2007 - 2022

The Excruciating Detail of Existence

Fair play to Molly Scott Cato – the Green MEP – who is taking David Davis to court over Brexit.

Here she is questioned by interviewer Rob Double, Political Editor of Core Politics who asks (referring to the mysterious impact assessment reports: “Do they exist?” (2.32)


Asking the question “Do they exist?” – raises the status of the impact reports to mystery, they become fabled, like Sasquatch, the contents of the vault at Rosslyn Glen or the identity of Badgeman.

Is David Davis operating in some kind of political Upside Down parallel universe?

What else doesn’t exist that we should know about? What flits in and out of existence under Tory Rule?

We know that a functioning devolved democracy in Northern Ireland doesn’t exist.

We know that there’s no such thing as an ethical foreign policy. British foreign policy has been a multifaceted disgrace over a very long period – but the lucrative shambles in Yemen which even former Tory Minister Andrew Mitchell has called our “interests” are: “dangerously complicit” in a Saudi policy toward Yemen that is “directly promoting a famine and the collective punishment of an entire population”.

The former international development secretary, Mitchell said Britain’s engagement in conflict was “doomed to strategic failure”. He warned of a humanitarian catastrophe “the likes of which we have not seen in decades”.

We know that Taking Back Control is an empty meaningless slogan based on spasms of incoherent English nationalism, racism and misdirected anger.

We know that a peace process in the Middle East is a chimera – and has become a plaything for Americans’s sociopathic President to reach out to his own religious fundamentalist base.

We know that – aside from the wider issue of our housing crisis – the number of rough sleepers in England has risen for the sixth successive year (latest official figures show an estimated 4,134 people were forced to sleep outside in 2016, up 16% on the previous year).

We know also of a “Crisis of Compassion” in which the Home Office used the sensitive information, such as the nationality, mental health and gender of rough sleepers, stored on a database called Chain – the Combined Homelessness and Information Network – (and used by many charities and agencies to support rough sleepers and help policymakers “identify emerging needs”) to instead target homeless EU nationals for deportation.


We know too that six months on – the survivors of the Grenfell Tower disaster – have not been rehoused. In the aftermath of the fire, which killed 71 people, Theresa May, promised that all survivors would be found a home nearby within three weeks. Last week, Grenfell United – which supports survivors – said 80% of the families made homeless in June were still looking for somewhere to live.

The fire which became a grim beacon of social injustice, elite contempt and Britain’s housing crisis has now morphed into something worse. A sort of bureaucratic nightmare in which as Tottenham’s David Lammy put it:

“There’s something about the language that feels transactional, that feels like the local people are consumers. They’re citizens, they’re taxpayers, they’re caught up in tremendous grief.”

We know that we live under a form of celebrity feudalism – neatly mutating into a new Feminist Princess variant. We know that our new heroes against global injustice live in Palaces.

And we know from this that we are just drifting apart from reality.

We know (though have quickly forgotten) that millions of pounds of “the Queen’s private money” is invested in offshore funds in a Caribbean tax haven. 

To return to David Davis’s mythical reports for a second, we know also that the entire terms of the Brexit deal are now predicated on a zero-sum game in which in order for us to ‘Win’, the EU must “Lose’. We know also that having been forced down this road of national humiliation and economic and structural chaos, that we will now celebrate if the least worst options doesn’t occur. There will be a Liberation Day Party, it will be on the news, there will be Coronation Chicken, we will not be invited.

As Nicholas Boyle has written:

“The emotion central to the Leave campaign was the fear of what is alien, and this trumped the Remainers’ Project Fear-of-wholly-foreseeable-damage. The true Project Fear was the Leave party’s unrelenting presentation of the EU as a lethal threat to national identity, indeed as the stranger and enemy who had already stolen it: give us back our country, they said, our sovereignty, our £350m a week, let us control our borders, let our population not be swamped by immigrants or our high streets by Polish shops – and to vote against the EU was to vote to recover what we had lost. The voting pattern, however, revealed that appeal to that emotion, and that vision of the EU, worked only in England. Europhobia was shown by the referendum to be a specifically English psychosis, the narcissistic outcome of a specifically English crisis of identity. That crisis has had two phases, roughly two centuries apart.”

He argues that: “In the first phase, in the eighteenth century, the English gave up their Englishness in order to become British, the rulers of the British Empire; in the second phase, in the middle of the twentieth century, they lost even that surrogate for identity and have been wandering ever since through the imperial debris that litters their homeland, unable to say who they are.”

So we have a series of fables and a question  of what exists?

We know that levels of poverty, hunger, poor housing and homelessness exist alongside a national identity crisis and a renewed and changing obsession with Monarchy. We know that we are being detached from Europe against our will and that our rulers either don’t care enough to examine the economic consequences or have examined them and they are too awful for public consumption.

This much we know.

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  1. Wul says:

    Perhaps Davis’s impact assessments are governed by Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle?


    We can either know that they exists or know that they contain information, but we can’t know both things at the same time. Trying to investigate one state negates any information about the other.

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