There’s been a lot of talk about collusion, complicity and guilt by association recently. Why only the other day I heard whispers of none other than Jeremy Corbyn attending a banquet jointly hosted by the irrepressible double act of Mao Zedong and Tom Metzger, during which the dish of the day was roast Shergar with lashings of brown sauce. I mean holy shit, how could Jeremy do such a thing? Proclaiming that he’s for the many and a dedicated proponent of social justice one moment before choking down the remains of Shergar’s thorax down his throat the next. It’s horrifying stuff.
Normally I’d find myself a mildly concerned yet mostly passive observer to such shenanigans. But today on the afternoon of Sunday the 22nd of April 2018, I, Graham “Thunderthrust” Lithgow and my dear Twitter compadré James “Jimothy” Felton, found ourselves smeared by a fourth regiment of the wild speculation battalion – guilt by omission.
See? This is serious shit.
Naturally my first reaction was to become indignant. How dare this “Spadge” character (if indeed that IS your real name) insinuate that I am somehow in support of general misdeeds. We’re talking about “unspecified really bad stuff” here and I will not have my good name tarnished by the insidious tittle tattling of the baying mob.
However, I then realised something that chilled me to the bone. He’s right. I haven’t condemned evil sufficiently, at least not according to my hazy recollection. Sure, I may have used the opening monologue of my toddlerhood to disown Hitler as an irredeemable dick, but I can’t quite be sure. It’s certainly nowhere to be seen on the Lithgow family video archive. As weird a statement it would have been to make while unwrapping my Duplo set on the morn of Chirstmas Day 1993, it’d have least prevented me from spending my formative years tacitly supporting the Third Reich – and even that would have only ensured the purity of my soul with regards the ‘Mr Hitler’ subsection of evil.
That’s it. This must stop today. No more will I roam the Earth casually allowing malevolence to prevail by way of my silence, my complicity ends now with the following statement:
My name is Graham Lithgow. I’m 28 years old, going slightly grey and I’ve been known to occasionally stay in bed until early afternoon.
However these mild misdemeanours are not the reason I’ve called for your attention today. For you see I’m actually guilty of a crime far worse – silence.
For too many years I’ve stood idly by, drifting through life as atrocities unfolded around me. Wars have been waged, innocent citizens subjugated and my neighbours car radio was stolen by the bloke down the road in 1997 – yet what I do? Did I take to the streets in both defiance and solidarity? Did I attempt to kick start a clandestine grassroots movement to undermine and ultimately destroy the ill gotten car radio racket? Did I even say ANYTHING?
It is with great shame that I’m left to admit that no, no I didn’t. I didn’t manage to stop the war, I didn’t get my neighbours car radio back and I had no part in the operation to kill Bin Laden. Instead I rather disgracefully chose to spend my days running around the back garden, desperately clutching onto an ever melting Calipso as it faltered up against the baking summer sunshine. Not only did I do nothing of worth, I revelled in my passivity – selfishly handing over my barely earned pocket money in exchange for a frozen treat I didn’t deserve; all the while despicable dictators continued thriving across the globe as my hapless neighbour was forced to make the arduous journey to work without the heavenly rhythms of Grand Funk Railroad to soothe his heart.
I know I’ve done wrong. I know that whatever apology I can offer simply wouldn’t be sufficient or even welcome. But there is one thing I can do and it’s simply this:
I hate evil. I denounce it in its entirety, not omitting a single branch or sub group. I may have let you down in the past but I want you and indeed everyone to know that Graham is a new man. Next time you’re making your way home from Tesco and find yourself stumbling across a war crime in progress, know that Graham condemns it – one billion percent. Should a murder report flicker across your television tonight – fuck no Graham don’t jive with that. Not on my watch mister…and don’t even get me started on the strength of opposition the neighbourhood urchins shall receive from old Graham the next time they trample upon your prize rosebush. I don’t support rose trampling and I never will, not even in extreme circumstances. I trust this is now understood by all.
I can’t speak for my associate Jimothy Felton of course, I highly suspect he’s currently attempting to internalise his reaction and come up with a definitive response all of his own. You can trust that he’s a good man however and I have faith in his ability to recover from this potentially eternal shame and become a halfway respectable human being once more.
For my part however, I can only hope I’ve now made myself clear.
It’s the weekend once more and we all know what that means. Five entire days of having your already miserable soul trampled under the steel toe capped boots of customer dissatisfaction and wildly unrealistic performance targets are at an end, giving way to a two day lull which, while promising much at its opening, will likely descend into 48 hours spent entirely in bed binge watching old episodes of Happy Days.
