Sunday, November 05, 2017

What Britain is...

It might be true that there is no longer an agreed narrative, but the one being peddled by this article is neither especially insightful nor that sophisticated.

First off, anyone who can in all seriousness include the phrase 'that other great Anglo-Saxon nation' in an article for the non-gutter press, hardly deserves to see their name in print.

And the disappointment expressed here actually tells you more about America and American attitudes to Britain and its history than it does about the modern UK. (Spare me this nonsense about the once great Royal Navy no longer being able to defend our coast.)

There are indeed a number of systemic sources of instability across the developed world, and if one takes a broader view, the UK is not such an outlier in this respect, no matter how agonising the Brexit bellyache has become.
As in the 30s the trigger for much of the problem was the over-reach of American greed which led to a financial crash with global repercussions - many of these ultimately stemming from longer-term, endemic instabilities in local situations. (e.g. Catalan separatism.)

There is also the matter of partisan intransigency and alternative truths currently being cultivated by social media platforms.

That said, Britain’s reluctance to be a part of closer European political integration has been obvious for all four decades of its involvement with the block. While, at the same time, the need for such integration has been growing more and more acute over the past decade or so.

Brexit was made possible by the sort of mobs and snobs rapprochement that has occurred on several occasions in our history, even though the present one is largely being blamed on the very contemporary phenomenon of globalisation.

This extremely loose 'alliance' of ultra-liberal (in the British sense) and ultra-illiberal (in the American) perspectives has perhaps been our eccentric island's particular contribution to the contemporary kerfuffle, and may be one reason why outsiders are finding it hard to fathom.

The media are not helping by persistent use of only partially relevant metaphors such as 'divorce' and 'club membership'.

No deal would probably be bad for all parties, but as negotiations continue, factions across the spectrum are raising this supposed worst case scenario for markedly different ends. e.g. there are those on the side of the 27 who clearly still suspect that the UK might have its arm twisted to prefer No Brexit to No Deal.

It's not so far fetched and remains, ironically, more likely to happen with May in power than with Corbyn. A leftist Labour Party returning to government as a result of Tory divisions is surely unlikely to risk making more permanent its rift with its traditional base by ignoring the referendum result.

Yet whatever the ideological Brexiteers on the Conservative party's right-wing imagine the risks posed to the 'fabric' of British democracy by such a decision, my suspicion is that the Tories could yet just sever the Gordian Knot and rebuild themselves around a a more coherent position.

The hazards to party and to country might not in the end be as great as many are touting. The fabric of British democracy is parliamentary after all, and the sooner those delusions of more direct decision-making fostered both by social media and unnecessary referendums are put in their place, the better.