:

    “The real alternative to the Common Market is the carrying out by Britain of a truly independent political and economic line. By breaking free from the NATO alliance, by smashing down the barriers to trade with the most rapidly advancing sections of the world, by opening up trade with the Commonwealth on a much bigger scale, this country could stride forward. It has the skilled workers, the know-how and the basic equipment. What holds it back is the nineteenth century imperialist outlook of its ruling class, which is not interested in Britain’s economic development but only in its own profit. Their surrender to the Common Market marks the ultimate bankruptcy of their policy.

    “The people of Britain, wage and salary workers, farmers and small businessmen, must prevent the Tories dragging us into the Common Market. Every trade union should record its opposition to Britain’s entry into the Common Market. The result of such action would be rejection of the Tory proposal by both the TUC and Labour Party conferences. To bring this about requires the utmost discussion in the factories, the trade union branches, the Co-ops and in all organisations, so that the workers understand the danger.”

    Happy but changed days!

    1. Everyone knows the left opposed the Common Market in the 1970s. This doesn’t have any relevance to the argument laid out here.

      1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

        No, I know. It just took me back. The EU is a different kettle of fish nowadays, more progressive and not the cosy capitalist club that it was back in the day; which is, I suppose, why the Tories want out and the anti-Tories want to stay in.

      2. Foghorn Leghorn says:

        But you’re right: populism is alive and well and everywhere living off the worst in human nature.

  3. SleepingDog says:

    The British Empire’s colonial rule did not entirely collapse in the 1960s, otherwise we would not have had the Falklands/Malvinas War in 1982, the occasionally simmering disputes over Gibraltar, the handover of Hong Kong in 1997 with its messing with the Chinese over last-minute democratisation gestures, the various tax haven scandals into current times, the Chagos Archipelago saga which has made the UK a bit of an international diplomatic pariah, the global resource grabs in ecologically-sensitive territories and so on (and on). Today we have an intersection of rump neo-colonialism, militarism and racism in the treatment of Commonwealth soldiers who want to settle in the UK after their service ends.

    This really is world-beating, if you order your league tables to descend on evil:
    https://www.un.org/dppa/decolonization/nsgt

    As for those USAmerican guys-with-guns we regularly see playing death-squad dress-up on television, they look like they’ve lost too many of their old buddies to black men, women and the educational system. It is entirely unsurprising that European quasi-fascist party members struggle at times to maintain their ‘family values’ façades.

    However, since the UK has never constitutionally been a democracy, and never (for example) given up the sovereign’s war-making prerogatives and control over secret/diplomatic services, we should not see this example as a slide from democracy to fascism. Democracy has been a guttering candle-stump at best. Has the British public ever been allowed to decide who their foreign enemies are? Is it even aware of the covert wars going on? Is Parliament? Well then.

  4. Ariel Killick says:

    Great article Mike, as so often. It’s hard not to wonder, and in fear, what kind of cosmic karma comes to a country so rapacious, it seeks to mendaciously appropriate and taste for itself even the sweet joys of independence some 60 countries have fought so hard to achieve from Britain.. after helping itself to those countries’ riches and people first.. I have a deep feeling, as so many did with Trump & America, that those whom the gods seek to destroy, they first make mad.. With the constant focus on sovereignty over economic and geographic realities, many Brexiteers sound honestly like cultists, led by Boris’s Winston wannabe wankfest as he bumbles struggling to reach glorious heights of oratory, totally failing to realise what actually makes historically memorable oratory is being on the right side of history in the first place, not grasping for the nearest batshit cause so transparently based on falsehoods, delusion & Empire-hued English-supremecist exceptionalism that it’s already brought the country one of the highest deathtolls in the world even before Brexit begins. I am half English and physically grieved to see them damning people in England for decades or generations to come. Trump & Boris truly have no idea they will be ridiculed throughout the rest of history as some sort of eternal Mad King George joke taught as both lesson and warning, eventually, if there’s any justice, grouped along with Murdoch and Hitler as the most dangerous and stupid men in history…

  5. Daniel Raphael says:

    Timely, clear, and useful to all of us who wish to raise the urgent issue of incipient fascism. I say ‘incipient’ because frankly, were fascism full-fledged, we would not be having this chat. There is still time and a space to resist, and that is why and how articles such as this can still be surfaced. Please continue.