Or at least, that was my expectation. Because instead of the wholesome antics of Potsie Webber and Ralph Malph opening up my Saturday, I was instead greeted with this:
Oh shit. That doesn’t sound good. This is even more depressing than the episode where Fonzie went blind and, for those who possess a memory that spans beyond the last decade, there’s also a familiar sense of dread lingering in the air.
Ah, war. Now there’s a dose of nostalgia that nobody is happy to see – save perhaps for Robert DuVall’s surfing CO from Apocalypse Now. To go along with all the death, destruction and diplomatic unrest that is par for the course when it comes to such shenanigans, there’s also the inevitable divide of public opinion. There’s those who, being well aware that we have a very capable military at our disposal, consider it our duty to intervene when a crazed fascist in a far away land sees fit to dispassionately kill scores of his own citizens in the most inhumane way imaginable – they themselves doing little more than desperately trying to survive with a war zone right outside their door. On the other side of the fence there’s those of a more pacifistic disposition, steadfast in their belief that further bloodshed can never be the antidote to a violent conflict – rather hoping that a pushing a diplomatic solution can finally bring about peace after decades of instability and brutality. The anti-war crowd also find their ranks significantly bolstered by a third demographic, people that feel we should stay the fuck out of squabbles halfway across the world – instead keeping our heads down and negating the risk of having ourselves dragged into a fight we could easily stay out of. After all, it didn’t work out so well last time, did it?
So where do I, a perpetually befuddled burn out, stand on all of this? Do I think military intervention is the way to go? Or would I rather we push for a peaceful solution, sending Assad all the fruit hampers our budget will allow in the hope he can eventually be brought to the table for productive talks?
Well, in actuality it’s not so much about where I stand but rather where I sit – and that’s firmly upon the fence, watching the debate unfold with increasing unease as carbuncles begin to form upon my rapidly deteriorating posterior region.
Don’t take this as ambivalence on my part however. My staunch entrenchment to the middle ground doesn’t stem from any sense of disinterest, rather a weary acknowledgement that I just don’t fucking know. As with most divisive issues, there’s sound arguments on both sides though, sticking to form, the mutual recognition that all participants have somewhat of a point becomes lost amongst the tribalistic bickering. In what has sadly become true of most 21st century disagreements, it becomes less about the moral responsibilities and implications of the matter than a frantic bid to discredit the opposition – the distant horror all the while continuing unhindered.
So what to do? Well, as a layman in both global politics and military strategy who isn’t sufficiently decisive to throw his weight behind either cause, all I can really do is to take stock of everything (in as objective a fashion as my inherently biased mind can allow) and attempt to make sense of it.
So let’s try that, shall we?
Our first stop is at the door of those opposed to military intervention and the thoughts of arguably their de facto spokesman, Jeremy Corbyn – a man who achieved such idealistic prominence by way of routinely voting against every proposed military solution he came across during his 35 years in Parliament. Irrespective of whether you consider yourself part of his congregation, it’s rather difficult to argue against his dedication to peaceful resolutions and his portrayal as a dangerous, terrorist supporting communist is demonstrably ludicrous – but what of the validity of his counsel?
The main thrust of his contention with tactical strikes is what they will leave in their wake. Syrian refugees scrambling upon our shores are often noted by the mainstream media but considerably less focus is afforded to what they’re actually running from – quite possibly because it makes them much harder to demonise. Take a moment to look outside your window right now. See any buildings burning to the ground? Any dead bodies lingering awkwardly around the outskirts or your vision? Is your daily soundtrack punctuated by agonised screams and hails of gunfire? No? Then you’re lucky – very lucky. But if you were to be in such a position then chances are more missiles arriving on the scene courtesy of a distant third party wouldn’t be atop your wish list. Granted, the targets are described as military installations and chemical weapons plants but, as footage has shown, civilisation is never too far away.
Humanitarian concerns aren’t the only argument present at the table either – some concerns rest much closer to home. Assad may be a despot with an unsettling lack of regard for the value of human life but, somehow, he’s managed to obtain himself a few allies – one of which being the seemingly perennial menace that is Vladimir Putin.
It’s arguable that we’re already embroiled amidst the opening days of a second Cold War, many fearing that one too many rushes of blood to the head could lead to this one heating up pretty quickly. Prior to the strikes, Russia had already stated their intent to both intercept any missiles that dared cross into Syria – along with a promise to retaliate against participating nations in kind. As to whether this is just bullish posturing or a genuine threat often depends on your own perspective but, with the perceived bluff having now been called, we’re all set to find out for sure – and there’s a dangerously fine line between petty bickering and walloping someone in the the face.
With more than a slight nod towards Corbyn’s historical opposition to war, the ‘take heed of the mistakes of the past’ argument also comes into play. His opposition to action in Iraq and Afghanistan wasn’t exactly popular at the time but has since been vindicated by hindsight and, given how blundering fists first into the fray proved a colossal mistake last time, Theresa May’s decision to disregard Jeremy’s calls for further investigation might not have an entirely happy ending.
