People leapt from their chairs this week in both hope and horror at Westminster’s self-induced political rheumatism. But as Parliament spluttered over the future of Brexit, the activism that supports it was mired by hot takes and high stakes. It’ll all be a distant memory soon, right?
When Michael Fish notoriously predicted clear skies back in October 1987, the hurricane that swept South East England caused huge damage and killed 18 people. You can’t blame Michael for the weather, he wasn’t a mild-mannered bespectacled Storm from X-Men. But this moment has entered into our twee culture to mean any prediction which turns out to be disastrously wrong. Sounds familiar.
I wrote last week that whatever the result of Tuesday’s vote, the best response would be integrity and civil discourse. This wasn’t a prediction per se, but because the past week has been worse than custard in your jock strap – I take full responsibility for the hellscape we’re exploring.
While Brexit was whizzing through Parliament like a surprise fart, everyone was getting a bit rowdy over a Gillette advert which delicately challenged conventions of toxic masculinity. It was a bold and inspiring advert to be sure, but all the anti-PC saints were marching onto the media in all their sweaty glory. Honey-glazed Piers Morgan once again found time from his busy schedule of killing puppies and wolf-whistling to chime in.
Though, it’s remarkable that outside of this Westminster wankery a breathing society is still working and surviving. Being involved in current affairs is stifling, and it’s important to open the window and breathe regardless of the political conundrums we face.
How inspiring. I’ll be on The Moral Maze next.
Of course, the vote on Tuesday returned with a stonking majority for rejection. Over 200 was expected but even MPs were surprised by how deep the feeling of opposition was exposed. Outside Parliament, a large crowd of activists watched the Commons vote declared, in scenes reminiscent of Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997. But instead of grief there was joy at the rejection of Theresa May’s shambolic deal. Alas, those protestors would join the throng of the majority in falling victim to early onset celebration.
Theresa May raised a point of order taunting the Opposition to table a vote of no confidence. May donned a Norwich City FC scarf and evoked Delia Smith in beckoning Jeremy Corbyn to challenge her. “Let’s be havin’ you!” she rasped mechanically.
Corbyn was about to emerge from the vote like a lapdancer from an oversized cake, but May’s sneering approach managed to soften the impact of Jeremy’s birth into government. The backbenches and smaller parties who support a referendum looked on with dreamy eyes. Everyone knew Corbyn would lose the vote, even if by a small margin. I can picture Chuka Umunna and Anna Soubry locking eyes over the clamouring masses of the Commons, and giving a subtle nod and wry smile like scenes from Game of Thrones.
The metropolitan elite sends its regards.
Corbyn lost by 19 votes. Not a huge majority but who needs those anymore?
But suddenly, the crowd that was no longer watching outside Parliament to usher in a People’s Vote, were silenced and shocked by the Labour leader and his frontbench disciples. What Labour agreed in their conference policy was to begin working on alternative solutions to Brexit, including a public vote. It was almost carved in granite by Labour’s Remain supporters. I’m sure Andrew Adonis would have happily worn a gallant robe and white beard as Moses delivering the Ten Commandments of Remain, “Thou shalt not be both passionate and irritating at the same time.”
Oops, sorry Andrew. It’s nothing personal.
Since that subtle betrayal of his party, Corbyn’s followers have been adamant in their continued pursuit for an election. When the brilliant method actor Andy Serkis portrayed Theresa May as the sinister Gollum, he should have booked a second studio to take on Jeremy.
Imagine the outcry from the woke Left! They’re already engaged in pathetic battles with celebrities, for their insistent condemnation of Corbyn and his party. Rachel Riley has been the victim of a monstrous barrage of insults and abuse, which a whole range of big names are avidly bollocking. And apparently J. K. Rowling is now the left-wing version of the Antichrist. It won’t be long before you see shoddily made placards with ‘VOLDEMORT WAS RIGHT’ emblazoned upon them.
Speaking of He Who Must Not Be Named (but is everywhere you look), it’s been difficult to watch any interviews or videos featuring the Shadow Justice Minister Richard Burgon. He may not have the wand, robes, or lack of nasal appendage – but his frustrating and mocking engagements with anyone not in the Corbyn realm, is enough to turn your hair green. He spoke with Jo Swinson of the Lib Dems on Channel 4 News, and dear old Jon Snow (not of The Night's Watch) nailed how everyone must be feeling right now.
Labour’s spiralling into a whirlpool of constant despair. On Friday, young Labour activists published a plea in Jeremy Corbyn’s local Islington newspaper. The words were passionate and kind, and desperate for a positive response – which is not criticism but recognition of Labour’s sincere existential meltdown, especially with the young.
Amazingly, the official Young Labour response was mocking, snide, and insulting. It attacked their methods, their compatriots, and pissed on their justified protest like a centre-left lamppost. If this is the ‘official’ voice of Labour during a crisis, I can’t imagine their elected government being a kind and gentle one.
The Left is isolating itself and driving away compromise. Their glorious leader has now boycotted any talks with Theresa May, refusing to engage until No-Deal is no longer a threat. I can sympathise with this, as No-Deal proves to be the Rapture Day we’re ambling towards. But doing nothing ain’t a good look. Really the only hope to prevent No-Deal is to commit to a statute whereby Article 50 would be revoked automatically if no agreements had been made by a specific date.
But May likes the danger, she’s probably got secret tattoos of when she bungee jumped off the cliff-edge she’s built. And Corbyn’s just running down the clock, so his glorious Opposition can eventually stand on the pile of shit we’re building and place a big red flag on top. It’s enough to make you cry — or watch Isabel Oakeshott on Question Time and throw things at the TV.
Finally for this piece of melancholic murmuring, is the recent problems with several Remain campaigners engaging in dialogue with the Yellow Vest movement. Now, I posted a thread denouncing this tactic – because it’s wrong and normalises the Yellow Vests. It has been shared and liked and I’m very proud to have raised a conversation on it. It also highlights what Remain should stand for, and what we must reject if a referendum is ever to be achieved.
It’s against the decency of the pro-EU movement to be approaching Yellow Vests. Their protests should be completely condemned across the political spectrum, they serve no purpose but to cause unrest and violence. I’d urge everyone to read a really profound article on this by Katie. It’s rational and an honest reminder of why Remain protests. As an appeal to all who are working tirelessly to promote the EU and the wider cause: don’t engage or attempt to reason with the Yellow Vests. They are racist and reactionary thugs, who in spirit of Karl Popper cannot have their intolerance accepted.
We’re all the victims of intense drudgery and political fatigue. I’ve not stepped outside since June 2016, is the sky still blue? It’s sad that I have read of journalists and activists, especially those from the EU, who are struggling with health problems due to the emotional strain of Brexit. A government’s role is to protect and ensure the welfare of its people – but for a decision to cause such psychological and social harm, is truly immoral to all kindness in humanity.
This week shook me, I’ll admit, as the Labour drama on Wednesday and Thursday disgusted me and my faith in politics. It’s not right for people to be habitually cynical. Many use the doctrine of “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.” Our politics has dissolved this belief, as planning for the worst is proven to be never enough. But as always, there’s hope; a glimmer of light in Labour’s Brexit policy which I’m sure will brighten over the next week.
If I was religious, my prayer mat would be worn down to bare thread by now. But I’ll still be praying.🔷
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(This is an original piece, first published by the author in PoliticsMeansPolitics.com. | The author writes in a personal capacity.)