… and another. There is no end in sight.
A febrile and emotional atmosphere, 150,000 Tory members out in the shires with the final decision on the new Tory leader. They will represent the nation. Even more so since there’s no new parliamentary election planned.
And once the leadership election is over, the big question – whether to invoke Article 50 sooner, or later.
The general disruption and shenanigans on all sides in the meantime will keep us in a state of both panic and amusement.
Quite where Labour will end up is likewise impossible to predict – a separate but related battle in its own right for the soul of the nation – who in the end does Labour represent?
Those who visited this uncertainty and foolery on us will be pilloried by history. Boris has now departed the scene, but he bears a heavy responsibility. He paraphrased Brutus in his recent withdrawal speech: ‘A time not to fight against the tide of history but to take that tide at the flood and sail on to fortune.’
If the tide for him is Brexit, a withdrawal and a ‘glorious future’, he should reflect on the fate of Brutus (he took his own life) and how futile his gesture in holding back the imperial tide.
Back to reality …
Peter Wilby in the New Statesman: ‘… the European project that led to the EU was – and in some respects still is – an an attempt to embed humane and liberal values so deeply that the nightmare [of war and violence] could never be repeated.’
That remains my view as well, but obscured and obfuscated by reactions (some valid, some not) against elites and establishment, against authority and expertise, against neglect and ostentation, post-industrial decline and globalisation, together with …
false perspectives on the past, colouring absurdly-imagined perspectives on the future (Daniel Hannan being one such errant dreamer),
neo-liberal attitudes and policies which with Ayn Rand lurking as a ghost in the room will only make division worse,
immigration and refugee crises, again with deeper issues, this time regarding population movements, tucked away in the shadows.
The optimism and open hearts of younger generations against the certainties of age, idealism against anger and cynicism. (We will need to reduce the voting age to 16, and maybe younger (!), to counter the increasing numbers of the elderly.)
Not forgetting the dangers of referenda, of populism, of a popular press in the hands of barons who bought their stake in the national debate. The triumph of mendacity and misinformation. The dangerous subjugation of parliamentary democracy, which is slow burn and should always be so, to the politics of the moment.
It’s one hell of a mix. To quote Wilby again: ‘Now new monsters, more frightening than Johnson or Farage, emerge across Europe to challenge those values. I was confident that none would acquire serious power. Now I am not so sure.’
We are fighting chimera and obsession and absurdity when there are big issues out there – population, the future of work, the fairer apportionment of resources, and much more, not to speak of the violence and hatred which are always looking for fertile ground in which to take root – they should be our focus.
Working with international bodies – the UN, and the EU, and all the others forums where we get together and talk. The very existence of such forums, in the wider context of history, is a miracle in its own right.
Matched against this there’s the gathering of Beaconsfield Conservatives shown on the news last Sunday (3rd July), so pristine, chatty, engaged in discussing the rival merits of candidates for the leadership), and all so far removed from reality. It might have been a garden in September 1939.
I’ve always loved politics and political discussion – but do I enjoy walking on a tightrope over a precipice?