So if we don’t strike against Assad and his monstrous regime, what do we do? Well, diplomatic sanctions and a vigorous attempt at a peaceful solution of course. Such avenues have had their success in the past in remedying conflicts of varying size but such proposals aren’t without legitimate concerns. After all, we’re dealing with a tyrant who thinks nothing of indiscriminately gassing his own nation’s children – it might take more than a few harsh words and shoving a flower down the barrel of a gun to talk him down.
Speaking after Theresa May and her cabinet took their decision to take part in military action (completely without the approval of Parliament I might add), it’s fair to say that the debate on what we as a nation should do has ended before it really began – but did we make the right choice?
If you find yourself in the camp favouring giving that Assad character what for, chances are that the parliamentary decision to reject proposals for missile strikes on Syrian targets back in 2013 plays heavily on your mind. We stood idly by back then in the hopes that a solution not involving blowing shit up would arise only to find ourselves disappointed five years later. Nothing unveils the truth quite like the passage of time and Assad remaining at large to this day leads to a rather unsettling quandary. As to whether military action back then would have been the right thing to do is something that will remain unknown, but those that saw their wish denied back in 2013 are getting understandably antsy. For what they ultimately see in Assad is a vicious bully acting without restraint – and bullies need to be stood up to.
It may be an unpleasant and morally dubious path to take, even for those who ultimately are in favour, but there’s certainly an argument that the ends will justify the means – however brutal the repercussions may be. While the protests and alternatives brought forth by those in opposition may well be idealistically sound, many consider them at odds with the harsh realities of our increasingly dysfunctional world. Pacifists are quick to remind us that love is a universal language, but the sad truth is that violence also falls into such a category – and many suspect that violence is perhaps the only language Assad and his ilk understand.
Whichever way you look at it, neither side of the fence is especially comfortable. Nor is, for that matter, the line of cautious neutrality that I’m attempting to straddle. It’s a miserable situation with a sense of futility accompanying our every move. Whatever we do innocent lives are set to be extinguished and it’s those lives that should be ultimately at the forefront of everyone’s mind right now – regardless of your political leanings. If you think this shit is nasty to read about, just try living it. Because they do. Every single day.
It’s the easiest thing in the world to demonise these people, blaming them for our woes while turning a blind eye to theirs but remember – going home isn’t especially easy when you don’t have a home to go back to.
Ever wondered what it would be like to peer into a parallel universe? No, me neither – but if you were ever sufficiently curious to take a peek through the looking glass then fear not. There’s no need for scientific quackery or appealing to the occult; not when you can just pop down to your local newsagents.
See the below case in point:
Yeah, nobody bought it back then either; except perhaps for toadying careerists and the hopelessly entrenched. In any case, time has only served to amplify the absurdity of what was already an inherently ridiculous proclamation. Though May can’t cry foul about a lack of opportunity to prove her mettle – the ludicrous doodle above being perhaps the perfect example. The battle lines were drawn and the tough talk spewed but, now we can look upon proceedings in retrospect, it was ultimately May who yielded first – most likely because the potential success of her negotiating strategy hinged entirely on the EU falling for a bluff that was visible from Jupiter.
However, Brexit being ever the malfunctioning drainage system, spurting out endless torrents of shit for some hapless patsy to clear up, there’s barely a day that goes by without a split pipe for Theresa to fix – or at least attempt to. So what better way to sway public mood and attempt to live up to a preposterously inaccurate caricature than by taking a strong stance on the recent and increasingly disconcerting allegations of skulduggery by the Vote Leave campaign? I mean nobody likes skulduggery, so surely May has to drop that hypothetical (and indeed, hyperbolic) iron fist of hers, right?
You could just look upon this as so far so predictable before your mind moves swiftly onto its next object of vague disgruntlement, but by doing so you’d be missing out on an absolute goldmine of diversionary blatherings – perfectly encapsulated by the following quote which is perhaps the quintessential Theresa May non-answer for all time:
Yes, all your old favourites are here. Starting off with a standard “Can I simply say…” before setting up the finale with the classic promise to be clear (very clear in fact). Then for those still paying attention, their focus is rewarded with an oh so typical sidestep cunningly disguised as a definitive answer – a staple of the May premiership.
When you’ve wiped away the tears and looked beyond May’s seemingly automated soundbites however, you begin to see something altogether more troubling – indifference.
It’s true that the Tories have never quite been held aloft as morally sound, bastions of empathy (a picture that in of itself can lead to a reaction of indifference from the electorate themselves) but, in this case especially, such an empty response to allegations of criminal activity simply cannot be swept under an increasingly conspicuous rug.
