As both the main political parties of the British establishment disintegrate under the weight of their own casual corruption and complacent ineptitude, Nick Cohen’s wish for a “halfway competent opposition” sounds rather more than mere journalistic rhetoric. It has the ring of a heartfelt plea. The almost desperate cry of someone who has recognised that there is a tragic lack in the British political system. Or, more precisely, in England’s politics. A gaping hole where a vital part of the nation’s politics should be.
The fear in the eyes of Johnson and Gove is the sphincter-slackening panic of people who have successfully applied for a job with requirements that exceed their capacities by an astronomical measure. If Nigel Farage shows no such trepidation it is only because he is protected by dumb arrogance and distance from the sharp end. He enjoys the luxury of having no actual responsibility for delivering the things promised by the Leave campaign. The entire burden of expectation lies on other shoulders.
Those others, Johnson, Gove, Iain Duncan Smith (Where is he lurking?), are expected to fill the gaping hole in England’s politics. The realisation is only now dawning on them that they can only disappoint. That they are simply not big enough, nor the appropriate shape, to fill that space. The same realisation will shortly hit those who succumbed to the siren spiel of the Brexit snake-oil sellers. Looking at England’s political seascape now we see the unnaturally vast and empty beach that precedes a tsunami.
Politics abhors a vacuum. Something must fill that gaping hole in England’s politics. The Brexiteers are the vanguard of an assortment of extreme factions which always stand ready to exploit any disruption of the established political system. When established power falters countervailing power advances. Political extremists are ever poised to propose themselves as that countervailing power where the democratic process offers no other alternative.
It’s England’s problem!
In Scotland, we have the alternative that England lacks. We have the Scottish National Party. A left-of-centre, social democratic political party that stands apart from the British political establishment while occupying a dominant place in the mainstream of Scottish politics with a democratically valid mandate from Scotland’s people. Scotland does not succumb to the blandishments of the likes of Johnson and Gove because we have a better countervailing power.
This is not mere gloating. I am genuinely persuaded that the people of England need to look to Scotland for guidance at at this time. To say that Scotland has a distinctive political culture necessarily implies that England does too. It simply remains to be decided what form that culture takes. England needs its own version of the SNP. Quite how this might come about is not immediately clear. But we have to hope that it is possible.
England’s politics is broken. Nick Cohen appears to recognise this. Only the people of England can fix it. Brexit has been sold to them as an easy fix. As the folly of this becomes clear, the temptation will be to seize upon some other easy fix offered by slickly plausible political chancers even more false than Boris Johnson. And even more dangerous. We must hope a mighty hope that the people of England don’t go down that route.
Your new politics will not come to you in convenient flat-pack form delivered and assembled without cost or effort. Your new politics has to be built by you from scratch. It has to be grown from seed. I refuse to accept that this seed does not exist. Let it germinate! Help it flourish. Grow your own progressive civic nationalist movement. Do it now!Views: 1776
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