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.Views: 3851
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