    1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

      Well, we would. Because, as the state’s war against cybercrime reveals, the internet as a medium is impossible to police.

  6. Chas Gallagher says:

    Mike, is it not true to say that the extreme left displays the same toxic ideas?

    1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

      The hard Left doesn’t do identity politics; although it has been known to employ nationalism tactically in proxy wars against capitalism. Classical Marxists like myself unanimously claim that identities are a bourgeois phenomenon, socioeconomic constructions of capitalism.

      1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

        Well, for example, the Soviet Union exploited nationalism in its proxy wars against capitalism all over the world. Classical Marxists like John MacLean sought to exploit nationalism as a tactical weapon against global capitalism in the form of the British Empire. Haven’t some elements of the Left in Scotland today aligned themselves with the cause of Independence as a means of furthering socialism?

      2. Foghorn Leghorn says:

        Alternatively, if by ‘Which ones?’ you mean ‘Which identities?’, all of them. They’re nothing more than the lifestyle brands of consumer capitalism, elements of its global hegemony.

        1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

          …expressions of our estrangement, under capitalist relations of production, from our own species-being, as Marx had it. Expressions of the decadence of modernity, as Nietzsche had it. Identities and identity politics, that is.

      3. Foghorn Leghorn says:

        Sorry! Just noticed, your question was directed to Chas. I’m wearing my other glasses, the ones which aren’t my reading ones.

  7. MacNaughton says:

    Mike

    This is a really important article, you’ve nailed it.

    Brexit is a fancy name for the basic platform of the old National Front. It was always a project which came from the English far right. That anybody on the Left could have been fool enough to vote for it is beyond me. The voices on the Left who embraced it, unsurprisingly for Brexiters, failed to look at their counterparts in Greece and Spain – Syriza and Podemos – and how, despite being on the receiving end of the worst of EuroGroup austerity, they never seriously contemplated the idea of leaving the EU. The European context is everything.

    There are other disturbing similarities between what is going on in England today and European fascism. One of the hallmarks of Fascism according to expert Robert O Paxton (“Anatomy of Fascism”), is the creation of parallel structures to government. This is what the European Research Group effectively is today, a shady, murky, shadow government within the Conservative Party, led by turns, by the merchant banker Rees Mogg – who just recently set up a company in the Republic of Ireland to avoid any Breixt turbulence for his own private business concerns – and the born again Christian, Steve Baker.

    The European Research Group, which is completely opaque to British voters, which has no obligation to take minutes or reveal funders, has been leading Britain to the right for the last few years without any accountability which a normal political party would be obliged by law to respect. It has effectively taken over the Conservative Party, with the kind of “entryism” which the Trotskyite Left of the old Labour Party back in the 80’s could only have dreamed of.

    There are other parallels too with Europe’s Fascists past: this idea that England and more generally the anglosphere has a scared historical mission which many Brexiters seem to believe. This is what the Nazis said back in the 30’s about Germany -they believed they were heirs to the ancient Greeks due to the grammatical similarities between Greek and German – and what Mussollini said about his Fascist State and the glories of ancient Rome. Franco also claimed Spain as the font of world civilization and the Christian faith.

    Add to that the current Prime Minister, the only openly racist PM of my lifetime, who is a walking tribute act to the biggest racist and imperialist of them all, Winston Churchill. Johnson happens to be a very bad actor, but if you observe his body language, the way he walks, you can see he is actually imitating Churchill… Which is totally crazy and deeply worrying…

    1. MacNaughton says:

      PS: Robert O Paxton also argues that the purest fascist state of being is that of war, war basically being the living enactment of all of fascism’s values. I would bet money on Britain getting involved in yet another war before too long…

      .

