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?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

28 thoughts on “A Hard Rain

  1. Another article right on the nose. Yesterday’s bizarre performance reminded me of a section in the autobiography of former Irish PM, Garret Fitzgerald, in which he was recounting his experiences in dealing with the British state in the negotiations before those leading to the Good Friday Agreement.

    Irish ministers and official would attend meetings only to discover that the British side had pulled back on previously agreed items or done a complete volte-face. With the deference of a former colony, the Irish at first thought this was a Machiavellian undermining strategy that had led to the creation of a huge empire.

    It then dawned on them that the British side weren’t talking to one another, didn’t have their eye on the ball, had no clear idea of what they wanted and were basically useless.

    They must have built up their empire by accident.

  2. One of the most depressing and truthful articles on this whole needless fiasco

  3. Great insightful explanation of the whole sorry catastrofuck that is Brexit. What amazes me though is the supposed high % of Scots who still think the “UK” is a good idea……….Mindboggling

  4. Well its hard to argue with your appraisal of the utter chaos thats going on around us just now , Its like watching a bunch of unruly children that have no adult supervision , and anything goes , each trying to do something to gain attention while destroying all around them .Just because they can .

    The only constant in this chaos is Nicola Sturgeon from day one she hasn’t deviated from her position despite being harangued and mostly ignored by Westminster , even to the point of Mrs Mayhem refusing to meet her as the first minister she instead pushed that snivelling artical Mundell forward as the go between , someone nearer her low rank in the pecking order , just to make a point , i am in charge and dont forget it

    Despite this tory government being the worst in living memory Labour are unable to land a blow , the knockout punch eludes them , maybe its because they are actually worse than the Tories and dont want to be holding the poison chalice when the music stops , the thin veil of competency might just slip , i defy anyone to present the labour position in a clear unambiguous way ,they like the other lot are all over the place .

    So far it has been a totally English brexit , isn’t it working out well ? , once terms are known call a referendum Nicola this time its not a matter of choice its imperative we leave , And let the English get on with it , the fact we are not involved in the decisions that will shape the future Scotland tells us enough is enough its not a union it is an occupation by a bigger nation that controls all media , & all information .

  5. “Because if this doesn’t do it, what will?” Judging by the enthusiasm with which the unionist press propaganda sheets fly off supermarket shelves, and the belief of so many that the BBC is the source of all truth, I am beginning to doubt if a majority will ever come to their senses and walk away from rUK either by referendum or declaration. Scotland certainly is not too wee nor too poor but for the moment seems to be too stupid to open the door.

    • If asked a couple of years ago would Scotland’s electorate by now be shifting significantly in favour of an ‘out’ from this evident UK shambles (and from the democratic irrelevance that is the majority in Scotland’s voting), I would have said surely ‘yes’.

      How matters have played out after IndyRef1 – post-Vow, Smith, Scotland Act; how Scotland voted in the EU Ref; how we got the Tories back in power in Westminster despite how we voted; how badly the Westminster policies on the economy and welfare are working out; and even threats to Holyrood’s powers – would in combination have been predicted to have more of an impact by now.

      So Clive, I agree: Scotland certainly is not too wee nor too poor but, yes, for the moment despite what appears to be the most negative circumstances, too many still seem unwilling to open the door to self-determination.

      What is the key? An electorate better informed of all sides of the case for change vs. no change? And if so, can this be achieved sufficiently, even with ramped-up grassroots activism, outside of a formal Indy campaign? Or is there a dam about to burst?

    • Some say the over 55’s are the problem. In 30 years time………..

  6. There are two equally frightening scenarios:
    1. The Tories know what they are doing
    2. The Tories don’t know what they are doing.

    My money is on 1.

    • It’s the first. A long term, calculated neutering of democracy to further strengthen the neoliberal establishment. It continually beggars belief that the ‘citizens’ are willing to be fooled.
      The visit at this time of Mariano Rajoy is telling. The Scottish Parliament will be denied the right to hold another independence referendum by whichever extremist occupies Downing St. The current assault on Ireland will be nothing to what is unleashed on us when we go for it.

  7. I feel sad and ashamed for all the decent people in England and Wales.

    Derek, I wish you would write more

  8. Worth waiting for Derek. I am scunnered wie it too!

  9. Ireland’s membership of the EU has completely altered the power balance in the British Isles, hasn’t it? England has not factored that into its grandiose thinking. Used to thinking of Ireland as a colonial dependency until 1922, thereafter it just forgot about Ireland all together. Something it could just ignore as a pimple.

