Bernie, Jeremy and the Social-Democratic comeback.

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If, like me, you are some combination of English, American and left-wing you may be noticing a strange phenomenon.  It manifests itself in think pieces from trendy blogs and news websites alike expressing a bemused interest in an aging white dude, first elected to office in the middle of neoliberalism’s rise to power from a constituency renowned for its population of gay communist radical marxist etc, surging forward into the polls ahead of his nearest rival:the clearly more competent half of a married couple that spent the 1990s pushing the idea that the only way for the political left to go was the middle. Whilst yes the British side of this equation is in the latter stages with leadership voting for the Labour party starting tomorrow, I do think the fact that these two ostensibly fringe candidates are in the running to lead their parties speaks to something broader; to wit, the breakdown of ‘the third way.’

A Quick aside: The phrase, ‘The Third Way’, was coined in the mid 1990s to describe the political re-orientation of the Democratic and Labour parties’ leadership to the political right at the end of the 1980s in response to being politically broken by forces of Reaganomics and Thatcherism. It’s generally characterized by viewing a deregulated, hedge-fund dominated, financially lopsided market as the natural state of industrialized societies; the two-generation-long post-war consensus in the western world about tripartite social democracy being an aberration brought on by feelings of comradery during the 1940s and amphetamines in the 1960s.

Because Social-Darwinism is the apparent natural state of society the best thing lefties can do is make sure as many poor people  as possible get to be predatory with the hopes that they will rise. To this end, rather than improving workplaces or giving workers more power, social democrats should push to make this unfair world at least meritocratic. To achieve this New Labourites/Democrats have pushed for  better education so more kinds of people can get into the economic and social elite, (this is why Tony Blair’s priorities where famously “education, education, education“) all this whilst subsidizing the inevitable underclass this creates until they adjust…. somehow.

BELFAST, -: (FILES) US President Bill Clinton (L) is introduced by British Prime Minister Tony Blair during a ground-breaking ceremony for Springvale Educational Village in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Blair was showered with praise and also a few brickbats 10 May 2007 as he announced his 10 years in power would end June 27, but even his opponents conceded he is a "formidable" politician. Blair was praised for his role in bringing peace to Northern Ireland but condemned for taking Britain into a divisive war in Iraq, while his domestic policies drew mixed feelings from both inside and outside his Labour Party. AFP PHOTO Joyce NALTCHAYAN (Photo credit should read JOYCE NALTCHAYAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Don’t blame me, I was never eligible to vote for either of them

I was born in 1989, meaning my generation grew up in a world where this was the norm: neoliberalism was not just ascendant, it was the only possible option. Unions, we were told, are historical entities, any left over will die with their members. So Called “left-wing” leaders like Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Gordon Brown and Barack Obama told us again and again, that they would love to create government work programs and widen social security nets or improve access to healthcare if only the semi-mythical super-majority of conservative voters would let them. Throughout the last 30 years the wisdom of left-wing politics has been that to win, Social democrats must trick Conservatives (who definitely outnumber everyone else and always will) into voting for left-wing parties by pretending to be them, bending to the rich and powerful whilst slipping social reforms into the package.

This is why the rise of Sanders and Corbyn is seen as a confusing aberration. As societies, the UK and US have drifted so far to the political right that Bernie and Jez managed to get to the positions they’re in because a series of political operators viewed their politics as simply impossible. Jeremy Corbyn made it into the leadership race, in part, by Blairites nominating him to be a left-wing foil for Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham to prove how sensible and electable they are. Bernie Sanders has never been seen as a political threat by anyone in D.C. so there is no serious anti-Sanders narrative; if he is talked of in a negative light, that light focuses on the fact that he’s an irrelevant curmudgeon. The liberal left along with the conservative right have spent so much time thinking of ‘Socialism’ as something aging miners sing about whilst actual, sensible political actors warn the rest of us about with poorly thought out signs.

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This is mainstream…. apparently

 The crowds and genuine excitement surrounding both these old white dudes has to be the result of a nearly 3 decade long deprivation of an actual left-wing candidate being seen as even sort of viable in the English-speaking world. The fact that they’re both old WASP-y men speaks to the level of attrition women and people of colour face in the political arena, particularly when they’re left of center. Consider Barack Obama’s swing to the right on the military and healthcare policy all the while pretending he didn’t support gay marriage until 2012. Social democracy has been in the wilderness for so long that the only proponents of it left are the most milk-toast, white bread variety of social democrat. It’s hard to imagine Hillary Clinton have an event shut down by civil rights activists and, after consulting with those activists, hiring someone from the activists’ campaign and not have that reflected negatively on her gender. So far the only person to call Sanders out for doing this is Donald Trump, meaning “Bernie Sanders is weak” is on the same level as ‘all Mexicans are rapists’ and ‘putting your name on everything is something that well adjusted adults do.’

