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Red September

September is the party conference season in our sceptre isle, something which should not bother normal people most years.  This year, however, there are sinister political currents flowing.   We should be wary of this autumn’s neap tides.  Because for ordinary Britons everywhere they may become an inundation.

There are three political parties, three conferences.

Vince Cable

The Liberal Party Conference, which doesn’t really count because they are represented by twelve Members of Parliament and led by amiable geriatric, Vincent Cable.  It was last week, so you missed it, but don’t worry, so did everyone else.

This week, though – this week is the conference for the Labour Party, represented by 257 Members of Parliament.

Theresa May and Jeremy

‘Tis said among those whose delight is argument that the quickest way to lose your point is to bring Hitler into the conversation.  So I’m going to lose mine straight away, because to me, at least, this year’s Labour Party Conference resembles nothing so much as a 1930s rally of the Third Reich.  Leader of the party and aspiring Fuhrer is  Jeremy Corbyn; rather middle class-looking, much the sort of figure you would expect to tick you off for stepping on his flowerbeds, but do not be deceived.  He is a class A zealot who yearns to plant his red socialist standard in the Prime Minister’s parking space.

Corbyn sailed to power in his party on a tidal wave of idealistic students and far-left socialists who he encouraged to become party members so they could vote for him.  He charged them a special cheap membership fee of £3 a head.  This group persists and burgeons beneath the banner of ‘Momentum’, driving out more moderate members of their party.  I like to think of them as ‘The Momentum Youth’.

In its time the British Labour Party has had many different manifestations – this is one of the least pleasant.  Far from the centrist politics of their last Prime Minister, Tony Blair (think WMD), Corbyn’s affinities are unashamedly with the Trades Unions.  His declared intention to nationalise everything that moves is a transparent attempt to restore the Union despotism of the 1970s which brought his country to its knees.

The problem seems to be a reluctance to learn:  nobody, par exemple, who experienced the nationalised railways the first time around would want to see those dirty untended carriages or suffer those relentless strikes again.  No-one would want to buy from manufacturers ruled by their union conveners whose power could halt production lines at any time.  Yet it just might happen:  Corbyn might snatch power in a General Election soon, not because of his popularity as a potential Prime Minister but because of the inadequacy of the present one.

Next week will feature the Conservative Party Conference.  A genial bunfight in normal years, sometimes this can throw up great boiling geysers of schism and outrage, and this is potentially just such a year. The cause of such foment?

That damnable Brexit chappy!

Everybody knows a national referendum clearly showed a majority of the British people wanted to leave the European Union.  To some, however, that democratic defeat was like the proverbial red rag to a bull.  They have been trying, by fair means sometimes but mostly foul, to scare the socks off the general populace with horror stories and selective use of terms like ‘falling off the cliff’ and ‘crashing out’.  They have produced barrel-loads of ropey statistics and dubious long-term prognostications, while accusing those in favour of the decision of ‘populism’ (which is apparently some kind of offence, unlike Machiavellianism, their stock-in-trade).

So far, these tactics have been so transparently redolent of self-interest they have only succeeded in hardening attitudes in the country at large, but they prosper in the belly of the Conservative Party.  To Prime Minister Theresa May has fallen the odious task of reaching a ‘negotiated settlement’ with the disdainful bureaucrats of Brussels.  Her inability to come up with a recipe that is satisfactory to everybody has proved her undoing, and she is nobody’s favourite at the moment, espoused by neither the gun-toting-bring-back-the-navy-and-blockade-the-English-Channel ‘hard Brexiteers’, nor the hand-wringing ‘Remoaners’ who don’t want us to leave the EU at all.

The Conservatives at Conference have a recipe for crises such as these.  They deny any possibility of a ‘split’, they swear fealty to their Glorious Leader, and they stand in rapturous applause for the stirring words of her rallying call, while those whose work it is are eyeing her back for the exact position to deliver the knife-thrust.  Meanwhile, in a well-attended fringe meeting, her successor in title makes his pitch…

Conference Season in the UK is not always so entertaining, or disturbing, as the closing weeks of this September promise to be.   There is a real risk that the established political parties will be rent asunder by internal strife, delivering the UK back into the clutches of the Federal Republic of Europe against common consent.  If that happens there will certainly be hell to pay, and possibly even revolution.

In a parallel universe, Jeremy Corbyn may grasp the reins, plunging the country into a dark neo-communist age.  That would be a real ‘crash out’.  On balance, I think not.  The Momentum movement seems unable to shake off the taint of anti-Semitism, and in this country no-one likes racial prejudice.