    Ireland’s membership of the EU has finally brought about a historical corrective that has taken 1000 years to achieve, by linking itself firmly with Europe against the ‘might’ of England.

  10. There is complete political paralysis on both sides. Both Labour and the Tories are cowards lacking in vision, talent, and leadership. They are both putting party interest before the national interest as both fear losing their seats in divided constituencies. In such circumstances the only change can come from civil society and the media (any honest journalists with any integrity left) shifting public opinion. If public opinion shifts so too will political will.

  11. I can sense your incredulity Derek, at the assumed ineptitude of our Westminster overseers’. However, all may not be as it seems.

  12. There are the Tories in Scotland who want the UK no matter what, there are the hardline Unionist Labour OO types, and there are Scots who want it to miss them without doing anything.
    The SG protects Scotland and Scotland is doing better on all fronts (see Prof John Robertson’s articles on Talking-up Scotland covering the Joseph Rowentree Foundation report on Scotland) so Scots may not see what is coming.

  13. ‘Yes, little Ireland has more clout than the whole UK because it governs itself within the EU.’
    I’m proposing to my branch that we put this on campaigning material.
    (With your permission Mr. Bateman 🙂 )

  14. It is a hard rain. The Tory extremists like Rees Mogg are discovering how little power England (and I use that word deliberately) has and they don’t like it.

  15. Well said Derek.

    Not pretty is it and certainly not the most inspiring government of all time t’boot. Thing is, the whole arrogance, ignorance, condescension part of the equation was always there. It was merely clothed in a raggedy suit/perception of competence. There were intelligent movers and shakers who had some grasp of direction, diplomacy and craft. It didn’t make them any better human beings right enough. They were politicians of the ‘right sort’ after all. Went to the right schools. Came from the right families etc., etc.,

    They are who and what they have always been. The current crop have simply given up the pretence they were anything else and don’t have the intelligence to recognise why that pretence was ever necessary.

    It’s going to get worse, so brace yourselves, because it’s not anywhere near over yet.

  16. Tory supporters believe they project an Air of superiority and competence ,this veneer of we are superior and we know best . Scratch the surface and the truth begins to appear , their only ability is being able to speak with confidence , they have ” bullshit R us ” perfected , otherwise the use of other peoples money is second nature to them , all jolly good fun .

    This jolly fun is evident in the childish performance of their mps in parliament i dont believe these people take the place seriously , its all a jolly day out and a chance for a free drink .

    Their counterparts in Holyrood most are list MSPs so haven’t really been elected , are exactly the same without the free booze i doubt if Mr Fraser has ever actually won one election out of the 5 or possibly 6 he has contested . a whole carer built on nothing total failure , what is he for , whats his function.

    Do we need the tory party ? well honestly if they disappeared tomorrow i doubt if they would be missed , the chaos and disruption this one party cause while they are in power takes years to rectify .

  17. “Scotland why don’t we govern ourselves within the EU?’.

    It does seem a pretty good slogan, and provides the continued assurance of commodities standards, food standards, freedom of movement.

  18. Fear can paralyse folk, and at the moment a lot of people in Scotland are frozen with fright at the unfolding Brexit nightmare. If, however, some of the erstwhile “fearties”, realising that paralysis won’t save them, suddenly break for the lifeboats, their action will tend to unfreeze others, who then join them in a sudden rush. Nil desperandum.

  19. Pretty significant point made in this post over on Wings. Worth reading.


  20. Whilst we have just noted that Finland is celebrating 100 years of independence, not long after Norway celbrated the dissolution of its union with Sweden, it’s clear that Scots just don’t have the guts. Independence is earned, and Scots are not sufficiently interested. Therefore they don’t deserve it.
    It is not the country that is too poor, or too wee, it is the people.

  21. “It’s that Corbyn is a committed anti-Brexiteer who can’t wait for the day the UK leaves the EU.”
    Think that old software of yours is acting up again. But with a choice of a Tory/UKIP Brexit or a Corbyn Brexit there are a lot of people in the rest of the UK who envy Scotland and our chance of escape.

    • and “No, I’m not on any conceivable back (or front-) hander for this piece of advertising..”

      PS Avril Stewart (who you may recall as an ex-BBC colleague) is always singing your praises… (with which I heartily concur..)

Leave a Reply