It’s getting insane now. Even those of us who specialise in hyperbole are running out of hyperbolic adjectives and similes to describe just how divorced from the real world British politics and the British state have become.
I’ve given up watching the Labour party conference. It seemed to be being beamed to us directly from an alternate universe in which Labour won the general election and Jeremy Corbyn single-handedly cured cancer. It’s a world in which delegates are gushing over the transformative powers of a socialism that Labour has rediscovered after years of treating it like an embarrassing old relative who had been packed off to a retirement home and never visited, but they’re studiously avoiding the fact that the retirement home is about to be bulldozed. It’s a world in which Jeremy Corbyn is treated with the reverence usually reserved for the other JC, but everyone denies it’s a personality cult.
In the collective deranged mind of the Labour party, the fact that people wear T-shirts with his image, chant his name, and praise him constantly, but it’s not a personality cult must be one of the miracles that Jeremy is responsible for with his superhuman powers. But then they’re also not nationalists, despite being in favour of the maintenance of the British state, vehemently opposed to another Scottish referendum, and Jezza supporting the hardest of Brexits, all of which are quintissentially British nationalist projects. That must be another of those miracles.
All the Labour new-found socialism in the world is going to do bugger all to help the poor, the marginalised, the weak, the oppressed, and the struggling worker after the Tories achieve their dream of a hard Brexit and a bonfire of social protection. Sure, it’s great to talk about all the fantastic new swings, chutes, and roundabouts that we can have in our public playground, but it’s bugger all use planning them when the priority is to resist the Tories who’re hell bent on selling off the playground to a global corporation and then charging us for walking by it. The priority needs to be to resist the Tory Brexit, but Labour doesn’t want to talk about that, because Saint Jeremy believes in a hard Brexit as much as Liam Fox and David Davis do. But the membership believes that at the last minute Saint Jeremy will perform a miracle, and save us all.
The party marches on to the precipice, waving the red banners that they’ve rescued from the attic and chanting Jeremy’s name. It’s every bit as much the politics of nostalgia as the Tory determination to take us back to the Empire loyalism of the 1950s.
What’s so upsetting about the Labour party conference is that it’s a microcosm of the country as a whole. The UK is in a collective state of denial, one which is fully shared by Scotland’s No voters. We don’t want another referendum, they say, because that means that they’ll have to face up to reality. The reality is that Scotland was lied to by the British state, it was taken advantage of, and its people were taken for granted and taken for fools. No one likes to admit that they were conned. We were conned by Better Together and all its fine promises of a Scotland that was an equal partner in a family of nations. We were conned by Brexiteers who promised a bright future outside the EU. And now the reality is dawning, a reality of a Scotland in which the devolution settlement is trashed, and an isolationist and xenophobic Britain in which big business runs riot and tramples democratic and human rights.
It’s only natural that people don’t want to think about it. It’s not happened yet for all that it’s coming down the line. We’re like tenants who are facing eviction from our home and who ignore the brown window envelopes that pile up behind the door warning of financial ruin. It hasn’t happened yet, and if it hasn’t happened yet then it might not happen at all. Don’t mention it. Don’t talk about it. Go away and leave us to our dreams of Corbynism or a glorious Tory Brexit in which everything comes right in the end. It’s more comforting to blame those who try and stop destructive behaviour than it is to blame the destructive behaviour itself.
Back in the real world, we’re facing the biggest threat to our civil liberties and employment rights in decades. It’s not just that the Tories are using Brexit as an excuse to trash the devolution settlement, that would be bad enough, but they’re also using it to neuter the power of the House of Commons to hold the government of the day to account. The priority for any party which seeks to further the interests of the have-nots, or the 99%, or ordinary working people, instead of the rich, the bosses, and the banks, must be to resist the Tory march toward Brexit, to find common cause with the Lib Dems, the SNP, and Plaid and Tory remainers and prevent the country being held hostage by the wild-eyed fantasies of ideological Brexiteers. But Labour won’t do that, because its leaders are also wild-eyed fantasists and ideological Brexiteers.
It’s frankly ludicrous that a party which claims to be building a mass movement, which says that its goal is to empower ordinary people, refuses those ordinary members a say on shaping the party’s policy on the biggest question facing the country. It’s the politics of denial. The hundreds of thousands of young people and remain supports who voted Labour in the General Election because they thought that the party might save us from the Brexit cliff are in for a big disappointment. Fudging the issue got the party through the General Election. It’s not going to get Labour through this parliamentary session. The tragedy is that the Conservatives have never been weaker or more divided, but Labour can’t or won’t press its advantage because it too wants to have its cake and eat it. It’s the inability of both the major British parties to face up to the realities of Brexit which will lead to the undoing and unravelling of the entire British state.
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
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