This is a coup…
It’s democracy in action. Or is it ‘electoral engineering’? A nifty piece of political footwork that lets the right-wing of the Conservative Party take control of the country, allied with their (repeatedly) electorally defeated, but handy rabble-rousing UKIP wide-boys (arms length distance if they cross the line, you see). As simple as that — confirmed the minute Johnson binned his pro-Europe past (never mind his pro-Turkish accession lobbying).
Let the more extreme elements stoke up the plebs, aided by sensationalist newspaper headlines, goaded by public service cuts, unemployment and systematic undermining of the welfare state. Chuck in some ugly anti-foreigner , anti-refugee sentiment, sprinkled with religious bigotry, some Royal celebrations and flag waving — Bob’s your uncle. Fast track to Number 10 and the removal of all those annoying workers’ rights, health and safety, financial regulation, and equal opportunities legislation. An island state, ‘offshoring’ profits onshore (who needs the British Virgin Islands, when you’ve got the ‘British Isles’?) and ready to sell its ground-water to the frackers, its infrastructure to the Chinese State and its bombs to a wide range of despots. A deal’s a deal, and that’s all that matters.
Whilst the usual suspects of the British press have been doing their utmost with sensationalist headlines and dubious allegations about ‘immigrants’ (of course, British living abroad are known by the more friendly sounding “ex-pats”, and little is made of their ‘stealing jobs’ and ‘swamping’ schools and health services), the role of the BBC deserves some considerable scrutiny. For years now it has been providing UKIP with regular appearances on political shows such as Question Time, in complete disproportion to the level of their vote and elected representation, but with high ‘entertainment value’, a strategy that has no doubt contributed to the normalisation of their essentially racist discourse amongst some sections of society.
We’re living now in the opening chapters of a dystopian novel, filled with teasers and “little did they know then…” type incidents. If it were fiction, though, any decent publishing house would have spurned the crude, psuedo-Dickensian characters (Gove, Johnson, Farage, Duncan-Smith) and the twisted plot of bombing countries who bought our weapons, whilst simultaneously condemning those fleeing for their lives as economic migrants, spongers and terrorists.
The right is in full austerity mode: slash and burn, cut and sell off; whilst the ‘left’ (or parts thereof) think this’ll be an excellent opportunity to poke ‘the establishment’ in the eye: Here’s one for what you did to the Greeks — See! We’re going to vote for an even more neo-liberal future than the one you offered, just to show you we’ve had enough of your elected Parliament, councils nominated by sovereign state governments, freedom of movement, human rights and environmental protection.
This is not the time for anyone who feels remotely progressive to hand victory on a plate to the Faragists. It’s not scaremongering to try to imagine what June 24th will feel like when those people are in the ascendant, wiping Cameron — and Corbyn — from the playlist, and heaping the notions of common good; public service; tolerance; social, economic and environmental justice onto the bonfire. The goal of a better life stalled with the Conservative government, it’ll go into full reverse with the Johnson-Goves.