If such a brazen lack of concern wasn’t insane enough then factoring Theresa May herself into the mix adds a whole new layer of absurdity. It’s no secret that May backed Remain during the EU referendum campaign; granted you’ll not receive a reminder of this from May herself, but fortunately the vast repository known as the internet continues admirably in its role as a politician’s worst nightmare:
See? She had a sign and everything. Taking this into account it seems almost laughable that Theresa is naive to Brexit being an act of folly and, with her response to allegations of foul play during the referendum campaign being little more than a dismissive shrug, the situation grows increasingly surreal. We’re bumbling towards a Brexit, a path we’re pursuing in stubborn defiance of all the warnings to turn back, led by a Prime Minister who, not only doesn’t actually believe in it, but outright refuses to pause for thought when it’s revealed that a result she didn’t want just may have been won illegally.
Sadly, we’re all along for the ride; gagged and chained on the backseat of a beat up Ford Escort, helpless to intervene as Nosferatu’s great aunt slams down on the accelerator with a cliff edge looming ahead. Obviously this is a pretty horrifying predicament to find ourselves in and, as our minds scurry between visions of fiery doom and chlorinated chicken, a lingering question remains. We know that the one driving the car is fully aware that what they’re doing is madness, so just why is she doing it? If her actions aren’t of her own design then who’s pulling the strings? What do they stand to gain?
It’s been quite a hectic few days with regards the Brexit process. Not through decisive negotiations and the formulation of an actual plan of course, don’t be silly – but there has been a significant amount of impotent fiddlefucking on display. Owen Smith found himself unceremoniously sacked from the Shadow Cabinet for instance, exiled for espousing views that didn’t sit too harmoniously alongside the Brexit stance of his dear leader.
“Impotence” really does seem to be the prevailing theme of the day, the news littered with prominent, ostensibly powerful individuals being reduced to offering up meek excuses. They might not like Brexit, they likely view it as the festering swamp of deceit it’s been all along – but they can’t stop it. Or so they say at least. Makes you wonder why they bothered to become an MP in the first place, doesn’t it?
Both Labour and the Tories seem united on that front, Brexit being an inevitability. This is largely the cause of a perceived lack of distinction between the two main parties – they may offer varying flavours of fatuous promises, but ultimately they’re both going to dump us head first into a septic tank come March 2019. Which septic tank you prefer is ultimately up to your own taste I guess.
However, such a perspective is far from universal – at least when it comes to Labour. We all know that those nasty, old Tories are eager to play the lemming and hurl themselves into the nearest abyss, but not Labour. They’re playing the long game; dabbling in a little four dimensional chess if you will. Labour, who ran on a manifesto promoting social justice and establishing a country that works for more than just the fortunate few, wouldn’t be so reckless as to continue with this preposterous Brexit idea. Corbyn, Starmer et al are just biding their time, concealing their real intentions with vacuous sloganeering, waiting for the right moment to unleash their coup de grace by stabbing the parasitic beast that is Brexit right in the fucking eye…
Whether you give any credence to this notion of Machiavellian subterfuge is ultimately down to how much you’re willing to ignore absolutely everything going on around you. But supposing it is true, that Corbyn is employing an absurdly risky gambit to grab victory from the jaws of Brexit, the real question you still need to ask yourself is “when?”
At time of writing we’re just over a year from Brexit D-Day – the 29th March. Given that we’ve spent the best part of two years lurching from one ill conceived Brexit proposal to another, our minds growing ever more crammed with misconception and outright fantasy, it does rather insistently beg the question as to when this masterstroke is to be unveiled. This isn’t a movie, I’m sure many of us would take salvation here and now rather than waiting until the dying moments of March the 28th for rescue. Sure, the idea is exciting and the inevitable nationwide joining of hands to sing Kumbaya in unison would make for a good closing scene as the credits start to roll but alas, I’m afraid to say such a notion doesn’t seem entirely plausible to me.
The truth of the matter is that the only people that can stop Brexit is the people. Like the One Ring, it can only be destroyed by its creator; in this case the British public – though for a sufficiently anti-Brexit demographic to rise they’re going to need to be informed. Standing at the pulpit and declaring that you’re going to deliver a “Jobs First Brexit” or some other such phantasmagorical proclamation might bring the cheers and adulation from the choir, but it does little to inform – instead only serving to bewilder them further as they wander endlessly through dreamland.
Even if it’s all ultimately just a ruse, you can’t take the winning shot without being ably assisted by the prevailing zeitgeist and that’s the sad reality of Labour’s Brexit stance – all roads still lead to Brexit. Sure there’s only two roads, with it being debatable as to whether the second even exists, but either way you’re still left with a rather dispiriting, binary outcome – submission or failure.