I don’t seriously think that Jeremy or Bernie will win their upcoming battles for leadership of the party. Even if Corbyn was to win this month, I doubt the popular power of the social democratic left would be enough to have red flags flying over both the White house and Downing Street by 2020. I do however think that the fact that these two figures are drawing huge crowds at the same time in similar political cultures does suggest if not a seismic change then the turning of a corner. My generation have spent our entire adult lives being beaten over the head with the negative consequences of neoliberalism and lopsided economics. My hope is not that President Sanders or Prime minister Corbyn will change the tax code a little bit to bring forth full communism. Rather, by fighting these elections and denting the twenty-first century consensus about the end of history and the natural state of unfettered capitalism these two survivors of the post-war consensus could remind us that one doesn’t necessarily have to be cynical to be successful.

For real though, they're slightly more right wing than these guys

They’re about as left wing as these guys, calm down


Embrace the Chaos. Reasons to get excited about May 7th.

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Currently living in America makes it a challenge to follow the general election happening in my homeland in anything close to real-time. Apart from living in a relatively self involved continent which has its own electoral obsessions, not being able to read every paper or watch and listen to as many media outlets as possible has meant I have a time-delay on debates, policy announcements and anything interesting. This means I end up boring American friends who have no real personal investment in this election, assuming that my excitement and interest is just because I happen to come from there. Whilst this is true, this election is looking to be very different and objectively exciting (if you’re not from the UK please watch this ever so slightly patronizing guide to our electoral system by the BBC).

The overwhelming probability  of this upcoming election is that no one will win an overwhelming majority. This, David Cameron and the conservative party have insinuated that this will lead to a chaotic political landscape and that this will be a bad thing. I will contest that the only way anything will ever change for the better in the UK will be a period of political  chaos forcing the hand of political actors toward structural change.

If nothing especially exciting happens in the next three weeks the parliamentary dynamics of the UK are probably going to look something like this:

With thanks to fivethirtyeight.com

With thanks to fivethirtyeight.com

To do some brief electoral maths; Whilst the Conservatives would be the largest party by six seats the fact that the SNP-Plaid Cymru Westminster alliance has explicitly stated they would support a Labour government vote-by-vote brings a potential voting block of 322; 4 votes short of an overall majority which, once you take Sinn Fein’s almost certain absenteeism into account that block becomes 1 vote short. Add this to potential SDLP and the Green Party support if properly bought with the right legislation would make a potential voting majority of 326. This is as opposed to the a potential Conservative led coalition comprising the Liberal Democrats, the DUP, UKIP and the UUP, which using probable results adds up to around 317. Meaning that despite leading the largest party David Cameron is unlikely to get back into Downing Street. Whilst this isn’t uncommon in other European countries this has literally never happened in the history of British politics.

It was a desire to avoid this exact scenario that lead Nick Clegg and David Cameron to come together last time around. The prospect of a ‘constitutional crisis‘ looms in the background of this election, (for the benefit of foreigners I should point out that we don’t have one of those fancy written constitutions, we have a long series of precedent and statute, making the idea of a ‘constitution’ in British politics much more abstract and fluid than the average state) this is all made more ‘dire’ by the existence of the fixed parliament act. This act, introduced in 2011 ended 400ish years of executive privilege to call elections at will. This means that whatever combination of MPs we end up with on May 8th – barring some kind of mass resignation – will stay there, more or less, until 2020. This means that, if the result currently projected are slightly different, or the various parties decide to organise themselves into different combinations or – for some reason – no one wants to work with anyone initially; we cannot simply have another election if no one gets along, they have to get along. This will force the all to long ignored issue of Britain’s antiquated parliamentary system, meaning we will actually have to reform instead of holding an ill-informed, half-hearted referendum about one aspect of the system, we will have to reform almost everything. If you’re a reform minded Briton I recommend you hope for this result, as the last time anyone had both the mandate and the power to reform anything in the UK; Tony Blair made the house of lords less hereditary and called it a day. Sadly as a people, we don’t tend to change anything unless we absolutely have to. Incidentally, a parliamentary free for all would have the added benefit of making the Daily Telegraph reading contingent of Parliament fluster with rage as the fact that they’re the largest single party lies flaccid in the face of a progressive anti-tory coalition.

