So there was a bit of a march in London the other day which was attended by between 120,000 and 720,000 people depending on who you listen to. This was just the latest round of the great Brexit melodrama, and was to either ensure proper democracy giving people a say on the vote or to “stop Brexit by any means necessary” and in the process make a mockery of democracy again depending on who you listen to. Our glorious leaders have ignored pretty much every demo ever held, so there no good reason to expect them to pay attention to this one, unless it gives them an excuse to do what they already want to do. That aside though – as other more well-informed people have observed at this point even if everyone involved were to act with utmost speed it’s already too late to prevent the UK leaving Europe via article 50. Further even if the UK did by extraordinary efforts manage to decide we’d changed our minds in time the rest of the EU would have to agree to that, and presumably if there was any change to our terms of membership we’d have to have another referendum to agree to that ( as that’s apparently how things work these days ).
I’d love to blame this debacle on those that sit in Westminster, a corrupt media and sinister foreign powers and they may well all have played their parts but unfortunately “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.” We elected those politicians and whilst the choice wasn’t great we’ve been electing the same brands for years, for fear of the other brand or because there’s no point in not voting for anyone else and we lambaste any politician that makes a mistake, changes their mind or acts in any way like a normal human. We have it seems the Government we deserve. As to the media well we’re all by and large far too partisan in our fact checking and keep supporting which ever lying rag tells us the prettiest lies. More than that far too many people on both sides of the fence have acted like the very rabble we’re accused of being, lapping up whatever nonsense our echo chambers serve us because having real debates and reading white papers is just far too much work.
I’ve just come across an article written by Fintan O’Toole for the Irish Times where he posits that Trial runs for fascism are in full flow. Now I’m sure Mr O’Toole is probably far better informed than me and has spent far more time than me considering such matters. He certainly carries on the narrative popular amongst the left that the sky is falling and that any day now there’ll be jack boots kicking in doors. From pretty much everything Trump does to the Brexit vote is all part of a global plan to quietly usher in a new Fascist regime. Now I continue to struggle to believe in such global conspiracies if only because I doubt that our glorious leaders could organise a piss up in a brewery. However if you give his idea of a global Fascist conspiracy credence then I think he’s missing half the picture, if we are seeing the quiet trialling of a fascist take over then I’d suggest we’re seeing the Harkonnen ploy. Put such terrible people in charge, have them grind people down so much that when a “strong” leader arrives to “liberate” us then we’ll welcome them with open arms and give them all the powers they ask for, place our necks under their honeyed boot.
Now some of you will possibly be saying I’m being fanciful and contrary just because someone on the left has written something. To rebut such accusations let me play an alternative movie reel for you – in the same genre as Mr O’Tooles dystopia.
What if the Brexit vote wasn’t manipulated but just the appearance of manipulation was created. This appearance of manipulation could then be used to water down and ignore a huge democratic vote. To trial how blatantly a democratic movement could be ignored without causing riots, to see how little theatre is needed to be able to ignore vast swathes of the people, to find out just how crushed peoples spirits are. The division of the population into tribal factions is definitely happening, but look at which side is declaring certain view points beyond the pale, and that just holding some opinions merits ostracism and violence. It’s not those Mr O’Toole has in the frame. Of course if there was a global conspiracy to bring about fascism they’d no doubt be using both sides as it doesn’t matter who carries out there work, especially if it’s a bait and switch.
As Mr O’Toole says it doesn’t need a majority just enough people that are prepared to use intimidation, at which point I look at Antifa and their habit of turning up to peaceful events masked and almost in uniform to make sure that those events aren’t peaceful. To see who’s using intimidation to suppress opinion and freedom of association we need to point the camera in the opposite direction to where Mr O’Toole would have us look. We’re seeing that tricky step of people getting used to extreme cruelty and violence with the readiness that people took to “punch a Nazi”. Which rapidly became “punch anyone that looks a bit like a Nazi” and then “punch anyone we disagree with”. Which groups are being dehumanised and widely portrayed as a threat, depends on which reel you’re watching from the one side it’s numerous protected minorities particularly those of certain faith which cannot be criticised, from the other side the threat is the racist proles that votes for Brexit, like the football and are starting to become interested in politics.