It is perhaps ironic, given that the likes of Arron Banks repeatedly crow on about how the Leave vote was won by appealing to emotion, that it’s the ‘feels over reals’ brigade who seem to subscribe to the idea that “Corbyn’s playing the long game” – and if you yourself are amongst them then fine. There’s probably little that I can do myself to convince you otherwise; but, as unshakeable as your faith that Labour will save us from Brexit may be, don’t forget to take a look outside at what’s actually going on every once in a while.
Otherwise you’re just trapped in a dreamland all of your own.
I like dreams. They’re nice aren’t they? Given life’s tendency to regularly shit out malodorous mounds of harsh reality upon our doorstep it’s a blessed relief to, every once in a while, retreat to the relatively safe confines of your head, immersing yourself in a dreamscape perfectly tailored to your own personal convenience. Bad week at work? Finding yourself repeatedly foiled by your own innate lack of competence? Take a dose of that wonderful drug called delusion. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. We all need a break from the drudgery of own pitiful existence every once in a while. I sure as hell do. Why spend the day agonising over my latest, excruciating social faux pas when I can briefly drift off into a world where I’m erudite, charming and have access to a time machine? I don’t even have to get out of bed.
So there’s no real harm in it – at least providing you’re willing to come back to reality. Most of us do but, rather alarmingly, there have been some fairly prominent examples recently of those who chose to remain lost, forever scurrying blindly through the rabbit hole; searching in vain for the cheese that simply isn’t there.
Ah, Jeremy Corbyn. It is perhaps the perfect irony that a man who’s spent his life working to make his dream a feasible reality has found that very same existence become characterised almost entirely by artifice. Should you wish to gaze upon Comrade Corbyn through the lens of mainstream media you could be forgiven for absorbing the impression that he’s a traitorous Commie who shot John Lennon. When you brush the clouds to one side however, the picture is a little different – though it cannot be denied that he’s still a curious character.
A mild mannered, private man who seems far more content pottering about in his allotment than courting favour with the media. Certainly not the norm for a politician but it’s still undeniably bewildering that he provokes such a reaction from all ends of the political and social spectrums. However, whether he’s met with worship or disgust, old Jeremy plods purposefully onward. Sure, deep down he probably just wants to get back home to his cabbages but nevertheless, he has his principles and nobody is going to deter him from his mission.
I can’t help but respect that and, subsequently, Jeremy himself. He’s not doing it for his career, he’s doing it because he actually gives a shit and feels his voice can guide us onto a more prosperous path. He runs on the ideals of hope, proclaiming that if we simply all work together then maybe…just maybe, things might actually turn out alright. He’s far from the first politician to do employ this approach of course, but he’s one of the few who leaves you in no doubt as to the decency of his intentions.
It is perhaps then no surprise that this message resonated so strongly with the whippersnapper portion of the electorate; bright, young things with a head full of dreams yet to be contaminated by the inevitable cynicism that comes with experience. Of course they’d buy into Corbyn’s vision of utopia – it sounds bloody marvellous and, to tell the truth, I’d be pretty much on board too were it not for one, fatal flaw.
Yes, of course it was going to be Brexit. What else? There’s been nothing that even comes close to it in terms of excreting misinformation and fanciful delusions upon political discourse. The referendum campaign was an entire landfill of unrefined bullshit and you’d be foolish to consider that particular stench as consigned to the past – the idea that we can somehow implement a “Jobs First Brexit” being a recent example. Less fanciful than the Tory’s laughably absurd “Moon on a Stick Brexit” perhaps but, critically, it’s similarly fuelled by the fumes of fantasy alone.
It’s true that Corbyn is a dab hand at campaigning. He mesmerised many during the snap election of last year, recruiting many a young, fresh mind to his cause in a manner not witnessed for a considerable time. The fact that he managed to achieve a respectable result, sticking two fingers up to the naysayers and stabbing the Tory majority right through the heart in one seamless motion, was miraculous in of itself. He defied those who felt he was leading his Labour lambs straight to May’s nearest abattoir and finally proved his credentials as a vaguely plausible source of opposition.
However, for all his brilliance on the campaign trail, he now appears to have bitten off far more than anyone could possibly chew. Unless he can explain how he plans to achieve a “Jobs First Brexit” when he’s set to dive head first into this cavalcade of shit:
I respect Corbyn. I’m far from being a Corbynite though, by the same token, I’m nowhere near the mindset that a Corbyn premiership would bring about our gruesome demise either. Despite my general indifference towards the bloke, there have even been times where I’ve found myself drawn to his charms without ever quite dropping over to his side of the fence – the deterrent in this case being his fanciful declarations on Brexit. Carrying the leitmotif of hope and aspiration is all well and good but it can’t achieve the impossible – and that’s precisely what the concept of a “Jobs First Brexit” is – impossible.
