2007 - 2021

Brexit Failure and the Blitz Spirit

In the latest wheeze of the Brexit debacle we’re told that foreign lorry drivers will now be able to make an unlimited number of pick-ups and drop-offs in a fixed period in the UK under changes to rules proposed by the government to prevent shortages of products in the run-up to Christmas and into the new year.

Take. Back. Control.

As the supply chain grinds down and the prospect of an unpopular Christmas debacle (no Pigs in Blankets!) the Brexit fiasco as ‘managed’ by Johnson’s Government from the Beach reaches new levels of absurdity. It all has the feel of lurching from one catastrophe to another with the most minimal input. ‘Light touch’ is the watchword.

The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said the effect of the proposed change – to what’s called cabotage rules – was the “equivalent of adding thousands of extra lorry drivers to the road, but we don’t have to do anything with visas in order to do this”. He added: “People will be able to get things for Christmas – these measures are having an impact, things are loosening up.”

The government – the one we didn’t elect – is terrified of Christmas – as they were last year. The moves to bring in more foreign workers – the exact opposite of the entire Brexit project – comes after the government reported they had recruited twenty (20) new HGV drivers. In a sense this is ideal for everyone. Workers are “allowed in” to do a service the political cabal has forced into crisis, they are paperless and serve only to function. The fact that it undermines a whole industry here and contravenes the governments own recent rhetoric and the entire raison d’etre of Brexit doesn’t matter at all. Everything is hyper-short-term. Everything is spectacle, and in this case the spectacle is Christmas, which must be saved. It’s all feted by a faithful crew of hacks. In The Times Clare Foges writes: “Don’t bet on a hard winter toppling Boris”. She explains “We’ve got used to a degree of chaos during the pandemic and many secretly enjoy the  chance to show some Blitz spirit.”

Brexit, which can now be seen as the political manifestation of the Keep Calm and Carry On meme has a long history of drawing on Second World War metaphors, as if the EU were Nazi Germany to be defeated only by our unique and indomitable spirit, and Dunkirk, the Home Guard, Anderson Shelters and, of course, the Blitz are all regularly referenced in this bizarre exercise in Anglo-British nostalgia. Foges scribbles in the Times was perhaps a new low. Here she is a privileged journalist who had previously been a speechwriter for David Cameron evoking a war she didn’t live through, celebrating ‘a degree of chaos’ she has never experienced. It’s pretty vile in every conceivable way.

She continued: “I reckon a large chunk of the population doesn’t just endure national crises like these but rather enjoys them. Yes, tracking down petrol is irritating and no one relishes the thought of bare supermarket shelves but the truth is that many find the collective experience of a crisis diverting and even fun.”

As front-line workers carry-on through stress and exhaustion and the brutal inequalities of post-austerity Britain are exposed by the pandemic this kind of hobby-journalism is sado-populism gone mad.

Over at the Mail on Sunday, Sir Iain Duncan Smith joined the World War Two themes by bashing civil servants and other workers who want to keep working from home on account of COVID-19 posing a risk to their lives. Their refusal to return to their desks sets a bad example, according to Sir Iain:

“Working from home is rapidly emerging as a new ‘right’”, the former leader of the Conservative Party explained: “When I think of all the brave civil servants who went to work in the 1940s, determined to do their bit regardless of the threat from falling bombs, I wonder what has happened to us as a nation.”

Here we are in the week when a cross-party group of MPs surprised absolutely nobody and called the UK government’s Covid response ‘one of UK’s worst ever public health failures in history’ and these people have the temerity and opportunism to evoke the Blitz. The Guardian reports: “Groupthink”, evidence of British exceptionalism and a deliberately “slow and gradualist” approach meant the UK fared “significantly worse” than other countries, according to the 151-page “Coronavirus: lessons learned to date” report led by two former Conservative ministers. Boris Johnson did not order a complete lockdown until 23 March 2020, two months after the government’s Sage committee of scientific advisers first met to discuss the crisis.”

In this and in so much else Brexit and the Pandemic have morphed and merged into one giant indistinguishable entity. This has at least three clear examples. Not only did ‘British’ (sic) exceptionalism feed the slowness to go to lockdown; but the mythical rhetoric about “Global Britain” fed the lunacy of completely failing to control or regulate air travel. Thirdly the Tories have used the pandemic as cover for their own self-inflicted Brexit nightmare.

The hypocrisy and the litany of lies piles up.

