A Spoonful of Blood
I don’t want to repeat the bile spewed from the mouth of the rogue PM, following his unrepentant return to Parliament after the unlawful proroguing. We all heard it. It’s not the first time we’ve heard it, and it seems that every utterance from the pick of Westminster’s most depraved and privileged, has the potential to re-enforce their message outside of their bubble. Jo Cox and others heard it before being brutally murdered.
The UK is sick. Very sick. It is suffering from an epidemic of self-delusion, British (essentially English) Nationalism, and intolerance. An infestation of, once insidious, now rapidly developing overt hatred for the “other.” It’s coming to a hospital or Wetherspoons where you are. It has not permeated throughout. Not yet. But like a spoonful of blood, a little goes a very long way, and creates an indelible stain.
What does the clamour for a No Deal Brexit signify? It sounds like a crazy thing. The UK government’s own Yellowhammer report identifies a catalogue of disasters, that can only impact on the most vulnerable. For some it seems to embody the ultimate Taking Back Control, no matter that it may actually be life threatening to those in need of regular meds and other services
For others, like Johnson, it’s a game of snakes and ladders for the most ambitious and cynical. Johnson is wallowing in the do or die lie of negotiating and delivering a timely Brexit deal while, ironically, he is actually whipping up the clamour for the intangible holy grail of the No Deal. Classic doublespeak. For him, it means that he’s reached the apex of power and ambition. But like the other, once ridiculed “strong men” vying for “king of the world status”, it’s a dishonest and deliberate attempt to distance themselves from the “elite”, to which they clearly belong.
Cut the head off one monster, as they did from the gargoyle PM May, and another one will snake out from the spine. Johnson is a creature of our increasingly dysfunctional times, and let’s not forget that Farage is waiting to strike again. With the demise of the Ruth Davidson Party, we now see that Scottish Tory interim Leader Jackson Carlaw has joined the Doublespeak club. They seem to breed.
How did we get to this treacherous landing stage? We can trace the landscape and evolution of austerity and scapegoating at any point along the way from Thatcherism via the 2008 crash, and a tortuous route beyond. However the actual methods are more insidious and less incidental. The signs were all there even before the rot hit the surface in the political expression of Brexit.
The UK has been led sleepwalking through an anaesthetizing haze of nostalgia and theatre. The Great British everything, from cakes, to trains, canals and so on is a clue. Johnson puts the official seal on it with his Brexit focused “War Cabinet.” The empire fighting back, with a tame media colluding to provide the biggest scam since PPI.
The UK has been subject to the creation of a cosy virtual air raid shelter. The type that didn’t exist. The type without the sheer terror of imminent death and destruction of everything and everyone you hold dear. It comes complete with a new set of trendy royals. Real people like us, who claim to change nappies and deplore climate change and environmental erosion, while still enjoying the grouse moors. It appeals to those who never experienced it first time around.
Nostalgia may not always be what it used to be during the war, but the 80’s get an unofficial look in. Good old Thatcherites like Ken Clark invoke a hazy eyed nostalgia. My enemy’s enemy is a powerful antidote to the worst excesses of the new kids on the block. “I’m not a Tory but…” Ken Clark, John Major. Michael Heseltine! The telly has a lot to answer for if you enjoyed or even pitied Anne Widecombe on Strictly.
Nostalgia is comforting. It does not discriminate between Leavers or Remainers, nor, courtesy of National TV and media, Yes or No supporters in the question of Scottish independence. It can anaesthetise like no other drug. While some of us dip in from time to time, a section of the population has become gorged and glazed on Christmas dinner proportions of Dad’s Army and Bisto Ads.
And so, while we Keep Calm and Carry On, it seems that the collapse of Thomas Cook has become reported as the greatest repatriation of British citizens since world war 2, while the loss of 20,000 jobs is a secondary consideration. It has come to this.
We may be expecting self-imposed food shortages, but many will be disappointed to find that the community war time spirit will not arrive with Brexit. It will be no picnic of healthy rationed goods. Still, I hesitate to state the obvious and say that we are not actually at war, when, in truth, the government has, in effect, declared war on the population.
It may be war by proxy against EU citizens, refugees from real wars, the non-white population and the poor, but war all the same. Some “Take back Controllers” will step up to the plate and let loose the full force of racism, while others will become victim of austerity to our not-so-caring welfare system. We are not all in it together.
We have our demons in Scotland too, and we are not inherently immune from racism, sectarianism and prejudice. We recognise the repugnance of Blood and Soil Scottish Nationalism, and we have our fair share of Tories. It would be foolish to assume that the dominant spirit of inclusivity and engagement of the Independence Campaign will maintain itself in the war of attrition by the powerful and elite, and by the increasingly emboldened far right. We have to work at that.
The Scottish Tories are a problem. Despite their initial Pro-Remain stance, and the Remain status of Scotland, the bald opportunism of Jackson Carlaw, and his U-turn towards support for Johnson, will appeal to many in the fishing communities, and a large section of the not insubstantial Leave vote in Scotland. Carlaw will no doubt welcome Johnson’s self-declaration as Minster for The Union, and be strengthened by it. We should expect to see a further avalanche of Union jacks on our products and our consciousness. This is not a courtship, but an attempt to bring us around to our rightful place in the Union.
We need to shake ourselves awake on a regular basis to remember that we really do have choice about our place in the UK. We are constantly told, almost to the point of belief, that voter fatigue will stand in the way of further interest in a 2nd independence referendum, and that there is no appetite for one. This seems to contrast wildly with the fear expressed several weeks ago by Tory politicians and commentators, that the integrity of the UK is in danger. We seem to have stumbled beyond this somehow, as the focus is yet again on the weary, who just “want Brexit done”.
As Johnson’s Brexit, or die-in-a-ditch deadline arrives, it’s also important to welcome the Autumn as a time of beauty and calm transition. Out there in the real world, babies are still being born to hopeful parents. Freshers are taking their place in institutions of learning and enlightenment. We can’t go to sleep now. In truth, it can feel that we’re on a trajectory to hell, fired and funded by Cummings, Bannon and all the other torchbearers of chaos on the planet, and there’s no way we can be truly calm. We have to carry on though.
We need resistance. The Left is not in great shape, to put it mildly, and beneath the layers of destruction and confusion there is resistance in the form of Trade unions, grassroots organisations and anti-fascist groups. But we can’t sleepwalk through this. It won’t go away. For those who don’t choose to engage politically, and it’s a choice, the least we can do is vote when we get the opportunities, and that opportunity is coming soon.