Dream all you want, oftentimes it can lead to priceless moments of insight and inspiration; but don’t get so lost in the clouds that you can’t see the facts lingering below. Even the nicest dreams can be punctured in an instant – often leaving you with both a heavy sense of shame and an ominous damp patch down the front of your pants.
Ever get cold feet? Ever found yourself living in a state of complacency; awaiting a troublesome yet seemingly distant event, only to be shocked into a state of sudden dread when it becomes painfully apparent that it’s now lurking right round the corner?
I’m sure you have. Suddenly shitting your pants upon the realisation that chronic procrastination is about to cost you is all part of the human experience. That particular sensation is perhaps something we’re all currently experiencing right now thanks to Brexit. The 29th of March 2019, once a far off time of little concern (“We’ll figure it out in the end”), is now little over a year away and, rather worryingly, the quest to “figure things out” is still haplessly spinning its wheels in the mud.
Now this is a cause for universal concern. Leaving the EU involves an absurd amount of ramifications and potential pitfalls. This is serious shit. The pound didn’t plummet when I quit the Beano Club; millions of people weren’t faced with the prospect of having their entire lives uprooted. My attempt to progress into adulthood didn’t matter – leaving the EU does.
So it’s up to us. Let’s face it, those in charge don’t have a fucking clue where they’re taking us. Maybe this entire Brexit caper isn’t actually worth it? Maybe we should do someth…wait, what’s that about George Soros?
As if sensing the growing unease around Brexit, Arron Banks’ slippery foot soldier Nigel Farage is duly dispatched.
But wait? What has this got to do with anything? It seems that Nigel is decrying the notion of rich people having implicitly insidious influence over the course of global politics, craftily opting for the Remain backing George Soros as his exemplar as to shamelessly bolster the Farage narrative. However even the most subtle scratch beneath the surface will reveal that societal elites flexing their wealth in order to further a desired political agenda is an entirely universal practice – irrespective of which side of the political spectrum you care to glance towards.
So why even bother? Why even waste your time on a debate, so flawed in it’s concept, that it won’t even go anywhere? Wasn’t there something infinitely more important that we were supposed to be talking about?
See what happened there? See how the moment we’re finally on the cusp of realisation that, actually, Brexit might very well be a shit sandwich about to infiltrate every home in Britain another incongruous bogeyman is thrown into the arena? It’s only when the aforementioned bogeyman is led away (after you’ve been forced to meticulously explained as to why he’s got no reason for being there) that you realise that yet more precious seconds have ebbed away; seconds that, thanks for the artificially imposed deadline brought about by the triggering of Article 50, are in desperately short supply.
And, as you may have guessed, the Brexiteers are keenly aware of this:
When specific examples are viewed in isolation they indeed appear suitably ludicrous but, with widespread practice, it becomes an unnervingly effective tactic.
This is in essence a multi pronged attack. First it plays on the generally passive nature of the populace as a whole. The truth is that a hefty demographic of the people simply don’t give a shit about politics, with those that do often having their exposure limited by time constraints. There’s only so many hours in a day and, chances are, most folk wouldn’t wish to spend to many of theirs ingesting tales of supreme ineptitude – each detailing how their country is haplessly tumbling down the nearest open manhole (believe me, it’s fucking depressing). This is then coupled with exploitation of the over abundance of information on offer, leading anyone brave enough to wade in becoming immediately lost amidst the haze. When there’s thousands of sources at your disposal uncovering the credible can become an arduous task. I mean I’m fairly certain that Corbyn didn’t sell depleted uranium to Al Capone, but do I have the time or inclination to rifle through countless sources in order to uncover the truth? Probably not and neither do you but it’s become locked in my mind regardless and, with that state of befuddlement now firmly in place, it’s now time for the trump card to come into play – outrage.
We all love to be pissed off. Anger is a powerful driving force, effortlessly focusing your mind into a single line of thought. That self entitled dick who stole the last parking space at Tesco will occupy your brain for the next two hours, just think how furious you’d be if it were revealed that wealthy, unaccountable business men are trying to betray your democracy? Furious enough to set all other concerns to one side certainly, especially those that take some degree of effort to fully understand.
Finally, if all other means of distraction fail, they can simply cut to the chase and shut down the entire debate altogether. Anything to stop those irksomely curious plebs from poking too deep into their half baked schemes, right?
It’s no coincidence that such strategies often emerge as a result of chaotic transitions and shambolic administrations. Just a cursory glance towards our friends in America will confirm this, with Mueller’s FBI inquiry into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with the Russians becoming an increasingly prominent story. With new indictments being prepared as we speak and the net seemingly closing in around them, the Trump team must be feeling understandably antsy right about now. The pressure rising and the media questioning becoming ever the more intense, there’s only one course of action left for them to take – strap on their best poker face, proclaim they’ll “make America great again” and…hey, what’s that over there?
