The new politics of the British state

There is a type of politics which, in extremis, resorts to statements or propositions which so completely defy the normal parameters of human intellect – logic, coherence, natural justice – that they become all but impossible to address in terms of those intellectual parameters. How does reason seize on arguments that aren’t formed as reasoned arguments but as an amorphous mass of glittering generalities, reality-denying slogans and empty assertions?

Theresa May’s declaration of intent regarding Brexit is just such a phenomenon. The unreasonableness of it is so massive that it cannot be approached without the risk of being sucked into its gravitational field and becoming as lost to the world of political and economic reality as May is. In that world of political and economic reality, none of what Theresa May says makes any sense. It’s the opposite of sense. It’s more than mere nonsense. It is a vehement, violent rejection of sense in favour of towering delusion.

May has embraced British nationalist ideology with a fervour that is uncompromising. She has declared the narrow, exclusive, isolationist dogma of British nationalism to be the defining ethos of the British state. Her rhetoric is littered with the dizzying contradictions and inconsistencies that characterise a British nationalist fundamentalism previously confined to the fringes and only openly expressed in spittle-flecked posts on social media and barely coherent rants in the comment facilities of media outlets that gleefully pander to xenophobic, racist, insular, British exceptionalism. May has brought all of this out of the political sewer and into the mainstream of British politics.

According to May, she will both “consult and work with the devolved administrations” AND completely cut them out of negotiations with the EU leading to the UK’s exit from the EU. Her claims for those negotiations are just so utterly surreal as to defy description. The “bespoke Brexit deal” that she trumpets would be an impossibility even if the UK had any bargaining power at all. Given the reality of the UK’s situation, such a deal is so fantastical that believing in it goes way beyond a faith-position and into the realm of pathological delusion.

It doesn’t matter how many standing ovations May gets from audiences lost in a rapture of adulation, the EU is not going to compromise on the issue of freedom of movement so as to accommodate British nationalist isolationism. The EU has absolutely no reason to make any such concession, and every reason not to. Belief in the possibility of such a “bespoke Brexit deal” is truly a triumph of ideology over intellect.

Almost as delusional is the notion that post-Brexit UK will stroll into trade deals with both the EU and non-EU nations which are both entirely advantageous to the UK and impose no conditions in relation to such matters as “how we label our food”. There must be genuine concern in the business community across the UK that this might be more than mere rhetoric and that May and her government might actually believe it to be feasible.

But surely worst of all is the vaunting arrogance which May declares her intention to exclude Scotland’s democratically elected representatives and the casual contempt with which she dismisses the concerns, aspirations and priorities of Scotland’s people. This is domineering, anti-democratic ‘One Nation’ British nationalism made manifest and writ large. Not only Scotland, of course. It must be noted that May is treating the other devolved administrations with similar disdain. And that she has even set herself above the UK parliament – which is overwhelmingly opposed to Brexit.

What we are witnessing is the end result of a process that naturally follows from the concept of parliamentary sovereignty and the usurping of parliamentary authority by the executive. May is effectively asserting the powers of absolute monarchy. All subtlety is gone. All constraints have been cast aside. This is not politics as we have known it, or as we want it to be. It is a politics that is rightly anathema to the people of Scotland. It is totally alien to the political culture that we are developing in Scotland. It is not to be tolerated. It must be resisted by every democratic means at our disposal.

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11 thoughts on “The new politics of the British state

  1. Corrado Mella

    I don’t believe we will get anywhere through “democracy” as confined by the British State.

    It was a “democratic” vote that installed the Tories in government of the United Kingdom, and again “democracy” to deliver a referendum result against continued membership of the EU.

    The subverted democracy we live in now is an oligarchic plutocracy, and the only way to defeat it is through the same method it gained power with: subversion.

    I’m not advocating popular revolt and pitchforks, but the simple rejection of any diktat, directive, imposition, guidance, suggestion and plead coming from people we shunned at any occasion we have been given, and consequently doesn’t have any primacy on us.

