If you wanted to sum up everything that’s wrong with the United Kingdom but had to do it in a three word phrase, you’d be spoiled for choice. There’s “Scottish democratic deficit”, “Nicholas Witchell reporting”, “Foreign Minister Johnson”, “Ant and Dec”, or “Simon Cowell’s X-Factor” just for starters. But there’s one phrase that perfectly sums up the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of Britain like no other, a phrase that encapsulates how Scotland and the rest of the UK aren’t merely different countries post-Brexit, but are increasingly on different planets separated by the vast airless gulf of the mainstream media, and that phrase is “Lord Nigel Farage”. It’s a phrase which on first being heard is immediately followed by another three word phrase, and that other phrase is, “What the fuck?” Said repeatedly while you bang your head futilely off the press that prints the Daily Mail.
The British government has refused to rule out the possibility that Nige might be granted a peerage for his services to British public life. That would be destroying our relationship with the European Union, hastening the end of the United Kingdom (OK, we’ll give him that one), causing – albeit indirectly – the Conservative party to morph into Ukip, and helping to spark off an outbreak of racist and homophobic attacks because the nutjobs of the extreme right now feel vindicated and empowered. Nigel has taken a state that was already characterised by a drift into right wing nastiness, and pushed it over the cliff of intolerance. We’re taking back control as Torukip spins and twists on our descent.
Nigel’s the grinning face of the new British populism, the millionaire public school stockbroker with the pint and the fag who says he’s standing up for the little guy. He represents the England that’s even smaller than the Little one. He’s standing up against the establishment by strengthening the powerful and empowering the strong. He’s protecting the weak by taking an axe to their support networks and shredding their safety nets. He’s blaming the problems of Britain on those who suffer most from them. He’s the village pond darling of the Alt Right, the frog prince of the neofascists.
The Ukip leader is a new way of voicing old prejudice, just like the Alt Right. Alt Right is the expression of ancient hatred in a digital format. Because it’s high tech it can express low sentiment and claim that it’s edgy and subversive while it seeks to bolster the old establishments. The worst possible crime is political correctness, because it’s offensive to offenders that they’re no longer allowed to offend.
Nige is the hero of the most oppressed people of all, those middle class right wing white men who’re upset that their privileges are no longer to remain unquestioned. Because to an oppressor equality feels like oppression. Nigel needs a reward for his services, because Nigel speaks for oppressed right wing middle class white men. Nigel needs a platform so he can speak with authority on BBC Question Time and influence our laws without having to trouble himself with getting rejected at the ballot box. Nigel needs a title other than the one he’s already got, the title of Buffoon in Chief for Little England and Shit Stirrer Extraordinaire. The Ukip ascendency, just like its Trumpist equivalent over the other side of the Atlantic, won’t challenge the establishment, won’t tear down the elite. It’s a creature of that very elite.
The continuing existence of the House of Lords is bad enough. It’s an insult to democracy, an excuse for legitimised patronage in a political system that likes to claim it’s above the sort of favouritism that marks the politics of lesser breeds. In Britain there’s no need for the secretive and undercover patronage that blights other countries, in Britain it’s institutionalised and dressed up in fancy costumes. There’s no hard evidence to suggest that Farage might be in line for a peerage, other than Theresa May’s refusal to answer a direct question on the topic, but the point is that we live in a state where a peerage for the likes of Farage is a distincy possibility. The anti-elitist warrior will be happy to pose in ermine and lord it over us, and even happier to draw expenses on the public account.
Britain was already a dysfunctional state with a dysfunctional political system. Nigel and Ukip made it worse. They took the good aspects of British society, its willingness to tolerate difference, its acceptance of diversity, and they said that the only things that saved Britain were sinking it. If Farage gets a peerage he’ll be Baron Farage of Dailymailshire, the Lord of the Whinge.
There are still those who argue for a better British state. The mirage of federalism floats in the democratic desert, as out of reach and unreal as it ever was. But it’s just a distraction. Any proposal that relies upon the Westminster Parliament to willingly surrender its power, any idea whose success depends upon limiting the absolute privilege of a British Prime Minister, is doomed to failure. They’re distractions from the real goal, last ditch attempts from a discredited system to save itself by offering pretty baubles that it will never allow us to have. There’s only one way to change things.
It’s clearer now that it ever was that Scotland is on a different path from the rest of the UK. We’re not better people than those in other parts of the UK, but we’ve poured our political energies into the dream of an inclusive and open minded Scotland, a tolerant Scotland, a diverse Scotland that engages with the world. And we’ve done that because we’ve sought to differentiate Scotland from a Britain that’s growing increasingly intolerant and insular. Britain can have Nicholas Witchell oozing sycophancy all over the telly whenever some minor royal waves at a pleb. Britain can have its Brexit. It can have its Lord Farage. It can have the Ukipisation of its politics. It can have its growing metropolitisation of the economy. But it can’t have the Union too. We’ve got three little words of our own “Scottish independence now”.
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There won’t be any new blog posts for a few days as I’m off to Skye tomorrow to do a talk for Yes Skye. If you’re in the area come along and meet the dug and me at the Sligachan Hotel in Sligachan, Skye on Saturday 19 November between 11am and 1pm.
Audio version of this blog, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-17th-nov-2016
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