In Felixstowe, Britain’s biggest container port, is so full that the world’s largest shipping company is diverting its vessels elsewhere. The decision by Danish firm Maersk to send one of its weekly super-ships holding 18,000 containers to unload on the Continent is unfortunate news for the Suffolk port, which complains that its problems are rooted not in a lack of space but in the dearth of truck driversneeded to shift the containers full of Christmas goods to shops and warehouses.

Who could have seen this coming? Oh, yeah, absolutely everybody.

Now we have Lord Frost in an interview with ITV about the Northern Ireland Protocol saying: “We negotiated to find a result.” Some say they’re being disingenuous, they’re not they’re just lying. The British governments behaviour over the Northern Ireland Protocol is staggering. It’s astonishingly dishonest and reckless. As Fabian Zuleeg the Chief Executive & Chief Economist, European Policy Centre said: “The UK government has no intention of keeping to what it negotiated & signed up to. His speech is a calculated insult, containing much falsehood, culminating in an impossible demand to replace the Protocol with a new UK drafted legal text. This will not end well.”

Frost was responding to the fact that Ireland has warned countries around the world not to trust the UK because it is run by a “British government that doesn’t necessarily keep its word”. Irish deputy prime minister Leo Varadkar urged countries to be careful when dealing with the UK because of the “bad faith” demonstrated in the government’s plans to overhaul a key agreement signed as part of the Brexit deal. After agreeing to the Northern Ireland Protocol – part of the Brexit arrangement that means checks on some goods and services flowing between Great Britain and NI – the UK has continually sought to change aspects of it.

In all of this bizarre posturing Britain’s reputation – such as it was – is utterly trashed. ‘Global Britain’ is synonymous with lying. For all that Britain stood outside of a number of European conventions and regulations being politely humoured with endless opt-outs and exceptions, now it wants more of the same. It now wants to opt-out of the inevitable consequences and impossibilities of its own treaties which it negotiated in bad faith only a few months away.

If the British want to threaten the stability of Northern Ireland and the peace agreement then so be it, they are recklessly ahistorical, and it just adds to the crisis and multiple fracture-cracks in the Union on many fronts. Finally the Union Hypocrisy exposed by the “Coronavirus: lessons learned to date” report is astonishing. The report laid out in stark terms the absolutely disastrous handling of the pandemic we all just lived through and watched in real-time. This was the very same set of policies that the Conservative and Unionists urged Scotland to follow to the letter and shrieked in horror when Nicola Sturgeon’s government deviated from in any sense at all. Now, even with the benefit of hindsight none of these people blushed in their reiteration of this madness. The backlog of problems this government is storing up for itself is an unforgivable phenomenon and an unsurvivable process.

 

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  1. Tom Ultuous says:

    I sometimes wonder if they’re saving initiating an IRA mainland blitz for when they run out of smokescreens so they’ll be able to go back into Dunkirk / Blitz mode. At least they won’t be able to wheel out Vera Lynn again.

  2. John Davis says:

    They told us that we would keep our own Freedom of Movement rights (Johnson). They claimed that we could cut red tape if we left (Vote Leave). They promised no border down the Irish sea (Johnson, Gove), that we would remain in the Single Market (Hannan, Johnson, Leadsom) and have an even better deal (Vote Leave), that there was no threat to the student Erasmus scheme (Johnson), that shopping bills would be cut (Paterson, Rees-Mogg) and there would be no shortages (Gove, Farage, Raab). They promised 350 million pounds a week to the NHS (Vote Leave), with no downside to Brexit (Davis), and that there would be no big bill but a windfall (Braverman). They said we should ignore the pessimists and the merchants of doom (Johnson) and that the country would prosper mightily (Johnson) and that we would be thriving in 2021 (Hannan).

    They lied. They knew they would lose if they told the truth, so they lied to win the vote. For Cummings it was a game. For Johnson it was for self-promotion. For others it was for political or career reasons or from an irrational hatred of the EU driven by an outdated ideology. They relied on the public lack of understanding of the benefits of membership and the actual democratic processes of the EU, and in doing so they have given away our rights as Europeans, damaged our economy and diminished our international voice. The evidence of the damage being caused is all around – we are now living it.

    So how are you doing, five years on, what with all that prospering and thriving? Who can still think it was worth leaving the EU for all the unachieved advantages, the undisclosed opportunities. Do they understand yet that they were misled for the sake of a Tory factional ideology, and that people were manipulated by a group of self-serving Westminster Tory egotists, ideologues, fantasists and career opportunists, backed by a right-wing press pushing their own agenda for profit, with the consequence of ruin to the country and the future of so many families?