      1. MacNaughton says:

        There is also, it should be said, a more widespread arrogance and dismissal of Europe throughout British society…
        You can see it in the complete indifference not to say scorn about learning foreign languages…
        You can see it in the tiny number of cinema screens devoted to foreign language films…
        You can see it when you walk into Waterstone and there is one or two tables for “translated fiction”…
        You can see it when you read the newspaper and they talk about “Europe” as if were a single country…

        Brexit is a political project which has emerged from a wider cultural context, one in which self-obsessed, insular, arrogant, nostalgic for the imperial past (all those insufferable period dramas, like the unbearable ‘The Crown’) fanatically monoglot and, frankly, very mediocre…

        The arrogance of the people behind it, their complete indifference to reality, their total lack of knowledge of Europe, will see them depicted in the history books for what they actually are: Gove, Johnson, Fox, Farage are the traitors, they’re the saboteurs and the ir project is going to fail…

        Scotland has the chance of getting off the train at the next stop before it crashes. Let’s not miss that stop…

    2. Arboreal Agenda says:

      I think this a fair analysis and the point about the ERG is very well made.

      I grew up in east London on the 70s when the NF were everywhere. They have morphed into something different now but quite a few of the sorts you saw on pro-Brexit marches and being very vociferous in the media are just the sorts who were either actually in the NF back then or paid them lip service. And don’t forget the Tories have always paid such groups lip service, or worse at their extremes (‘Vote Labour if you want an n-person for a neighbour’). Of course we can say many who voted Brexit are not NF or raving far right types but I do agree that at heart, the idea does come from such a place, or perhaps more fairly that it was it became (the original UKIP was not right wing especially and its instigator left once it became clear that was what was happening).

      Is there a leftist case for Brexit? Yes there is and I have one good friend who voted for it for that reason (he has changed his mind now) and others I know still stand by their Leave vote. By and large though they seem like fantasists, imaging some great move to socialism because of it when it fact, the very opposite is likely to happen.

      What is the future for England? I don’t know. But I live here and like many millions we will continue to stand up for what is right come what may and fight for the country I will always call home, and despite everything is still a good place to live. Scotland should go its own way and make the best of something different without the encumbrance of Tory rule, Brexit, and with a fresh start. Who knows what might be possible if serious division can be avoided?

      1. MacNaughton says:

        Look, Brexit is not just about leaving the European Union… if it was just about that, a deal would have been signed years ago. Switzerland isn’t in the EU, nor is Norway, but they have a close working relationship with the EU through the Customs Union and / or the Single Market.

        Leaving the Customs Union, which creates a border with Northern Ireland, is just total madness…it’s the idea of complete ideological fanatics…

        So, we have to be very clear: Brexit is in its essence an ultra English nationalist project, and so of course in consequences they don’t care about Scotland or the Union or Northern Ireland, they care for nothing except their own anal obsession with “control” and “sovereignty”… it’s a political project which is a kind of akin to a compulsive-obsessive mental disorder of some kind…

        I mean, when are Unionists in Scotland going to accept the fact that the people who run England don’t care about Scotland or the Union or anything except themselves? Unionists in Scotland may want to be in a Union with England, but England no longer wants to be in a Union with Scotland… it’s blindingly obvious…

        Even Remain England doesn’t really care. Look at Nick Clegg!!! The big Europhile Nick Clegg, who opens the door to Farage and Brexit, and then, instead of staying and fighting his corner, cuts and runs, taking a high paid job at Facebook in LA…

        Or read Timothy Garton Ash in The Guardian today. For so long apparently a Europhile, his article today is clearly a pivot towards the new reality of Brexit Britain…

        These guys, Nick Clegg, or Timothy Garton Ash, when push comes to shove, when the center of political power is facing the way it is England, well, don’t expect them to stand up for ideals or principles or anything like that… they will go wherever it takes to maintain their power and influence….ultimately, they come from the same social class which runs this country and believe themselves to be superior morally and intellectually to the rest of the world…

        1. John O'Dowd says:

          MacNaughton: “I mean, when are Unionists in Scotland going to accept the fact that the people who run England don’t care about Scotland or the Union or anything except themselves? Unionists in Scotland may want to be in a Union with England, but England no longer wants to be in a Union with Scotland… it’s blindingly obvious…”

          Well, up to a point, MacNaughton. Certainly they don’t care a jot about the people of Scotland, or Wales or especially Ireland, but then again, they don’t care much about the ordinary people of England either – except insofar as they a gullible means to their English Nationalist end, and an instrument of their subjugation of all of Her Majesty’s subjects.