Perhaps, after all, it is a matter of a few ripples in the lapsang souchong and there are halcyon days ahead.  Perhaps it is time for revolution, because none of the principal political parties represent the people anymore.  At my age, why should I care?  I can sit back and watch, popping my pills and drawing my pension as the political world passes by, and nothing is likely to cause me direct harm from all this, is it?  Yet somehow I do care.  Could that be because I have seen it all before, and what distresses me is our tragic inability to learn?

A Momentous Year

harpy-imagesA coke and a smile and it’s already 6th of January, most New Year’s resolutions are well on their way to being broken and a whole new seedbed of freshly sprouting tragedies are preparing to break the soil of 2017.    So, will this year be better than last?

No.

At least, not in the eyes of the media harpies who sit on the branches  of the ‘London Bubble’, glaring balefully at me through the window of my northern turret.   Now these are interesting birds:  for they are gifted in their description of impending misery.  The instant I venture to share their wavelength they bombard me with carefully measured doses of doom, interspersed with worthy advice concerning avoidance measures.

Brexit, they persist in wailing, will be a disaster as yet beyond human experience, one we cannot possibly calculate in terms of the millions who will starve, the race riots that will injure us and loot our properties, or the unmitigated fury of the spurned bankers, who will all leave for France.   Have we not already been swept up in a tide of hyper-inflation, with savage price rises, critical supply shortages and assaults by irritable German Federalists?

Well again, no.

In fact, virtually every prediction for Armageddon has so far proved false, apart from the one concerning the lowered value of our dear old dusty English Pound, which, as it turns out, is a boon to industry, because at 2.2 percent the British growth rate for the past year is the highest in the western world.   Meanwhile, across the Channel, the European economies are either languishing or in trouble, one way or another.  The euro is showing all the early signs of terminal disease.

Without indulging in lengthy (and very boring) discussion of comparative ills, the political right is hauling itself up several electoral ladders, notably in the big European players – France, Italy, and possibly even Germany, with electoral processes due to chart their success this year.  Right-wing political thinking is broadly anti-EU, but political science is a lot like theology: a subject with no substance in itself which is guided and reinterpreted by those who administer it.  Where it exists it is upon an ideal or a myth, and the problem for the ministry of a fashionable creed is their vulnerability to being swept aside when events disprove their ineffable vision.  There is no in between:   saints or heretics; the Vox Populae judges only by results.

Britain’s greatest enemy in the execution of Brexit lies within itself.  Pandering to instinctive British obsequiousness, and unconvinced of its negotiating power or the cards it holds, the government seems to be falling over itself in attempts to ‘achieve the best deal’, regardless of its record in that department when David Cameron was lashed to the helm, and without any acknowledgement to the bigger world that waits to trade and interrelate.

Hot news!   You cannot ‘negotiate’ with zealots.  They don’t listen.  Whether Federalist or Islamist they are convinced of their cause in the face of all reason, and their pursuit of it will be relentless.   The only way for the European ideal to break down is the way it must, whether in months or years: by collapse from within.

Complications, EU rules and agreements founded upon them, are really a distraction from what will be UKs final recourse, just to walk away and close the door.   The vast amount of money, and work for the Civil Service, though, that will be expended in reaching that conclusion, is not for the EU.  It is to gratify powerful influences within UK.

Make no mistake, the greatest obstacle to a smooth and effective severance is rampant self-interest.   I can understand it, in a way.  In the long term, as everyone knows, the Carney Bank of England interest rate, which has lingered at fractions of a percent for some years now, must rise.  In most of the country such changes are manageable, but if you live in a two-bedroom flat in London which cost your lenders the north side of £600K a half percent rise is tantamount to ruin, especially if the property starts to devalue as well…

On a personal level, this is the year (so my harpies, in concert with the British Brainwashing Corporation tell me) I am sure to contract a significant disease – diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, Ebola, terminal flu.   All will be well, if I could only bring myself to take the wisest course the moment I experience early symptoms and consult my medical practitioner.  Okay, although due to the medical staff’s extensive holiday commitments the waiting list for appointments with my local General Practitioners’ exceeds one month.  By which time, of course, I will have expired.

