Thursday, 8 June 2017

Self-indulgence has led Britain to this dismal point

I have voted Labour (actually about 10 days ago, by post) and, for the first time in my life, with no enthusiasm whatsoever. I voted for the party under Ed Miliband, knowing he was unlikely to win but at least thinking he was a vaguely decent human being, who might just be able to learn on the job and deliver something for Britain if elected.

I am afraid I cannot do so with Jeremy Corbyn. I have been in this party too long to leave it, clinically, to the dogs and believe it is not dead yet. But it is clearly drinking in the last chance saloon.

What led us here? Two different cases of self-indulgence, of making a poor decision on a whim. People being bored and longing for “inspiration”, “excitement” about politics. Well, look back on your handiwork now and glow with pride.

Exhibit A: the self-indulgence of 52% the electorate – because it ought to be called out as that – in falling for the snake-oil salesmen who sold them Brexit and then ran away. Who genuinely believed they would “take back control”. Instead they have pointlessly given a seismic shock to economic confidence from which it will surely take years to recover.

Nationalism is invariably about emotion, not logic. Ask non-nationalist Scots, or Catalans. It has no “reason”. It just is. But like religion, or any other political ideology, it can be powerful.

Britain has had such a disastrously weak opposition since September 2015, that it not only failed dismally to argue the case for Remain but has been unable to provide a pro-European opposition in this general election, which has by default confirmed Theresa May’s mandate to implement a Brexit as hard as she likes.

Exhibit B: the self-indulgence of many of the Labour Party’s activists and supporters (although there are also many honourable exceptions) in thinking it can defy political gravity and get elected the only truly far-left leader in the party’s century-long history.

And if you genuinely think that Jeremy Corbyn does not qualify as “far left”, it’s because you haven’t been listening for about the last forty years. In fact, he is one of only a handful of British politicans not to change their views over that time (most of the rest are his Shadow Cabinet allies).

There is a surfeit of information out there, as the Centre Left has observed numerous times and many well before he was ever party leader. You cannot just stick your fingers in your ears and mutter “fake news”. He is a sympathiser with Islamist and IRA terrorists. He does indulge anti-Semites.

And of course a special prize for self-indulgence goes to the 35 idiot MPs (there is no other word for them) who decided they would break with the common sense rules of the PLP deciding the leadership shortlist, in favour nominating of someone who they actually didn’t even vote for “so all sides of the party were represented”. As a result, an unexpected win for Corbyn has coming close to actually choking the life out of their beloved party.

No, it is self-indulgence which has led us here. We chide the Americans over Trump, but we are exactly the same. We have indulged our fantasies over the serious business of who runs the country and are now paying the price via the awful, lose-lose choice we are faced with today.

And if you want to know what happens to countries which don’t take seriously the business of who runs the country, you need only look as far as recent events in Turkey. Or Russia. Or even little Hungary, vying within the EU for the dubious distinction of being its first dictatorship. We Europeans sure have short memories of the history of our continent, to have got so frivolous, so quickly, about who governs us.

“Eternal vigilance”, Aldous Huxley wrote in a variation on the old saw, “is not only the price of liberty; eternal vigilance is the price of human decency.”

We might reflect on that, as our party lies in pieces. We not only failed to be vigilant, we self-indulgently, complacently let them in. We invited them in.

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