          And don’t be fooled into thinking that they “don’t want to be in a Union with Scotland” Certainly they don’t want such a Union as you and I might understand it – and as broadly laid out in the Treaties/Acts of Union. But they most certainly DO WANT to retain the territory of Scotland (and Wales – maybe not N. Ireland if it’s too much bother) since it is an important part of their military- territorial strategy and nationalist grandiosity, a source of wealth, and not unimportantly their northern playground.

          They want the land alright – the people? well they can go fuck.

          And so the land grab of devolved matters, and the open declaration that they wish to undo devolution, and the mutterings of a ‘New Act of Union’ which you can count on being simply one of territorial incorporation into Greater England. Which to be fair was always the ruling class interpretation of the Act of Union, creating North Britain – so enthusiastically enjoined by the quisling ‘Scottish’ elites – and a widely held attitude (even if subliminally) in New Town Edinburgh.

          There IS a bigger picture – there IS a gameplay, and it is IS discernible – even if not by the quivering, dithering, complacent leadership of the SNP.

      2. MacNaughton says:

        The big difference between Scotland and England, A.Agenda, is that Scotland does not have an elite culture. Scotland doesn’t have two elite universities – for 50 million people!!!! – designed to specifically create an elite which will go on to run the country, like Oxford and Cambridge in England…

        Scotland has five ancient universities – for 5.5 million people – which all have roughly equal weight and which, by the way, punch way above their weight..

        .In Scotland, you don’t get anywhere because you have a posh accent… the Scots distrust elitism and recoil from it…Glasgow is perhaps the only city in the English speaking world where, if anything, the middle class actually try to sound more like the working class than the other way around…

        1. Arboreal Agenda says:

          OK fine, England is the devil incarnate containing a majority of xenophobes, fascists, racists, mercenaries and charlatans (oh, and monoglots). Scotland is like the promised land by comparison. I get it.

          As an Englishman living in England all my life I reject that sweeping OTT analysis based on only what you want to see i.e. the worst of everything. Does it ever occur to you that you might lack perspective?

          I’m done here: my contributions are redundant; my understanding of Scottish nationalism is now much clearer and hanging around any longer is simply depressing reading diatribe after diatribe in the articles and comments against the country of my birth.

          Good luck with independence.

          1. MacNaughton says:

            Sleeping Dog, replying to a dismissive, petulant and obnoxious post by Arboreal Agenda can hardly be described as creating a hostile environment for anybody…

            But where is the opposition to Johnson’s botched Brexit in England? Sorry am I missing something? Keir Starker is going to vote for it if there is a deal that is..another spineless and cowardly response from Remain England…

            There we a handful of English journalists who have gone to the trouble of sticking to reality and decrying this nonsensical project for what it is: Polly Tonybee, William Keegan, Nick Coen and a few others….

            But by any measure, the opposition to Brexit in England has been an abject failure…It’s looking like No Deal and it didn’t have to be like that. Remain England have been totally ineffective even in watering Brexit down to its least toxic form, and that in large part is due to the serial incompetence of the Labour Party whose MPs receive a salary from the public purse to provide a democratic alternative….

            The SNP must take their share of the blame for not cutting a deal.with May, but I’m going g to repeat myself on that again (woops, I just did)

          2. SleepingDog says:

            @ MacNaughton, when I studied contemporary issues in British politics a few decades ago, we looked at various problems of legitimacy and inclusion. The picture has evolved but themes continue. The system is rigged to protect the status quo. Very little actual democracy takes place, certainly not at national level, and I believe I have already made my views plain on the political party system which results in successful platforms that commonly do not represent what research suggests majority views might be (and parties are not legally obliged to carry out manifesto promises in office). One might look at low UK turnout levels as indicators of a democratic deficit. Public trust in politicians is apparently very low, and corruption and lobbying seen as powerful negative forces, so like many people I do not expect too much from opposition MPs or political representatives in general. Sections of society are apparently not entirely policed by consent. The First-Past-the-Post system concentrates power in two or three parties at most and retards the growth of new parties. Corporate media seems to have a great influence over public political debate (and studies have shown that the commercial press seems to set the agenda for more-state-than-public broadcaster BBC news, see MediaLens for more on that). Urban politics used to be where a lot of people engaged, but UK centralisation (extreme by European standards) has drained some of the potential out of that sphere.

