Tuesday, 19 November 2019
Politics as usual
Even as the poll ratings tumble, supporters of the Brexit Party are bravely clinging to the flotsam of their mantra: ‘change politics for good’. It’s a great idea, it is sorely needed. And it is never going to happen. The contest, such as it is, is between the two parties which have alternately held power throughout my lifetime. Two parties which currently seem to be trying their best to not get elected. Every manifesto announcement is palpably false; every pledge, every commitment undeliverable.
This is because politics as it has become is a centrist mêlée in which neither side can gain the upper hand and the country always loses. The pundits are saying different, that we have a choice between quite-right and extreme-left, but the reality is that all parties are courting a populist mandate and fighting for the votes of a people long cowed by the spectre of political correctness and afraid of offending. The few dissenting votes cast will go the likes of the Brexit Party and under the first-past-the-post system are likely to fall on fallow ground.
In years gone by we genuinely did have a choice between a socialist, Labour administration whose authoritarian ideals meant they would provide so long as we behaved ourselves and paid our taxes and a more laisse faire Conservatism where we would provide and the government would behave itself.. as long as we paid our taxes. The Liberals, later to morph into the Liberal Democrats would, as is their lot, be the natural repository for the lost votes of those without such strong tribal convictions.
Those who saw themselves bold and different would pledge for the BNP, Cornish separatists or the Monster Raving Loony Party and other fringe rebellions in the certain knowledge that they would never form a government and never influence government policy. But then came UKIP. Nigel Farage, a political force of nature, took a protest movement and brought it national credibility against a barrage of pretty foul play from the establishment to a position where it promised to challenge ‘politics as usual’. And had one elected MP.
This is now, I believe, the fate of The Brexit Party. As much as I and millions of others want to change our politics, we have no model of what that change looks like. For every couch rebel there is also a tribal Labour voter who will return to the socialist fold under Jeremy Corbyn. For every disenfranchised ex-Tory, like me, there will be two who will breathe a sigh of relief that Boris gives them hope of getting their party back.
So, my prediction, for all that it is worth, is a workable Conservative majority under a single elected term Prime Minister, which will muddle through with a form of Brexit that satisfies nobody and then oversee a slow economic recovery just enough to steady the ship. Shortly thereafter, business as usual will see the long knives out again, the EU will come back to savage the Tories and a watered down, post-Corbyn opposition will be all set to let go of the purse strings once more. And so the circle of British political life turns.
Viva la Revolución!
Nigel Farage deserves a peerage, a knighthood at least; what he has done is the closest anybody has ever done in my lifetime to change things. But the disunited might of the entrenched order has done what it always does. The establishment does not tolerate outsiders and one of the ways it quietens their voice is to bring them inside. A Lord Farage would be rendered toothless and regarded as a sell-out, so such an honour would be a poisoned chalice. So what would YOU do? And as for that single Brexit Party MP, it’s going to a cold, lonely few years.