In the Bleakest of Mid-Winters
‘Try and stay positive…because things are set to get a lot worse in 2017’ suggests Steve Beauchampé
There was a moment back in late 2015 when UK politics might have moved leftwards, rebalancing decades of neo-liberal, monetarist economics with an anti-privatisation, pro-public services philosophy, one where the haves had a little less and the have nots had a little hope.
Well, so much for that glimpse of a more equitable, more caring society. Jeremy Corbyn, the man whose unexpected election as leader of the Labour Party raised such hopes, remains in situ, still surviving relentless attacks from both within his own party and from most sections of the media for daring to embrace Socialism, still closer than most of his political rivals to the right answers to many of society’s problems.
Yet in early 2017 political discourse, both in the UK, the USA and seemingly much of Europe, is in a very different place
Without doubt, the UK’s vote to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump as next President of the United States of America, has resulted in a sudden, violent lurch to the political right, where ugly forms of nationalism, economic protectionism and cultural insularity are now the dominant themes shaping western politics.
In Britain we have a government dominated by politicians of the hard right, led by an unashamedly opportunistic Prime Minister who, putting her own future political prospects front and centre, took almost no publicly identifiable part in the EU referendum debate, but who now speaks only in childish riddles about its consequences, whilst trying to rule like a medieval monarch, denying parliament any meaningful input on the matter.
Despite the regular slew of confused and conflicting messages from May’s ministers regarding the UK’s EU exit strategy it has been clear since her speech to the Conservative Party conference last October that Theresa May is prepared to sacrifice access to both the single market and the Customs Union in order to substantially curtail immigration.
And woe betide her if she attempts any other approach. For May is a hostage to an emboldened political right and its media cheerleaders
These include the Daily Mail, the Sun and Daily Express, to those headbangin’ Brexiteers on the Conservative benches such as Liam Fox, Philip Davies, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Messrs. Gove, Redwood, IDS, Nigel Farage and whoever leads UKIP these days.
Increasingly we are living in Nigel Farage’s vision of the UK, one where a politician who has failed seven times to be elected to parliament, and who resembles the kind of man you’d have expected to meet in a golf club in the 1970s, is shaping our relationship with the world . . .
Yet Trump’s offensively simplistic version of populism – and his impenetrably incoherent approach to debate and argument, punctuated as it is with vitriol, abuse and lies – is championed by Farage, who not only now serves as the Commander-in-Chief-elect’s principal apologist to UK audiences, but is increasingly exporting his own brand of ‘too good to be true’ market stall politics to the vulnerably gullible of other EU countries.
For in 2017 Britain’s EU departure is merely the starting point for those who engineered it to indulge in a nationalistic assault on outward, international, liberal social values . . .
Meanwhile, Farage and some of his fellow travellers, both inside and outside of UKIP, as well as amongst the most aggressively anti-EU British media, have offered succour to France’s far right Front National and the Dutch politician Geert Wilders. This disparate alliance is increasingly open in its desire to see the collapse of the EU and one imagines, the diverse, tolerant and multi-cultural societies that are its hallmark and proudest achievement . . .
Globalisation and neo-liberalism have raised legitimate questions and created understandable grievances to which Brexit and Trump are the wrong answers. Both responses will leave a trail of disappointment and disillusionment in their wake. But it could be about to get far worse than that!
With thanks to journalist and political commentator Stig Abell for the Nigel Farage golf club line…just too good a quote not to reprint!!
Read the whole article in The BirminghamPress.com