            I don’t see you can have it both ways. There is a systemic democratic deficit in UK politics, therefore we cannot entirely blame the electorate for whatever government gets into power. Is non-voting behaviour a kind of apathy or rejection or voter-suppression? We just don’t know. What will be the result of current politics and the education system on the upcoming batch of new voters? We cannot know that, but the demographics suggest they will not be as fixated on old totems of the British Empire as previous generations.

            This does not mean I would disagree with some of your statements if they were qualified, evidenced and put into sound arguments.

          3. MacNaughton says:

            I take on board your points Sleeping Dog and agree with you. But I’m making a different point. I’m pointing out that the Parliamentary Labour Party draws a large salary from the public purse to provide an alternative Brexit policy to the government, that is the opposition’s role in a democracy….

            The current PLP has not offered an alternative Brexit policy and have played a major part in the whole Brexit fiasco. They are not doing the job they are paid to do, obsessed as they are with a few red wall seats. Starmer is just another pathetic and spineless Labour leader with no principles, no ideals and no cojones….Labour should be 20 points clear in the polls….

      3. SleepingDog says:

        @Arboreal Agenda, Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government rejection of an EU consensus on worker’s rights was indicative of the outlying position of the UK:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_Charter_of_the_Fundamental_Social_Rights_of_Workers
        However, although the Conservatives may have been more explicitly racist, in power Labour was every bit as imperial and colonial a party of government (even if Harold Wilson was not regarded as part of the club by coup-considering Lord Mountbatten), and you can find the evidence for this in the works of historian-specialist Mark Curtis amongst others.

    3. Thanks MacNaughton. Working on follow up analysis for Sunday as this extraordinary shit show unfolds.

      1. MacNaughton says:

        Looking forward to reading the follow up.

        Another requisite to qualify for Fascism as per Paxton is the complete immersing of life, private life included, into the ideological ultra nationalist / fascist solution so that there is literally no free space to think independently because the whole of society is soaked in the same ideology.

        In addition to the crudest of propaganda, Hitler and Mussolini of course even went so far as to set up youth organizations so that children would be indoctrinated in German and Italian fascist value from the earliest age. The Nazis had Kraft Durch Freude (Strength Through Joy) while the more prosaic Italians had Dopo Lavoro (After Work) , a youth organization of the same bent.

        Today, with the ideologically airtight bubbles of the social media, one fears we have a similar effect….

      2. MacNaughton says:

        The fact is Bella, we are on dangerous ground…

        A quasi fascist England is a big problem for the world. If you look at the ideological history of Europe from 1850-1945, the German master race superiority complex can be traced and grows and grows and grows….

        Some of the most brilliant Germans, from Hegel to Wagner to Martin Heidegger believe it is Germany’s destiny to lead civilization. Hitler is the logical conclusion of Teutonic exceptionalism. For thinkers like Heidegger, to philosophise outside of German and Greek is literally impossible….The other languages of Europe aren’t endowed for philosophical speculation…And Greek philosophy is what the whole of civilization is built on….

        In the Anglo-Saxon world of the USA and England, we see something similar in the 19th century. The Americans invent the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, which is to say, that unlimited US military expansion is an act of divine providence. The Brexiters hero is Churchill who of course believed the North Europeans were racially superior to the rest of the planet. Like many people of his time, Churchill believed there existed a racial hierarchy…

        These ideas were all discredited by Auschwitz and Hiroshima and more or less quietly dropped. Theodore Adorno called for the catastrophe of the Shoa and the Camps to be at the forefront of our thinking in terms of politics and society. Others, thinking on their own will and volition, came to similar conclusions and gave us the Welfare State as a great stabilizer of society and multilateral international organizations like the UN and the EU for similar reasons….