    Now they want to blame everything on the virus. Not because it’s legitimate, but because it provides useful cover amid the public confusion they themselves have created. Good for a while, good for papering over the cracks while the foundations collapse. The virus will be gone soon but Brexit damage will be with us until Scotland cuts itself loose, rejoins the EU and once again enjoys the benefits, rights and equal status of 27 other independent countries.

    1. Derek Cameron says:

      Thanks for gathering up ( almost ) all of the lies in one place.

  3. Cathie Lloyd says:

    I’ve not been to England for ten years, but anecdotally it sounds as though everyone has embraced Johnson’s freedom day – a lowest common denominator response? I’ve been keeping away from public places. But yesterday next to Craigmillar health centre where I went for my third covid jag, I noticed people all wearing masks outside the pharmacy and queuing at aa respectful distance. Someone needs to analyse whether its leadership or community spirit – or both – which has helped to make us considerate of others.

    1. Jim Sansbury says:

      In our Coop the other day were two maskless English tourists.
      The manager politely reminded them that in Scotland it was the First Ministers advice to wear masks in enclosed spaces and would they please do so.
      The very loud response in broad Yorkshire, “My prime Minister is Boris and Ill do as he says and you can tell your fookin Nicola to fookin fook off!”
      Nice eh?!

      1. Niemand says:

        Thing is, it isn’t advice is it? In Scotland it is the law still to wear a mask in shops and English customers are required to wear one. So both the shopkeeper (saying it is ‘advice’) and the English customers were wrong (Scotland’s law on this matter is devolved). In England it is no longer the law of course and once that stipulation was removed it was inevitable voluntary use would drop off.

  4. Robbie says:

    Between the Royals , the “Tory Party full of liars and cheats “plus their Owners “ I reckon the U.K. will soon hit Rock Bottom, Time for Scotland to cast off and steer our own course in the world.

  5. William Davison says:

    “The British government’s behaviour over the Northern Ireland Protocol is staggering. It’s astonishingly dishonest and reckless.” From the perspective of someone who actually lives in Northern Ireland the same thing could be said about the behaviour of the Irish government and the EU, as the Protocol drives a bulldozer through the Good Friday Agreement, specifically it removes all the guarantees to Unionists in the GFA, it removes the principle of consent in the GFA, it demolishes the very foundational ethos of the GFA , which was that there should be equilibrium and equality between the Unionist and Nationalist traditions in Northern Ireland. The Protocol tilts that equilibrium hugely in favour of the latter tradition, by breaking the guarantee in the GFA that “it would be wrong to make any change in the status of Northern Ireland save with the consent of a majority of its people.” The Protocol dramatically changes the status of NI and nobody here has consented to it. Up to this point the Irish government and EU have continually expressed their concern for the GFA, while promoting a “solution” in the Protocol, which breaks both the letter and the spirit of the GFA. So if the British government is guilty of dishonesty and recklessness, it is more than matched by the Irish government and EU. Perhaps they might belatedly demonstrate their oft- trumpeted devotion to the GFA by supporting a referendum in Northern Ireland on the Protocol, lets get consent for it, from those who are most affected by it. But I’m not holding hold my breath.

    1. Alec Lomax says:

      If Northern Ireland doesn’t want to be in the Single Market could Scotland take it’s place instead?

      1. Jim Sansbury says:

        🙂

    2. Tom Ultuous says:

      How you can blame the Irish republic or EU is beyond me. All sane people knew the GFA was in danger with Brexit yet the DUP campaigned for, cheated for and voted for Brexit. In what way is it “hugely in favour of” republicans? The same rules apply to both sides. We’ll probably all end up coming over there to get toys for Christmas. There should never have been a Brexit referendum. There should’ve been an English independence referendum instead. Then we’d all have been able to get on with our lives without being ruled over by scum who want to reduce us to nothing more than slaves working solely to exist.

      Even if there was no border in the Irish sea the DUP would’ve seen remaining in the single market as some kind of climb down. Nothing short of a border between north and south will appease them.

    3. Jim Sansbury says:

      The Protocol was agreed by the EU and Westminster.
      In it the EU bent several of its rules to accommodate the Westminster government.
      The have recently bent them still further and everyone in NI besides the DUP seems to be happy with the situation.
      The culprits are Westminster and the DUP.