    Scotland, you are stronger than you ever imagined.

      1. Alan Crerar

        Done 3 years ago, Dan. Anyone not done it yet? Come on….stop paying for propaganda, paedophiles and over-paid prats.

  2. Iain MacLaren

    It seems slightly unfair towards the end of the piece, to accuse someone whose job it is to deliver (much as I disagree with it) the democratic will of the people of the UK, established by referendum, of setting herself “above the UK Parliament”.
    My understanding is that May is pro-Remain and anti-Scottish independence. (An “arrogant” UK Prime Minister with those two personal beliefs would perhaps instead have attempted to minimise the clamour for Scottish independence, by somehow avoiding Brexit).
    The logical conclusion of your argument is that she should have disregarded the results of one or both recent referenda. By either treating Scotland differently when it voted not to be, or keeping the UK in Europe when it voted not to be. That would have been the “arrogant” option, would it not?

    1. Sandy

      She is disregarding the result of one of the recent referendums. Scotland voted by a 62% majority to remain in the EU.

      1. Iain MacLaren

        I see what you mean, of course, but the brutal inexorable logic of the results of those two referenda (regardless of what you or I might think of them) was: 2014 – Scotland throws its lot in with the UK as a whole; 2016 – UK as a whole leaves the EU. May acting otherwise would require a partisan parsing of those results for which there is no democratic mandate. (In this context, what the 62% vote perhaps did was add to the backdrop against which any future indyref would take place, but no more than that, really).

        1. Sandy

          I take your point, but the problem with the logic is that the Uk isn’t a ‘whole’ – it’s supposedly a ‘partnership of four equal nations’. Scotland has separate laws and a concept of sovereignty by the people (who just expressed a clear desire to remain EU citizens) that rubs up against the Westminster concept of parliamentary sovereignty.

          To me, there are only two ways to resolve this conundrum. Scotland either becomes independent or Westminster has to declare it is effectively annexing Scotland and ignoring the democratic wishes of its people.

          1. Iain MacLaren

            I agree with you about there being a conundrum. Scottish voters’ recently expressed desires to stay in both the UK and the EU have turned out (through no fault of their own) to be effectively contradictory. So if May made some sort of special case for Scotland (God knows what that would be, or how it would be done) she would have effectively disregarded the 2014 55%; if she didn’t, she would have disregarded the 2016 62%. So it’s a question of opinion as to which majority you or I would prefer her to disregard.

            It’s reasonably obvious that the choice in any future independence referendum would effectively be between Scotland being in the UK or being in the EU. And as I’ve said before on here, the rejoinder to my point above about the 2014 majority is: “Ah, but the UK they were voting for in 2014 doesn’t exist any more”. That is perhaps true, but what is equally true is that the post-Brexit EU will not be the same as the pre-Brexit EU, because the world’s 5th largest economy, and all its financial contributions, will just have left it.

            May has just received the world’s biggest hospital pass from Cameron. Caricaturing her as arrogant, I don’t think quite captures the reality of the situation.

          2. Kangaroo

            I look at the two results quite differently. Think of the UK travelling along a road and we get to a fork. Left is “yes” to independence and we chose to stay on the UK path and proceed forwards. We come to another fork some time later. Right is “brexit” and we again chose to keep on the path we were previously on. rUK chose to go right, they are the ones who are leaving. We should not be being dragged off our chosen path.

            Just because the question was whethere the UK should Brexit does NOT mean that it is a joint decision. We did not want this EU referendum so why should we allow rUK to dictate what we should do?

  3. Dan Huil

    “In a joint statement of 5 August 2014 David Cameron and the Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson – along with Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg then Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont, the LibDems’ Willie Rennie, signed a pledge saying: “Power lies with the Scottish people and we believe it is for the Scottish people to decide how Scotland is governed.” How will the Conservatives keep this pledge on which they won a No vote if Scotland is pulled out of the EU against its will?”

    No doubt Westminster arrogance and ignorance will prevail – unless the [non-britnat] people of Scotland do something about it.

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