        The Brexiters have torn down the Welfare State and are smashing a big hole in the European Union, while they brazenly claim England is “a world beater”at virtually everything…The Anglo-Saxon delusion of leading civilization has become a commonplace, in the mouth of that extremely foolish arsehole, Boris Johnson. Government Ministers cry on live television for love of queen and country…

        England is in thrall to a fantasy and a nationwide delusion…

        …dangerous ground…

        1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

          Dearie me, MacNaughton! More clothes from the emperor’s bargain basement. Rumours of the Apocalypse are greatly exaggerated.

        2. florian albert says:

          ‘The Brexiters have torn down the welfare state’.

          That being the case, can you tell me who is paying my state pension into my bank account every four weeks ? I want to send them a Christmas card, by way of thanks.

          1. Foghorn Leghorn says:

            Which reminds me, I need to get my repeat prescription filled before Christmas… And that means a trip on the bus to the chemist in the village; it’s been a while since I used my bus pass.

            The Welfare State is thriving. It’s larger today than its ever been. It just commissions more services nowadays from the private sector, which includes voluntary organisations, social enterprises, and ‘arm’s-length’ NPDOs. Like how I used to clean my own upstairs windows but now pay a contractor to do it.

            Mind you, I don’t have to go through an expensive, belt-and-braces procurement process to hire a window-cleaner. Still, I suppose the quality of the goods and services the Welfare State procures on our behalf needs to be assured. Like the Welfare State, however, I do monitor the performance of my contract with the window-cleaner. If he misses a bit and/or tries to charge me more than another trader would for the same service, he’ll be out on his *rs*. In the competition to clean my windows, as in that to win government contracts, it’s dog-eat-dog.

          2. Tom Ultuous says:

            You must’ve landed lucky with the dates. There were some who were robbed of 5 or 6 years because they were born a day too early. The French rioted when Macron tried to downgrade their pensions to a level that was much better than the level ours were at before they were downgraded. Not a whimper in the “UK”.. The thick Brexiteer alliance even seemed to agree with what the tory scum were doing. Of course the I’m-all-right-Jack mob don’t expect to get sick and intend to work into their nineties. A lot of them are about to find out just exactly what they’ve stood by and let this scum get away with w.r.t. the welfare state. Benefit sanctions, a days work to get through to the correct DWP department, filling in massive forms by pen only, interview diaries, poverty, homelessness, suicidal thoughts. If I was capable I’d write a book called “Take The Guilty With You” because we can’t be far off the point where people at their humiliation’s end will force a scum bag to share their early bath.

          3. Tom Ultuous says:

            If Mari Antoinette had been an English PM when she came away with the soundbite “Can’t they eat cake?” she’d have secured another 2 terms in office with it.

            PS (I know it probably wasn’t her who said it.

          4. Foghorn Leghorn says:

            I’m hoping that those years of pension that were ‘stolen’ from me will be added on at the other end of my retirement.

            It’s those poor b*gg*rs whose life expectancy means that they won’t see any pension that I feel sorry for. All those national insurance premiums they’ve been compelled to pay to the Welfare State… for nothing.

  8. Morning …

    elements if this thread have deteriorated in tone down to name calling and abuse.

    I’m removing the comments that transgress our comments policy and we are going to start again.

    Learning to abide alongside people we disagree with vehemently needs to be learned.

    From our comments policy:

    “ad hominem attacks and personal abuse won’t be tolerated. If you don’t like an article that’s fine – but try and address the authors ideas – not the person.”

    This applies to other people commenting too.

    More here: https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2019/03/14/comments-on-comments/

    If you repeatedly break these guidelines you’ll just be removed.

    As you were.

    Ed.

    1. MacNaughton says:

      OMG, what a patronizing tone… anyway…
      I think Bella you ought to tell long time contributors like myself where you are getting your new found funding from.
      I think we have a right to know that, given so many of us have been contributing for many years to this site, both financially and with writing of one sort or another (whether above or below the line).
      Obviously, I am very pleased that you appear to have secured some financial stability, but it’s only fair that you let us know.
      Increasingly, there are articles here which seem to me to be related to the current SNP culture wars / party divide, something which I really have no interest in at all, much less want to be seen to take sides in…

      1. Hi MacNaughton

        we announced our new programme of work back in August. We got a small grant to fund from the Necessity network to fund a handful of commissioning editor positions to support media diversity. The details are here:

        https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2020/08/20/many-voices-changing-scottish-media/

        You say “there are articles here which seem to me to be related to the current SNP culture wars / party divide, something which I really have no interest in at all, much less want to be seen to take sides in…” I’m not really sure which articles you are referring to or if this refers to the strand of work Ive outlined.