  6. Robbie says:

    Tom, we all know why England wants to keep the union ,they can’t bear the thought of being exposed as the tiny country they are on the map , that’s the Only reason.

    1. Tom Ultuous says:

      They would love to be rid of the north of Ireland Robbie, even if they don’t say it out loud. If there’s ever a border poll in Ireland they’ll pay it nothing but lip service. Unfortunately they won’t afford us the same indifference. They’ll throw the state media machine and every lie under the sun to hang on to us supposed parasites. The only friends they have left live on the Malvinas Islands.

      1. MBC says:

        That’s very true, but the NI unionists are very slow to catch on.

  7. MBC says:

    I don’t know how William Davison can claim the Protocol breaches the issue of consent in the GFA plus other aspects when it was voted for by 12 DUP elected NI MPs.

    Shouldn’t he be blaming Arlene Foster?

  8. MBC says:

    And as for the Protocol making a change in the status of NI unless a majority agreed? As I recollect a majority clearly voted in 2016 to remain in the EU but are being dragged out anyway.

    When are the Protestants in NI going to cotton on to the fact that the UK does not want you? When are you going to face up to this and start doing some hard grown up thinking about your situation instead of hanging on like limpets to the dregs of the British Empire?

    You are either on your own or part of the Republic of Ireland. You have Stormont. Why don’t you just go for independence if you can’t stomach Dublin?

    1. Mons Meg says:

      But a majority didn’t vote in 2016 to remain in the EU. The electorate voted 52-48 to leave. People resident in NI were part of that electorate but didn’t comprise it. Dumgall has a Scottish government ‘it didn’t vote for’ for exactly the same reason.

    2. Tom Ultuous says:

      I think NI costs the “UK” govt something like 7 billion a year. Even if there was a majority in the north for a united Ireland would the south vote for it? They’d be better (initially at least) going for independence or a federal Ireland but making sure that Britain continues to pay for its past follies.

      1. Mons Meg says:

        I remember reading an article in the Irish Times a couple of years ago, in which the commentator (I can’t remember their name) wrote that the UK exchequer provides a £10 billion annual subsidy to NI compared to a net £8 billion net each year to the EU, yet we don’t see buses going around England with the slogan: “We send NI £204 million a week. Let’s fund our NHS instead. Vote Leave!” emblazoned on their sides.

        The same writer also pointed out that the latest Future of England Survey, organised by researchers in Edinburgh and Cardiff universities, asked voters in each of the UK’s nations whether they’d prioritise a hard Brexit over a hard border in Ireland, and found that an overwhelming majority of Conservative voters in England would prefer to see Scotland become independent and a breakdown of the peace process in Northern Ireland rather than compromise on their support for Brexit.

        Basically, the Survey concluded that the Unions are at least as much threatened by those who regard themselves as unionists as by those who regard themselves as nationalists. The popular unionism at the base of Conservatism in England is ‘fraying’. Separatism is on the rise among Tory voters.

        The Survey also found that intra-UK solidarity is much stronger among ordinary Labour voters in England than among Conservatives. Overall, non-Conservative voters in England support the UK’s union much more than Tory voters. Hence perhaps the long-standing antipathy of the Labour leadership towards separatism and nationalism?

        This Survey bears out the view that the end of the UK is more likely to come from the secession of an England no longer prepared to pay the price of political and/or economic union than from Scottish (or Northern Irish) voters.

        1. Alec Lomax says:

          They want rid of the Jocks and NI? Perhaps they would care to write to their MPs ?

          1. Mons Meg says:

            Perhaps they will if unionism comes to seriously threaten the independence of a hard Brexit.

    3. William Davison says:

      I would suggest people download a copy of the Good Friday Agreement, it’s only 27 pages so it shouldn’t take long to read. The opening Constititional Issues section is the most important as it sets the foundation upon which the rest of the agreement is built. The Protocol clearly breaks both the letter and entire ethos of the GFA and is a recipe for open-ended instability in N.I. . As to the majority of people in NI voting to remain in the EU, it is true that a majority of those who voted did vote Remain. Of the total electorate 34% voted Remain, 28% voted Leave and 38% didn’t vote. Just because you voted for the whole UK to Remain in 2016, does not mean that you support the Protocol, many Remain voters were unionists for whom the U.K. union and full citizenship within it, are much more important then continuing semi-membership of the E.U., under an unelected, unaccountable viceroy (currently Maros Sefkovic), with 60% of our laws made by a court into which we have no input, over which we have no control.