Mr O’Toole does miss a couple of elements that one should expect to see, and again I suggest that’s because his camera is pointing the wrong way. There should be the take over of a legitimate party by entryists and extremists that demand the purging of the party for political purity – I’m looking at you momentum. There should be a cult of personality around a political leader, who is seen as above criticism and the saviour in waiting – step forward Mr Corbyn and your fan club. For the full cliché of course what you’d really need is a left-wing political party with a strong anti-Semitic tendency, yep got that as well though again not where Mr O’Toole is looking.
If you want to buy the script that Mr O’Toole is selling, that we’re seeing a global conspiracy to run sea trials of fascism then I’d like to suggest he’s not showing you the whole picture. That if that is what’s really going on then it’s not one side or the other of the political fence that’s the problem but the whole of the political establishment. I would though suggest that when the violence arises to save us, the jack boots will once again be worn by those on the left. So which movie are you watching? Or should we perhaps consider that if this plot is accurate that the trials are being from both sides because ultimately they all just want to be the one wearing the boot stamping on our face.
A draft report from the Electoral Commission is reputed to say that the official leave campaign broke the law during the Brexit referendum campaign. This has of course got those opposed to Brexit all of a flutter, declaring that this nullifies the result and that article 50 can be revoked and all manner of other things. One thing I haven’t seen them calling for is for the vote to be run again. Suddenly a “peoples vote” is off the agenda no need for that just revoke the result and award the referendum to remain.
This is of course only a leaked draft and the final report is likely to be challenged. There are also questions about the Electoral Commission itself, did it do things properly, is it biased and why has it so far not investigated complaints made about the behaviour of the remain campaign? The latter I can see a pragmatic reason for, why investigate the side that lost whatever they did obviously didn’t work after all. There have also been a few previous investigations by the Electoral Commission which found nothing, so this is starting to look a bit like taking multiple bites of the cherry.
However lets put all of that aside and consider a few other things. Since the referendum result Remain have repeatedly told us that despite Government leaflets telling us that the result would be implemented the referendum was only advisory so the Government could ignore the result. Well if that was the case then even if the referendum result is annulled it was only advisory anyway so no reason not to press ahead with Brexit if Parliament thinks that best represents the wishes of the people. If it was only advisory then it doesn’t really matter what the result was as Parliament is free to take whatever action it likes in light of the result. I suspect that Remain wouldn’t be too happy with that.
So what are the alternatives? Well we could revoke article 50 and rerun the referendum with new campaigns and very close monitoring of both sides. Whilst this would be expensive what price democracy? Mind you I suspect it would go down with the EU like a cup of cold vomit, and I doubt it would do the economy an awful lot of good either. Which wouldn’t please remain as they seem far more worried about banks, big business and purely economic factors than the Brexit side. Which is something I’ve always found odd as it wasn’t that long ago that the same people were supporting #Occupy with shout to get rid of the city and big business – but hey ho. Starting over from scratch probably isn’t the best idea then, and Remain clearly won’t be happy with carrying on with leaving the EU on the back of a dubious but purely advisory referendum. Which leaves us with the option that would probably please Remain the most, discard the referendum, withdraw article 50 and tell the EU “oops that was all a terrible mistake,lets pretend it never happened”. I suspect the EU won’t be that keen on that and will probably won’t to inflict a price for such an action so we probably won’t be allowed to go back to what we had before. No “status quo” for a repentant Britain (not that there is such a thing as a status quo in an organisation which has the stated goal of ever closer political union).
Let us though ignore all such trifling details. Let’s assume that Parliament does indeed just say “right you lot cheated, so we’re staying in”, further let’s assume that the EU goes “No problem old chap, lets just pretend the whole thing never happened”. I know this is really unlikely but just humour me as it leads to an interesting question. Ever since the referendum result Remain have been saying that Brexiteers need to compromise to reflect the closeness of the vote, that Brexit should be softened to reflect the will of the people. So unless they’re going to try and claim that the official leave campaigns transgressions were so great that actually the vote wouldn’t have been close at all – what I want to know is what “soft remain” looks like? If we withdraw article 50, and stay in the EU what compromises will Remain make to implement a “soft remain”, to properly reflect the will of the people? Mr Cameron after all tried to engineer a soft remain before the referendum and that didn’t go well, since the referendum the EU hasn’t stood still and has proposed centralised EU taxes and a shared military. We’ve been repeatedly told that is we leave we can’t pick and choose what bits to be part of, that it’s all an all or nothing deal. So if Remain got their wish would they then also abandon the idea of compromise to reflect the close divide in opinion, or just how would the engineer a “soft remain”? I know what my money would be on.