Pretty transparent, right? Of course, but its laughable nature becomes significantly less comforting when you see the results it can bring. After all, it’s arguable that the devilishly persistent “but what about her emails?” line of questioning played a fatal role in Clinton losing the 2016 election.
Look – when all’s said and done, which side of the battle lines you plant your flag upon is ultimately an irrelevance. The facts of the Brexit (or indeed, Russia) situation don’t shift. Reality doesn’t bend to the popular will and, as such, claiming “we won, you lost, get over it” is utterly meaningless. Once you’ve realised this, all there’s left for you to do is to look at the facts of the matter – facts that certain self styled “Brexit legends” might not be too keen on you having a rummage through.
So the next time you’re having a gander at the perpetual shambles going on around you, don’t allow yourself to become distracted just as an epiphany draws near. There’s a very good reason why the sleazy, would be used car salesman insistently tapping you on the shoulder doesn’t want you doing anymore of that pesky thinking.
UKIP have an image problem. It’s hardly a secret, even the most politically passive of individuals will likely find themselves experiencing almost innate feelings of unease should so much the UKIP brand flicker into their consciousness for but a brief moment. The reasons behind this are many and exist at many intervals across the entire absurdity spectrum; whether it be a, shall we say, reluctance to provide aid to the third world or a perhaps overly aggressive approach to handling internal party disputes – the outside perception of UKIP remains one of near universal revulsion.
So what were the UKIP top brass to do? A public image, once foisted upon you, becomes seemingly set in stone and the act of shifting it a monumental task. Besides, the farcically regressive aura was hardly ill deserved. The only realistic shot they had at vanquishing the rot would have been to tear the whole thing down and to quietly set about starting from scratch, hoping beyond hope that the ever settling dust masks their intentions.
But of course, such a bold gambit would have taken vision, discipline and professionalism – qualities that have consistently failed to seep into UKIP’s isolationist cabal. So they just changed their logo instead.
Ever the populists, the UKIP re-brand played to its base – or at least attempted to. The ‘all the better colours were already taken’ purple and gold colour scheme remained of course, but no longer was this the canvas for a fusty old pound sign to serve as their motif. Ideologues require something more fearsome rather than being merely symbolic and so, the lion won the day – inspiring a backdrop of groan inducing predictability.
Though, from the very outset, something seemed amiss. This was a recurring theme; a smog of farce had accompanied UKIP at every turn they attempted and it took but mere moments for incompetence to take centre stage once more. As to how much of these apparently inevitable blunderings are down to design or simple negligence is open to debate. Did they unwittingly re-purpose the Premier League logo? Do they appreciate the irony in appointing a lion, a creature that only currently roams these shores by virtue of being imported from a foreign land, as mascot to their hard line anti immigration party?
Who the hell knows? But one thing’s for sure – that lion sure doesn’t look happy. A sullen expression adorning its face and exuding a sense of beaten down impotence – one could argue that it epitomises UKIP perfectly.
However, occupying a state of feckless irrelevance hadn’t always been the norm for UKIP. Why only back in the 2015 General Election they achieved 3rd place in the overall vote share standings. Though this only ended up amounting to one seat, it still presented a significant victory and in part almost justifying David Cameron’s ill fated scheme to ensnare UKIP voters to his cause. With it being successful enough to grant him the majority he perhaps didn’t crave, the simultaneous rise of UKIP applied further pressure for Cameron to begrudgingly deliver upon what he had promised.
Leading the party during this period of unprecedented success was a peculiar chap named Nigel Farage. A former city trader turned populist war cry, who possessed a fashion sense so peculiar you could easily imagine it being the result of a night spent binging on 1940’s media whilst impaired by some sort of extreme narcotic. Nevertheless, this bewildering anachronism managed to prosper in grassroots politics, a world away from the uniformed halls of Westminster – a world that also contained the so called “unheard majority”.
Nigel set to work on schmoozing with the proletariat; he wasn’t like the stuffed shirt elites who littered the Houses of Parliament – he was just like them. He even had the ‘Fisher Price – Beer and Fags Accessory Set’ to prove it. He charmed them, he inspired them and, depending on the narrative to which you subscribe, he came to represent them – because he was just like they were; disenfranchised and pissed off at the corrupt system holding the little guy down.
As divisive and morally dubious as Farage could be, he was most certainly an effective politician – all the while assuming the guise of a vengeful outsider. However with Brexit secured the party’s overall purpose had become increasingly unclear. The war was viewed as won and, with his name recognition having soared, the general decided to step down. He’d “got his country back”, now he was going to pursue getting his life back; though, having spent his entire political life chasing the Brexit dragon, with the dragon now quelled it didn’t seem like there was much else to get back to.