        Sadly to say we have no other funders at all – no advertisers – no big backers – other than this funded project for which we are gratefully appreciative.

        We are funded overwhelmingly by our readers (as we have been from the start).

        Lastly your not “taking sides” by reading an article, you’re just reading it. We are not a party and we don’t have a manifesto. We have a broad outlook, which we’re pretty up front about.

        I hope that answers your questions, if not feel free to contact me.

        Mike

        1. MacNaughton says:

          Thanks for that, Mike.
          No, I am not referring to your diversity commitment, which I applaud.
          I suppose the question I am asking is, are there any big donors (say over three figures) associated with one of the factions of the SNP?
          Bella seems to me to have become something of a vehicle for one of the SNP factions.
          And it’s naive or disingenuous to suggest that publishing points of view which are highly partisan about certain issues is just putting them out there. That is what the gutter press also say.
          No coverage of Assange trial, or Salmond trial, no critique of the total absence of any real strategy by the SNP govt to get us out this mess.
          I am unashamedly furious about Brexit and the white supremacist currently the PM of the UK.
          When I turned into the Big Indy night on Saturday, I really didn’t get any feeling of urgency of outrage or the sense that people were hungry for change. I got a sense of drift and complacency.
          We need a plan of action, fast…I have heard enough talk…

          1. No I am not secretly being funded by any faction of the SNP. No. I’m not even a member of the SNP, nor, have I ever been. There are no circumstances in which I would accept such an arrangement.

            You can read some analysis of the Assange trial on Bella from October here: https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2020/10/02/democracy-dies-in-the-old-bailey/

            I think what you are experiencing is people who have a different analysis from you about what’s going on – that’s all.

        2. MacNaughton says:

          There is no point going round in circles over this…perceptions differ…

          We are in a very different country than we were even 18 months ago. 2014 seems like a different age entirely (an innocent age in comparison to now) Yet I feel that somehow we’ve lost our enthusiasm and zest. We’ve all said the same thing too many times already. The freshness is gone, we’re lackidsical at best, jaded at worst. We’ve been ground down by the infernal Tories. We need to get our vim back…I feel like I’m in the twilight zone or similar…

          We need a spark, some inspiration, a lamplight of some kind….

  9. Driving with the top down says:

    Some how found my self here! . Always liked James Masons wonderful speech in movie fall of the Roman empire about human frontiers! Intellectually I’m probably out side of my comfort zone here did get city and guild ! Oh k here goes we have reached this point because of education remember Tony B s speech..Nealy there ..not quit!he made students pay for uni yet the Elephant has been in the room for a very very long time the well educated left like of which are all over the Labour party momentum and many others .since the end of w2 the socialists have completely failed in nealy all of there objectives in confronting capitalism then came Thatcher and the spinless retreat by Norman Willis at TUC conference 84 not supporting the miners gave an Evan sorrier picture for the movement! The truth is the socialists have made it tough on them selves and the answer was and is simple Education years ago we had the 11plus implemented by the establishment to sort out the doctor s from the bin men! a balls out attempt at passive eugenics and turning working class kids in to Tory’s thus weakening community’s and draining them of its people leaving estates run down and crime riddled ..just as planned and easy pray for the far right also set up by the establishment to divide the the working class vote? Hitler said this we will give the slaves just enough education to read the road signs so as not get run over by are tanks!…The British education system set up by the establishment is not that far from that statement .The answer is simple scrap A level s and have a citizens degree doing the last six months at uni thus finely really empowering the working class the people seeing things more clearly understanding of all world around the Oxford and Cambridge elite don’t want us thinking thats dangerous for slaves!?if we do this labour party and the movement will rise once more then we will have are human frontiers!!…. Had to get that in!

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