      1. Tom Ultuous says:

        If you say the GFA has been broken then it’s the British govt that broke it. Why are you blaming the EU & the Irish republic? Neither of them wanted Brexit.

        You say “semi-membership of the E.U., under an unelected, unaccountable viceroy (currently Maros Sefkovic), with 60% of our laws made by a court into which we have no input, over which we have no control.” but David Frost is unelected. You have little control over laws made by Westminster as demonstrated by the fact you’re having to suck up their meddling with the GFA. I don’t know if you voted for Brexit but, if you did, could you be the first Brexiteer to be able to tell me 3 EU laws you disagreed with?

        When will loyalists wake up and see who the real enemy is here. The Eton scum.

    4. Hamish100 says:

      62% voted in Scotland to remain as did Northern Ireland to a lesser degree but now has a economic advantage.

  9. SleepingDog says:

    Before the Blitz (which was partially provoked by Churchill, who had earlier sabotaged British industrial strength in his time as Chancellor, leaving the country unprepared to defend its civilian population) even began, British people, particularly Londoners, were killing their own pets in a panic-striken holocaust. See Hilda Kean on The Great Cat and Dog Massacre:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_pet_massacre

    During the actual Blitz, crimes of many kinds rose, such as the soldiers set to guard bombed buildings opportunistically stripping their roofs of lead and selling them to willing scrap merchants (according to Clive Emsley in Soldier, Sailor, Beggerman, Thief: Crime and the British Armed Services Since 1914). Women especially had reason to be terrified of the blackout, although anyone on the roads was at particularly high risk of lightless traffic accidents and speeding military vehicles.

    German civilians (the ones who survived the Nazis, far greater Allied bombing, homelessness, cold, hunger, retributions, the depredations of invading and occupying armed forces etc.) should have at least ten times the British Blitz spirit. And of course they achieved the postwar economic miracle, although a lot of ex-Nazis came back into influential positions, and WG Sebald partly attributes that to a totalitarian work ethic and employing foreign workers.

    Historican Lucy Worsley exploded some Blitz myths in her recent docudrama on BBC. One enduring myth was that ‘we were all in it together’, which kind of glosses over the enormous inequalities, incompetencies and corruption in British society, where the lives of the rich carried on, thanks to the black market and basically a caste system of different rules applying at each level. According to Norman Baker, the ration-free royals gorged. The British authorities were so concerned about revolutionary murmurings that they commissioned leftwing groups like Mass Observation as a trusted monitor of public discontent. Since the Blitz was used to justify Allied bombing of German urban areas apparently to break civilian morale (more accurately, Bomber Harris’ attempted genocide by air, given the milder euphemism ‘dehousing’), one wonders what lessons the British authorities were drawing at the time.

  10. johnny english says:

    Hark at mike. His ‘celtic’ nation has stolen for itself superior privileges from london specifically to give itself more control over its own affairs and very deliberately blocked the rest of the population from obtaining the same and here he is sneering at those lesser mortals endeavouring to control their own affairs. What a total celt

    1. Wul says:

      WTF are you on about?

      You’ve got “English” in your name. Why not use it in your comments.

      1. Drew Anderson says:

        Indeed Wul.

        Clearly the poster you’re responding to has a bee in his bunnet. However, what said bee is, that’s anyone’s guess.

        Perhaps it’s (the opening salvo in) a campaign to have gibberish elevated to recognised minority language status?

  11. Hamish100 says:

    Do the little englanders realise that the blitz resulted in areas being desolated for years, ordinary people ending up as casualties, continual austerity for the poor.

    Of course they do.

    They just don’t care as their snouts are in the trough snorting to the rest of us to tighten our belts.

    The tories with labour are the enemy of the Scottish people.

    1. Mons Meg says:

      They realise that of course, Hamish. But the Blitz Spirit is a show of defiance and resilience in the face of such destruction and hardship. As the quintessence of Englishness, it requires adversity and existential threat against which it can manifest itself. Hence, the almost constant catastrophising of its celebrants.

      Flower-of-Scotland nationalism is another fine example of ‘the Blitz Spirit’.

      1. Niemand says:

        Indeed.

        The view of England from some Nationalists is like it is some living embodiment of an Hieronymus Bosch painting. Pretty sad and I suspect for many, a reason not to support independence rather than the opposite.

  12. Carl Potts says:

    Basically Blitz spirit is a handy synonym to reach for when the government has failed to plan or undertake even the most basic of Risk analysis ie they’ve been in competent (again)

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