It’s Independence Day today, though you might not have noticed and your home may not be festooned with bunting. Brexit is (and can only be) a disaster. It is a childish fantasy of Anglo-British nationalism high on its own propaganda. Brexit remains a process that its politically impossible to retreat from, but we all know to be an economic disaster.
One year on after the Brexit vote the contradictions pile up.
As Gerry Braiden reports on the implications for food and agriculture: “A FLOOD of cheap imports after Britain leaves the EU threatens to cripple Scottish farming, devastate rural communities and undermine the UK’s ability to produce enough food to sustain its population, sector leaders fear. As the UK environment secretary Michael Gove moves to reassure Scotland’s food sector with claims Brexit offers an “historic” chance to reshape agricultural policy for farmers and consumers, experts warn new international trade agreements will see domestic markets swamped with produce not prepared to current British standards. Moving to World Trade Organisation (WTO) arrangements, it has been claimed, could also fatally undermine a sector which supports 75,000 business and 360,000 jobs in Scotland.” Read the whole piece here. Our entire fruit and seasonal food picking is based entirely on seasonal workers.
Food is quite important.
The Vote itself was a demeaning experience for many people who had lived in the UK for years excluded on the basis of nationality. It was the polar opposite of the independence referendum when an inclusive residence-based criteria was used. The campaign itself brought a new low to British politics with naked disinformation lies and propaganda masquerading as political debate. One year on and in the aftermath of the shambolic general election and the Queens Speech acting like a giant Pantomime Advert for a Scottish Republic, the feeling of deference and enforced fealty seems to have accelerated in the British psyche. In one of the many binary opposites that are emerging, we have people radically sceptical of all and any politicians, an approach verging on political nihilism, and others engaging in blind-faith, cleaving to a particular view and then demanding strong leadership, almost willing themselves powerless, an approach verging on cultish fascism.
Here’s Wendy from Plymouth who is firmly of the latter group: “None of us need to know”. “The country don’t need to know it all yet …when she’s got what she needs she can let us know” is a sentence you might not find entirely reassuring. This is an expression of extreme deference. It’s as far away from Taking Back Control as it’s possible to imagine. It’s as if the Leave slogan was: “Let’s give away any control we possibly have in blind faith to professional politicians who have our best interests at heart”. If Wendy was in Penicuik not Plymouth she’d vote for Ruth Davidson. She’d love the explicit exclusion that the Scottish Conservatives promise. The t-shirts almost print themselves. On the front Ruth: “We said no and we meant it.” On the back Wendy: “None of us need to know”. The swamp remains distinctly un-drained. This is a country defined by submissiveness that postures behind a Bulldog Spirit. Jeremy Corbyn was again lambasted for not grovelling sufficiently to the sovereign. The Sun helpfully circled the scoundrel: The far-right blogger Guido Fawkes tweeted: “Unforgivable. A final demonstration of why he must never be allowed to be PM – he does not respect what it means to be British. #despicable” In this outlook “What it means to be British” is defined as grovelling. Failure to grovel sufficiently puts you beyond the pale for a blog. But the reality is that this is a broken dysfunctional elite who don’t really know what to do if their naked attempts at self-service are revealed to the general public whom they treat with open contempt. This is we’re told ‘Independence Day’. Illustrated here by two unelected leaders, some celebrity royals, a politician dead for half a century who fought not just for Britain but for Europe, and a Pound Shop fascist. Many of the right-wing commentators that gleefully immersed themselves in the patriotic fervour of a year ago predicted the European projects imminent end. Johnny Foreigner would either follow Britain’s brave lead, or come to their own conclusion that Europe was broken, bust and useless. The Netherlands, would follow, then France, then Germany (probably). None of that has happened. Not just contagion but common sense has prevailed and the right-wing populism that drove us into this debacle (and that these people revelled in and shaped) – has been fought back against and rejected elsewhere. As Timothy Garton Ash has written: “The rest of the EU, by contrast, is making a credible stab at pulling itself together. Ever since French president-elect Emmanuel Macron marched out in front of the Louvre to the strains of the European anthem, on the night of his presidential election victory over Marine le Pen, and even more since his success in the legislative elections, there has been renewed optimism about the Franco-German couple getting the European project back on the road. The eurozone economy grew faster than Brexit Britain’s in the first quarter of this year. Following the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump, popular support for the EU has increased in many member states. Angela Merkel famously remarked in a beer tent in Munich that Europe has to look after itself, since it can no longer rely on the United States and Britain. Leaders in Paris, Berlin and Brussels are now completely focused on their own tough challenges. For most of them, Brexit is an irritating sideshow. One well-informed German source says that when Macron and Merkel met for the first time, they spent about 60 seconds on the subject.” Brexit Culture But if the toxic Brexit Culture has been at times overwhelming, if ridiculous (it gain its power like Trump not from reason or policy but raw untrammelled inchoate emotion) it is not all powerful. It is part of a quickly shifting surge of populism as systems failure kids in and old answers and structures and individuals lose any credibility. We have entered a period that are some describing as being ‘Radical Uncertainty’. The political crisis is reflected in a media crisis. As the writer Dougald Hine has commented: “The regular mechanisms of political narration are breaking down. The pollsters lose confidence in their methods, the pundits struggle to offer authoritative explanations for events that they laughed off as wild improbabilities only months before.” So we are living in a period of real disorientation where sense-making has become a vital craft, not an indulgence. Dougald Hine: “We’ve just had an election in which the full weight of The Sun and The Daily Mail was thrown at destroying Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party — and, by any standards, failed to do so. This is so big that, among the rest of the post-election turmoil, I don’t think we’ve grasped what it means yet. Since the 1980s, British politics has been locked in a basement by a gang of abusers, systematic perverters of democracy, chief among them Rupert Murdoch and Paul Dacre. 8 June, 2017 should be remembered as the day that we escaped. But the point where it became undeniable was the 1992 election and the famous front-page claim: ‘It’s The Sun Wot Won It’. Whether that was true hardly matters — for the next 25 years, British politics has been conducted on the assumption that it was. Until last Thursday.” Fear of the Sun has been a real thing. But now there are signs of this power diminishing. This week we saw the Daily Mail branded “an open sewer” and responding in hysterical terms and descending into a frantic hissy-fit against the Guardian: ‘Fake news, the fascist left and the REAL purveyors of hate’ Technology, media literacy and 30 years of shameful publishing has taken its toll with young people in particular bypassing the whole media circus and finding their news and their sense elsewhere.
Here’s the Daily Mail being laughed out of court:
— The Pileus (@thepileus) June 22, 2017
In these confusing and dark times this sort of rebellion, small as it is, could be important. The same people who lied to you about Brexit lied to you about indyref. The same forces who manipulated Project Fear in Scotland manipulated racism for their own ends in England. The same papers who smeared Salmond went on to smear Corbyn, But Corbynism isn’t the enemy of the independence movement, deference and conservatism is.
— Eleni (@elenistefanou) June 22, 2017
Scotland needs a real independence day, but so does England too.