I think that face would be worth the parliamentary chaos.

I think that face would be worth the parliamentary chaos.

That by the way is a worst case scenario. I mentioned what I think is the best case scenario in a previous blog post; That being a progressive, Celtic orientated coalition. This could ultimately change, not simply the austerity driven policies of the last five years but the balance of power in the United Kingdom as a whole. Whilst the way we send MPs to Westminster may not change at all, autonomy to the nations and regions are exponentially more likely to increase with the SNP and Plaid Cymru selling support to a Minority Labour Government. Whatever the combination of MPs the UK wakes up with on May 8th; I believe we have in front of us, gradual move to normalizing coalition governments or a chaotic parliamentary flux that will ultimately lead to a better form of government. Either way, I recommend we all embrace the chaos; it will certainly be interesting.

Addendum: Around ten hours after writing this, Sinn Fein did something they haven’t done for about a century and decided to actively participate in this general election, bringing the number of seats needed back up to 326 and putting another party into the mix. 


Dear voter. An electoral wishlist from abroad.

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Dear British voter,

As you are no doubt aware you are living in a country in the throes of an electoral quagmire; one which is probably the most confusing election the UK has ever held. Unfortunately I currently live in the United States and thus my relationship with this election cycle will be one-way, involving me yelling at the world service before sending off my postal ballot to begrudgingly vote against my local MP and then continuing to be angry.

As an expat I have a few requests for this election season to make the whole process much more fun and at least a little worth it.

 

1) Stop David Cameron being Prime Minister. 

This isn’t necessarily a call to beat the Torys out of office, though these two things are interchangeable at the moment, and something I would also like to happen, I specifically hate David Cameron being the leader of my home country. This wish has nothing to do with policy it’s shit like this.

If you didn’t watch the video, David Cameron is responding to the insane claim by Fox News that Birmingham is a no go zone for non-Muslims. Whilst he has the substance of a good answer, being that the “expert” Fox used clearly knows nothing about the west Midlands. My problem is that he decided to begin this answer by referencing porridge and April fools day in the kind of clumsy, weirdly synthetic feeling way Cameron does everything. This struck a nerve because this answer was spread all over American Media, meaning this ridiculous parody of an English aristocrat took up the airwaves fixing the idea of Britain in the American mind as run by Bertie Wooster.

Say what you will about Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, they never made my skin crawl in the presence of foreigners in quite the same way Cameron does now. This isn’t just because he’s a Conservative (more on that later), David Davis; the runner up in the last Tory leadership race, doesn’t have the same weird inhuman manner the prime minister conducts himself. For all his slimy spinning Blair at least knew how to talk on camera without sounding like he was failing to convince us he was human. Please stop this man being the person who represents us as a nation, it’s sad and weird.

 

2) Make sure the Green Party end up with more seats than UKIP.

If you haven’t left the UK in the last decade or so I need to break something to you; UKIP is an embarrassing party. I live in America, where the idea of Britain as a world power died a death around the time of Suez Crisis, at this point Americans i meet and talk to are confused that there is a movement to get Britain to leave the EU gaining traction. The idea that we would then be anything other than an insignificant island that sometimes turns up on the wacky section of the news from time to time if we left is equally confusing.

The biggest embarrassment surrounding UKIP however is the fact that they’re given so much more credibility than the Green party; an organisation with more members as well as a party platform without an unhealthy obsession with people who aren’t local. I don’t even want the Green party to get that many seats, they don’t even have to get more seats than they do right now, I would just like UKIP to have at least one less seat than the Greens on May 8th. I want this because whilst it may be a minor issue the idea of Nigel Farage’s gurning face filling my T.V. screen on election night makes me sad to be English and I really would like my homeland to prove they’re not crazy by either giving the Greens more seats or taking some away from UKIP.

Smug Bastards are Smug

Smug Bastards are Smug

3) Let’s have a coalition of the Nations. 