Meaning, I suppose, I need not be too concerned that a piece one-quarter the size of Wales is about to break away from the Antarctic ice pack, or that due to billions of gallons of extra melt water filling up the oceans, the world is getting too fat in the middle and wobbling on its axis a bit.   This is no surprise to me.  Ever since acquiring extra weight in middle age my pirouettes are definitely more erratic.  A lesson for us all.

It will not be a bad year, 2017.   Whether we like or loathe Donald and his rug, the system will blunt his excesses I am sure, and all though the treatment may be painful, it will be beneficial, by and large, in the end.  If one thing, and one thing alone, could make 2017 a very good year it would be to see peace break out in Syria.  Those poor people have been bombed and shot at for too many years, and for once I find myself applauding Russia for its logical approach.  I hope that, at least, succeeds.

Happy New Year, everyone.

No – NO!   Put that drink down.  You promised!  God is watching!

UKIP – RIP?

diane-james

The resignation of Diane James from leadership of the UK Independence Party, whilst perhaps not entirely surprising, is unfortunate.   Her reign of only 18 days must be something of a record for a political leader of any party, indicative perhaps of the struggles that seethe beneath the surface of UKIP’s emergent force.

I raise my tiny voice in concern because UKIP is important.  In a political Britain infected by the soporific sluggishness of the European Union it is a vital force for dynamic change – the change is happening, despite the doleful voices of the London Bubble – and the ability of Government to reflect that change at Westminster must keep pace.    The pace will be fast.

Theresa May’s approach to ‘Brexit’  (am I the only one becoming tired of that word?) is refreshingly bullish.  Her refusal to respond to the sententious attitude of Brussels that clearly casts the UK as a naughty schoolchild is gratifying and assures me for the present, at least, that the Article 50 negotiations are in good hands – for now.

jeremy-corbynAt home, though, the auguries are less clear.   Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the opposition has redefined the Labour Party as an extreme left-wing socialist group unlikely to interest the greater part of the UK population.   Corbyn’s cabal is clearly determined to de-select unsympathetic centre-left MPs in favour of a more neo-Marxist trades union dominated parliamentary party, thus undoing what was possibly Tony Blair’s only beneficial contribution to Labour politics.   As a party Labour was unelectable before Blair came, and it is bent upon becoming unelectable once more.

The great majority of the British public do not want a rampantly socialist government.   It never will. Yet a credible opposition is needed, otherwise Theresa May’s Conservatives have carte blanche.   Effectively unopposed within the chamber of government  they can behave pretty much as they want, and the temptation to offer sops to more extreme right-wing factions within their party will be great.  At this moment the only opposition in play is provided by the Scottish Nationalists, a scattering of Irish MPs, and the doughty rear guard of a failed Liberal Party that was so misguidedly digested by coalition in the last Conservative period of office.

Who better, therefore, to occupy this newly created space?   UKIP mobilised the British population behind a cause and brought them out to vote as never before.  It presented a simple message to the voters that found sympathy – it had an ear to the real drift of public opinion and gave them a voice.   That initial dynamism focussed upon one issue and around one man; Nigel Farage.  And therein, maybe, lies the problem.farage

Not the only problem.   The massive task of gaining enough candidates to contest every seat at the last General Election rushed UKIP into assembly of a rag-bag of politically ambitious figures all interested in becoming MPs and glad to sign up for the first opportunity.  The only issue they had in common, however, was ‘Brexit’ and many had different visions of that.  Now that the figurehead of their party has stepped down those differing visions can have free play, and instead of grasping a golden opportunity their executive are squabbling amongst themselves.  Between now and Theresa May’s declared date for the next General election (2020) they have the chance to supplant Labour as the major opposition party.    The Liberals certainly won’t do it, and the Nationalist parties have their own agendas.

The UKIP aims as stated in their orchestrated campaign to take Britain out of Europe spoke to the Labour voter.   A sleeping giant was wakened, addressed in a language it could understand, and provided with the sort of common sense British politics has lacked for generations.  As a result the giant voted, and will vote again, for those same common sense arguments in a manifesto for the future of the Britain we have now.   The only problem is the lack of a Farage to lead them.  (Figurehead needed: please apply)

Believe it or not, I am not a convinced UKIP voter now, although I voted resoundingly for leaving the EU and I’m proud to see my country’s innovative and positive reaction to the referendum result.  I love to see the establishment confounded and I have always believed the European Federalist dream was just that:  a very expensive dream.   I might vote for a future UKIP;  I certainly will not vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s version of Labour.    I think there are many like me.

What do you think?