All of a sudden there has been an explosion of positions on the infamous subject of Brexit. I suppose some of this is to do with Party Conference positioning but there is also clear evidence that the dire state of British politics is - at last - beginning to galvanise something of a more structured response to the crises that confront the country.
We’ve observed the rantings displayed during the Labour Conference last week and now we have the up and coming Conservative bash starting tomorrow. Neither party is in good shape. Whilst the Labour camp seem to have a good measure of popular support it is also evident that the average Labour voter (if there is any such thing as an ‘average’ voter) has next to no grasp about what a new Corbyn government would introduce. This is the apparent verdict of recent polls - and whilst we should always regard these to have dubious value - it does give an insight into the level of knowledge that the electorate has about what it votes for. In the poll I read about, the example quoted was that the majority of true Labour traditionalists interviewed had never heard of John McDonnell or about any of his aspirational policies in any future government. If that is true, it is frightening given the catalogue of nationalisation measures he revealed to the besotted audience. Let’s take it with a pinch of salt and arbitrarily reduce ‘majority’ to, say, 40%. Even at that level it is an appalling vision of how a Marxist government could easily become a reality in this country. That alone fills me with dread.
But let’s switch the gaze onto the Conservatives. Frankly, they portray just as much frightening incompetence as do the Labour hopefuls. With the PM refusing to acknowledge any other way forward on Brexit than her own Chequers Plan we see a weak leader wholly absorbed by her own importance and afraid to look at other ways. Her colleagues face the dilemma of wanting to oust her but are afraid to do so lest it precipitates an election - which most think they will lose by any measure of current performance. What a way to run a government - “Let’s stick with what we’ve got because if we don’t, we’ll all be out of a job by Christmas !”. It’s an incredible image of self interest, arrogance and fear, of complete bewilderment, of total cluelessness. The time to replace the PM is now upon us, and likewise replace the negative doomsayers who fawningly crowd around her, and this needs to happen soon, before the EU convenes later in October so that a true British front can be put in to bat on this crucial deal. If Boris or Jacob are ready (I specifically exclude the toad’ish and unreliable Gove), I’d guess that the thinking British public are also ready. Carpe diem, gentlemen.
Kavanaugh has scraped through his trial by ordeal on his nomination to the US Supreme Court, albeit with a deferment of nomination approval whilst the FBI fiddle around on the subject of his alleged sexual harassment with a number of accusers. It raises the thought that any politician subjected to close personal scrutiny by the media will fail to pass the range of tests set by those who position themselves as the arbiters of modern values. Whilst I don’t think much of Kavanaugh’s merit for such an important US government role, it is hard to see how any nominee can undergo such invasive poking into their lives that won’t in some way expose something from the past that doesn’t pass the ‘worthiness test’. We are creating a goldfish bowl to put these people in with an expectation that they will be purer than pure. The reality, of course, is that we all have a skeleton or two in the cupboard - some more serious in nature than others - but we have created the vision of governance by honest and honourable people who are additionally skilled and overflowing with integrity. Nobody can truly fit this imaginary picture, and indeed, we should be sceptical about governance by saints. That, I fancy, might be just as distasteful as having governance by the flawed. Perhaps the biggest problem in all this is the trial by media element - the court of public approval. It may be the modern way but I doubt it throws up either the best candidates or those with the most integrity. Only in Trumpland ? Possibly, though what happens in the US tends to be emulated by others...
I read a newspaper article yesterday about how we punish ourselves by erasing sinners from history. An interesting article on how we treat those in the public eye should they disgrace themselves in some way. Whilst this article was mainly about Kevin Spacey and his erasure from the public eye, it additionally reminded me of the clarion calls to remove statues of notable figures in history because of modern views upon what they did umpteen centuries ago. History is history. It happened and we are the product of that history. Denying the role of notables in the making of history is to deny where we come from and is a foolish endeavour at every level. Most of the benefits that protesters enjoy in this world - not least freedom - derive from what those historical figures achieved. It may not suit trendy, modern thinking, but it is nevertheless the fact of it.