There is a current worry being permeated through the media over the idea of the SNP having an influence over the next government. The narrative as far as i can tell goes that Ed Milliband will grant Scottish independence to get power. The way this has been manifesting has involved the Torys demanding that Labour promise not to be ‘propped up’ by the Nationalists. At time of writing whilst they haven’t quite taken the bate Labour HQ is edging toward ruling it out, I think this is a terrible idea. I honestly think that the best outcome for the UK in the long run would be a Minority Labour government beholden to the SNP and Plaid Cymru, two parties whose cores’ center around greater autonomy for the nations combined with social democracy.

Since Neil Kinnock the Labour party has had a tendency to take the left for granted and drifting to the right to gain the vote of the kind of person who reads the Times because they’re too embarrassed to read the Mail, this has been a source of frustration for many voters who have seen Labour run away from the center left the moment they get into a ministerial car. A government involving input from parties who reject the Neo-Liberal consensus would be so much more the antithesis of the aptly named ConDem government than a Labour majority government could ever be.

I’m glad the SNP have stated that they wouldn’t join the Government if asked, but enter into a vote sharing deal, this would avoid the possibility of the Nationalists being co-opted in the same way the LibDems have been. This would lead to a solidifying of the Union as having to take Nationalist votes into account will mean Ed Milliband being forced to make good on the promises for greater autonomy laid out by the ‘No’ independence campaign last year; something that will have to happen in the next parliament anyway if Scotland is to remain in the union for much longer (something I would like), so bringing in the SNP who look likely to control the majority of Scottish seats in Westminster come May 8th will mean Scotland and Scottish voters will have more influence in their own lives than ever before.  This will also mean Labour will have to extend similar options to English regions, something I don’t trust English voters to support until it’s in place. Whilst I quite like being English I’ve spent enough time amoung my fellow countrymen to know we as a nation are largely small C conservatives who won’t try anything new until it’s forced down our throats and we claim to have always been for it. I honestly think a minority Labour government with external pressure from the nationalist left will leave the UK a fairer and more democratic place than any other option this election.

The Celts might just save us all.

The Celts might just save us all.

 

4) Make spoiled ballots win a constituency or two. 

I’m ambivalent about voting. I do understand the necessity of keeping certain parties at bay but this then involves giving power to other just as unsavory parties. I do however believe in turning up to voting booths and making marks. One of my pet peeves in political discourse is the manner in which people who do not vote are dismissed as apathetic or stupid or both. I have yet to vote for anyone in a European Parliamentary election despite the fact I am both informed about and care about the European Union. A reason I love paper balloting over the electronic methodology in the US is that it’s possible to spoil ballots. If you have no interest in voting for any parties, please go to the ballot anyway, write in yourself, or a friend, draw a comedy penis or a pair of breasts, a poem, anything. If everyone who didn’t want to vote for anyone, turned up regardless and spoiled their ballots. Spoiled ballots would win removing any real legitimacy from second place. Showing the political class that people who don’t vote care about the future of the country enough to turn up and demonstrate that they would give their vote to someone if only there was someone worthy of it.

 

5) Get at least one Class War candidate their deposit back. 

For those not in the know Class war is an Anarchist organisation fielding candidates this campaign season to amplify their campaigning voice. I don’t seriously believe that Class War can or will come close to winning any seats (I don’t think Class war wants to win any seats) however the UK seems to be a country were all the parties jump to the right on immigration and race relations the minuet a Nazi gets five percent of the vote out of fear of losing out on those racist votes, so why can’t we get this to go the other way.

(PS, If you’re in Norwich North Vote for my mate, he’d be a great Anarchist MP)

 

6) Punish Nicholas William Peter Clegg.

Okay I admit this is pure id speaking, however that doesn’t stop the fact that in 2010 Nick Clegg stole my vote. I, and many people of my Generation, particularly University students voted for the Liberal Democrats that year because the party’s manifesto had stated that they would do everything in their power to end tuition fees for higher education institutions. Far from being wide-eyed and naive, the logic behind voting for Clegg’s party was that as the other two were for raising fees, thus the result of a coalition would most likely be a wash, keeping fees at their then $3,000 a year. The Smug ‘What did you expect, we’re politicians’ attitude that permeated from LibDem HQ is something that will make me hate Nick Clegg and revel in his failures until one of us is dead.

