“Get it over with and move ahead”

December 4th, 2019.
“What the hell is going on”, or “have the Brits gone completely mad”, are valid – indeed, essential — questions regarding the upcoming UK election. Herewith an assessment, following a visit to the loony bin and conversations with numerous inmates.

 

The good news out of the UK is that Boris Johnson is leading the Conservative Party to an election victory in the general election being held next Thursday, December 12.

The bad news out of the UK is that a victory giving Johnson’s Conservatives an overall majority in parliament is considered good news.

Johnson impending victory – subject to the double caveat that his lead has been eroding during the campaign and that this echoes the botched 2017 election campaign scenario of his predecessor, Theresa May – comes despite widespread qualms about him personally and despite the upheaval within the Conservative party.

It will come, if it comes, thanks to the failure of the opposition Labour party, its leader and the Hard Left group that backs him, to take advantage of the extraordinary opportunity that the Conservative party’s self-destruction over Brexit has provided it, him and them.

It will also come thanks to the fecklessness of the small centrist opposition party, the Liberal Democrats and its leader Jo Swinson. Although the two major parties have both, simultaneously but in different ways, been captured by their extremist wings and made themselves abhorrent to a huge swathe of voters, the LibDems have managed to botch even this unrepeatable opportunity to seize the abandoned centre ground and emerge with well over 100 seats.

Truly, the LibDems are the Palestinians of British politics, who adhere scrupulously to the late Abba Eban’s classic summation of Palestinian politics – “they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”.

A Johnson win will also owe much to the decision by Nigel Farage, the naughty boy of British politics. Now heading a new Brexit Party, Farage first sought to ally himself with the Conservatives but, after being roundly rejected by them, he effectively ‘stood down’ his party by deciding not to fight any of the 317 constituencies that the Conservatives currently hold – thereby passing the baton of leadership of the Leave campaign to Johnson.

Although the contribution of Labour, Jeremy Corbyn and the Hard Left is by far the largest to Johnson’s likely victory, Farage’s decisions best reflect the essence of this surreal election campaign.

Farage is many things, but stupid is not one of them. He well understands that Johnson will not deliver the full ‘no-deal’ Brexit that Farage has spent 25 years working towards. He trusts the hefty Johnson no further than he could kick him. But he realises that the only chance left to achieve any kind of Brexit is via a Johnson victory and a subsequent withdrawal along the lines laid out in the amended agreement that Johnson negotiated with Brussels and for which he won agreement in principle from Parliament in October.

In other words, Farage made a strategic decision to vote tactically, as a party and as an individual, and is urging his numerous supporters to do the same. He is saying, quite openly, that Johnson is not ideal and his Brexit deal is not what we want – but it is probably the best we’ll get, so we should take it. Farage – who was never been elected to the British Parliament (only to the European one), let alone held ministerial office –understands that politics is the art of the possible.

 

Let’s just get it done

This strain of tactical thinking is now commonplace, especially among Remain voters.  They, too, are ready to pass on what they really want – to bury Brexit forever and remain in the EU – and accept what they view as the least-bad option available.

Faced with the most radically-left-wing Labour manifesto ever — and hence with the prospect of an immediate economic catastrophe were Labour to win a majority – many traditional Conservative voters, as well as many potential LibDem voters, have decided that they simply must vote for Johnson et al, if only to block Corbyn et al.

Why not vote LibDem? Because they are not serious and we can’t take the risk, comes the reply. But what about Brexit – which you oppose and a Johnson government will realise? Here the answer is telling indeed:

“We can’t endure the endless obsession with Brexit. We are against it, but rather than wallowing forever in the Brexit swamp, we prefer to get it done and out of the way, and then the country can move ahead.”

This attitude is many things – including cowardly – but its main flaw is that it is totally delusory. Many of its proponents know, or at least fear, that the pious hope that it will be done and finished with (“zbeng vegamarnu”, in Hebrew slang) has no basis in reality. Even the legal/ regulatory aspect will drag on for years – but the real problem is that the split within the country, across age-groups, regions, classes, etc. will be unresolved. The poison will not be drawn, it will remain in the body socio-politic and fester there.

This attitude is nevertheless likely to generate the outcome of a campaign, the main feature of which has been delusion, by self on self and by others on everyone. Both leaders spout promises that are unrealistic to the point of laughable, ensuring that the public holds them in ever-greater contempt. Corbyn’s approval ratings are unprecedently low, whilst many (most?) people regard Johnson as a liar, devoid of any guiding principle, solely focused on self-aggrandisement.

Corbyn’s socialist agenda is an extreme version of the socialist la-la-land now making a comeback across the democratic West.  Why that is happening is debatable, but that his platform is a recipe for collapse is not. So, too, Johnson’s Brexit is a delusion fostered by a cabal of Little Englanders, as loony in their own way as the Corbynistas.

Brexit’s saving grace is that it will not trigger instant chaos, rather it will slowly bleed the economy to death. But its constitutional and socio-political consequences will arrive more quickly, via the departure from the Union of Scotland, followed perhaps by Wales, and – in the positive scenario – the absorption of Northern Ireland into Eire; the negative scenario is for Ireland to descend into ethno-religious conflict, with a resurgence of inter-communal terrorism.

“Getting it over with” is pathetic wishful thinking. “Moving ahead”, tragically, is a baseless and dangerous delusion. Dead ahead, under either party, is the abyss: socio-economic in the event Labour win, national-constitutional and, ultimately, economic, in the more likely outcome wherein Conservatives triumph.

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