Still, losing their figurehead (arguably their only prominent figure in the entire party) didn’t sit well at a time their entire relevance was dwindling. Some sense of stability was desperately needed. If they were ever going to save the sinking ship then robust, reliable and enduring leadership was required – to hold the party together as their entire reason for being faded around them. This task fell to Diane James, coming right out of the blocks with defiant proclamations of UKIP’s potential to thrive – going as far to say that they would become the de facto party of opposition.
Nigel, ever the maverick detective for who circumstances never allow him to retire, took less than a day to swoop back onto the throne – albeit on an interim basis until a suitable heir could be elected.
Indeed an heir was eventually chosen – but if UKIP were hoping for a suitably cunning rabble-rouser to extend upon what Farage had created then they were to be sorely disappointed.
Paul Nuttall was a interesting bloke, but how much of this interest was down to his actual credentials and qualities as a person was infinitesimal at best. For you see not much about who Paul Nuttall really came out; at least not direct from the source. Apparently concerned about stepping into the shoes of a man who, at least partially, had achieved some measure of success by playing the ‘Cult of Personality’ hand, Nuttall seemed determined to cultivate his very own cult of personality. Unfortunately for Paul, likely being misrecognized as Eddie Hitler more often than being acknowledged for who he actually was, such a task didn’t seem especially feasible. Hell, what did he even have to work with?
So he set about crafting his own mythos and it was one that needed to tick certain boxes in order to be effective. UKIP aren’t especially well regarded by the would be intelligentsia so hey, by all means bolt a PhD next to your name. Then there’s the working man to appeal to; your core demographic – the base. There must be some high profile yet highly emotive cause to latch onto out there, surely? Don’t forget to throw a footballing past into the mix. Everyone loves football, right? Politicians being deceitful is just the way of the world, it’s accepted. Even if someone were to check, who the fuck cares?
They checked, they cared and UKIP’s descent back to being a mere political punchline was all but confirmed with the unsurprising revelation that they’d appointed a jobsworth as their leader. Nuttall had staggered on to fight the 2017 snap election but he was a beaten man long before the battle had even begun. UKIP were vanquished, Nuttall resigned (seemingly disappearing into the nothingness from which he came; legends and all) and the stage was set for Nigel, ever on call for “one last job”, to return.
Only he didn’t. Nigel kept his name decidedly out of the hat and they were forced to look elsewhere. Following a fairly fractured party election campaign, (so much so that one of the unsuccessful candidates immediately jumped ship to start her own party; a kind of UKIP for the especially deranged) Henry Bolton OBE reigned supreme. A man described by Don Farage himself as “a man of real substance”. Could Henry be ‘the one’? Become Neo to Nigel’s Morpheus – finally stabilising the party in the process?
For that’s where this increasingly circular tale of near perpetual calamity (with the odd smattering of unforeseen success) catches up with the present day – aptly punctuated by a timely scandal. A UKIP leader, still green to the role, had become embroiled in another PR nightmare of his own creation. With what little credibility he may have once had dissolving away by the minute, the ever lingering phantom of Nigel circles overhead – seemingly prepping the waiting public with hints of a potential re-animation. Where have we heard this story before?
Today’s news isn’t shocking; it’s merely part of the UKIP cycle – lurching from one slapstick episode to the next with little respite, each time having to fall back on Farage to keep their heads above water. It’s often been suspected that UKIP are a one man show and time has only served to provide evidence for the prosecution. At this moment the Bolton debacle is still ongoing and he’s remains in charge but, without any particular cause to avoid destabilisation for, it seemed his days are already numbered.
What happens next remains to be seen but expect a predictable path to be followed, in turn serving to further highlight the increasingly laughable notion of a future for UKIP. Whilst it’s undeniable that UKIP are a somewhat more potent proposition when fronted by Farage their dependence on him seems certain to be their undoing. They’re mired within a high stakes game of Pontoon yet find themselves hindered at every interval when they’re inexplicably dealt a joker with every second deal. It’s not just that they’re struggling to replace Farage, they simply can’t. The party rose to prominence with Nigel at the helm with his colleagues relegated to background extras in the recollection of the general public – hardly an environment within which a potential successor can thrive. Above all, it’s Nigel who, whilst not bringing respectability, at least brought some sense of feasibility to the cause; not least with his apparently permanent residence on the nation’s television screens getting the message heard.
Alas, it’s with a certain irony that the man who established them will also be their undoing. Without Nigel there’s no feasibility and without feasibility the enthusiasm among its members is destined to fade away – finally bringing an end to this miserable and misguided tale of attempted populist upheaval.
Not that the UKIP lion gives a shit. He’s foreign.