A Hard Rain

It’s raining questions these days. Hardly a day goes by without a deluge of imponderables without answers. You yearn for the stability of safe, plodding government and the certainty only a Conservative Government can provide.

Oops. Sorry – that phrase came from the now obsolete 1980’s Tory journalism software I can’t quite clear out of the Mac.

I think it’s the same defunct system Theresa May was using when she marketed herself as strong and stable and the Express hailed her as the new Iron Lady, surveying Europe imperiously from the cliffs of Dover. But then that was positively months ago…

One of the questions is: How can a government of intelligent people crumble into babbling incompetence with such alacrity? Misjudgement followed by miscalculation piled on misunderstanding, all edged with imperial condescension and xenophobia. Today a new/old strand of anti-Irish bigotry re-emerges reminding us again of how only an Englishman (of a certain type) is the true bloodline of greatness. Once the patronising fails them, they remind us we are but the Celts, the Picts and the Shovels – the navvies and skivvies to our betters. The failure to consider the implications of Brexit on Ireland was dereliction of duty to friends and neighbours (and family) but to hear it now compounded by ill-disguised contempt for ‘little Ireland’ daring to get in the way, is inexcusable.

You may notice a trend among the debris of chaos. May’s mentors and confidants are hard-right Brexiteers who have persuaded her (a declared Remainer, remember) that Brexit must be total – no free movement, no single Market or Customs Union, no ECJ. That is just as insane as the original decision to hold a referendum at all. For which we have to thank the now invisible poltroon David Cameron who worried he would be remembered as the man who lost Scotland but will now instead be the man who delivered national catastrophe.

She could have won both the Commons and the country, not to mention the EU itself, with a Norway deal, staying in the market, accepting the rules and paying an annual sub. But the UK would have left the Union and the referendum result would be satisfied. If not the nutters. So this is her Brexit. Her mess.

This of course is the agenda of UKIP whose racial hatred turned dispossessed voters into anti EU adherents. May is doing as Farage does. Brexit is a right wing obsession which is why May is comfortable in the company of the DUP. The trend continues when you check her itinerary. Visits to Trump to eat out of the extremist’s hand, getting-to-know-you visits to Erdogan in Turkey and the House of Saud while Liam Fox lauds shared values with Rodrigo Duterte in the Philipines who throws critics out of helicopters. Her new bestest friend arrived in London this week – falangist Prime Minister Rajoy of Spain, the new pariah of Europe.

At any other time this rogues’ gallery of thugs would raise comment but Brexit has consumed all. Well not quite – her deputy still has time to watch porn in the office.

To observers of statecraft this week’s Whitehall farce of now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t Brexit deal is the depths of incompetence. It is barely believable that with so much at stake the machinery of the state was unable to keep both Brussels and Belfast on message and engaged. You really do have to ask: Do these people know what they’re doing?

And where, when the country is embarked on an historic international mission is the Foreign Secretary? He has achieved the remarkable feat of being absent at a moment of vital national interest. Can you imagine his hero, Churchill behaving thus?

Mention of the war hero brings us to Colonel Davidson of the Scottish Conservative Light Infantry. I thought for a few days she had gone missing in action. She certainly has adopted the Gordon Brown Cowardly Scot routine when the going gets tough. She has just emerged trying to distance herself from the PM by asking for a soft Brexit in which the entire UK is treated equally. In other words, no deal for Northern Ireland. The trouble here is that the UK is no longer in a position to demand any such thing when Ireland brings to bear its heavy artillery – the rest of the EU nations. Ireland cannot be undone by British demands so long as the Brussels membership holds firm. Britain cannot win. For Scots, the clear message is that from now on Ireland is more powerful than Britain. Yes, little Ireland has more clout than the whole UK because it governs itself within the EU.

The revealing part of Davidson’s move is that it puts the UK – that is the flag issue – above the pragmatic and the political issues. Retaining the UK as one indivisible unit despite the nuanced requirements of Dublin and Belfast is stonewalling and attempting to stop the stream of history which is now running pell mell in favour of diversity and subsidiarity. Yet again, faced with a decision requiring intelligence, the Scottish Tories hoist the No Surrender Red Hand of defiance, displaying their terror of the precedent an alternative might set for Scotland. To hell with national interest. The decaying, moribund Union must come first. This though is just the latest in her many contortions over this issue. You will recall her bullish challenges to Boris Johnson on television as she performed her media tricks and made her name as the ultimate Remainer. Only to reach for the handbrake after the vote and demand the best Brexit deal. Her minimum requirement was the Single Market. Then it wasn’t. If she were a real Colonel her troops would be simultaneously going over the top and running into the rest who were in full retreat. Her gift is the ability to bark and bluster to generate heat and noise but to creep quietly away from the gunfire and, if captured, to avoid detailed interrogation.

Thank goodness then that Labour is on the ball offering sensible solutions. (Damn that old software)

Did ever an Opposition implode so totally as bewildered old Jeremy? Whenever the government is cornered, his nerve fails him and he diverts to another issue. Oh sure, he decries their failures but where’s the alternative policy? Do you know what his policy is? I hear Keir Starmer come out with reasoned arguments which hint at compromise on membership while vying to keep on board northern Leave voters but does Jeremy agree?

Isn’t it past time that any sane Opposition said enough is enough…this must stop? Is there any more evidence needed to confirm the madness of leaving the EU? It’s clear to everyone else that this isn’t going to work, that people have been conned, the government is cack-handed. But still Corbyn evades and denies. There is of course an explanation, one that thousands of new converts, and especially the young and optimistic, can’t confront. It’s that Corbyn is a committed anti-Brexiteer who can’t wait for the day the UK leaves the EU. In his head that means the neo liberal rules on competition and state support will be lifted and governments will be free to interfere in ways they used in the sixties when his beliefs were formed. This displays his ignorance of the reality of EU rules on the one hand and his delusional world view on the other. It’s as if consumer rights and food standards and drug regulation and airline networks had never existed. And what it misses is that every few years we change government and as a rule we have more right wing than left wing governments – that’s why the hard right want Brexit. They too want an end to expensive food standards, employment rights and environmental requirements and guidelines, so a libertarian free-for-all can replace the regulation.

This was Corbyn the day after the Brexit vote: The British people have made their decision. We must respect that result and Article 50 has to be invoked now so that we negotiate an exit from European Union.

He couldn’t wait to get started on getting us out of Europe. He didn’t campaign to stay in but was afraid to campaign to come out. He seems to believe working people will benefit but provides no ammunition in support. Jeremy is as much a Brexiteer as David Davis and is the same game of pretending it will all be fine afterwards. History will not be kind to the Opposition that failed to oppose.

My last question is: When will we collectively wake up? At what point will the Tories be pushed out or give up? Will Labour MPs rebel and resist? Will Davis come back finally and say it can’t be done? Or will enough Scots be repelled by the gory scene and turn away to seek our own national redemption? Because if this doesn’t do it, what will?

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