14949288_British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg arrives to attend the weekly cabinet meeting at 10

For me Clegg will always represent what is wrong with this parliamentary democracy; whilst I understand that politicians don’t have the power to change everything and anything, it’s hard to believe in anyone when the baseline reason for why they betrayed a keystone manifesto promise to shrug their shoulders and close the ministerial door, only to come out with a weak-willed apology far too late for it to possibly matter. Whilst I hadn’t been particularly sold on the idea that parliamentary democracy could work for me before 2010, Clegg’s betrayal of a large section of his voter base pushed that notion over the edge into a pit of bubbling despair with the whole thing. I don’t want Nick to loose his seat, in a perfect world I would love every Liberal Democrat except Nick Clegg to loose their seat so he was to walk into Parliament and sit at the back on his own. The idea of the Cameras lingering on him as he stares at his shoes, considering the terrible mistakes he’s made, whilst other parties do the business of government makes me feel warm inside.

 

7) Get the Torys out.

Seriously I don’t care how you do it. Labour-Liberal-SNP-DUP-Respect-Green coalition will do for me. This isn’t about specific policies or even an endorsement of Ed Milliband who will ultimately be Prime minister if the Conservative party are ousted; This is because I hate Torys. I hate them with a passion, they represent everything that is wrong with British society, they are the parliamentary manifestation of greed, bigotry and servile classism. Growing up in the 1990s and early 2000s meant I grew up in a country were members and supporters of the Conservative party were justly ashamed of themselves to the point at which there was talk of them becoming a third party.

I miss those days, I miss regarding the Torys as relics of a by gone era. I miss conservative supporters feeling embarrassed and having to explain themselves to skeptical listeners, I miss William Hague leading a redundant party with little or no influence to a slightly less devastating second place. I’ve realised this could possibly come off as wanting to persecute Torys. That’s probably because I do, I miss the days of the post war consensus when Labour politicians openly mocked and berated Conservatives for their beliefs, I want to get back to a time where the likes of Nye Bevan casually called Torys cowards and idiots whilst disparaging anyone who might consider compromising with them, and claiming the mantel of social progress that should be what the Labour party does.

Ah, the good old days

Ah, the good old days

I understand this probably says more about me than David Cameron that there is absolutely nothing Republicans can say or do that enrages me more than the pathetic bleating of the current occupant of Number 10. I however urge you, dear British voter; please find a way to end the systematic destruction and grotesque rebuilding of our society into something harder and meaner before I, and others like me have nothing familiar to come back to.

Sincerely

A concerned ex-pat


U.K.I.P. are not fascists; they’re much more worrying.

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It is fashionable among a certain kind of leftist to denounce Nigel Farage and United Kingdom Independence Party as fascists these days. It is equally fashionable among a certain kind of rightist to denounce those denunciations of UKIP as ludicrous for as no one in UKIP has (publicly) run around in black shirts Sieg Heiling everywhere. Residing as I do outside the UK and watching the upcoming election develop as it is, I think we should start talking about the fact that both those opinions are wrong, UKIP aren’t fascists; what they are is a Conservative nativist party, something that makes them unique in the history of British politics and much more dangerous than a communal garden fascist.

Britain is one of the few countries in Europe that have never elected fascists its national legislator; A major factor effecting this is historical differences in the way popular politics came about. The Conservative Party is a good example of the unique nature of Britain. Unlike it’s French and German counterparts whose founding was a response to a religious or economic need; or  just a direct response to liberal-democratic movements, the Conservative and Unionist party of Great Britain is simply the parliamentary Arm of the British Aristocracy; Though the modern party was founded in 1834 it was a restructuring of the Tory Party (why we still call them Torys) who had gained the original insult from their more liberal opponents in the 1700s, in reference to the Irish Soldiers who had fought for the Absolute Monarchy of James II in 1690, who was trying to reverse the powers Parliament had won during the English Civil war. In this sence the British Conservative party is unique in being able to draw a more or less unbroken line from Cavaliers to themselves.

Yeah that's right. I just called David Cameron & Gideon Osborne Dandies

Yeah that’s right. I just called David Cameron & Gideon Osborne Dandies

This is relevant because it’s important to note that British politics is not primarily about Ideology as much as it’s about interests. Ed Miliband is leader of the Party of Labour not the party of Social-Democrats, This has meant that parties in the UK have a wider appeal, dealing with identity and self-interest much more than ideological tenants. This has meant that the two major parties, the conservative party in particular, have historically been very good at absorbing most of their political fringe and driving what remains into political irrelevance.

This, I would argue, is behind the fact that Britain has never come close to electing fascists or indeed electing any fascists to Parliament, If we imagine politics as a sliding scale from left to right, until UKIP came along there was a genuine gap between the Conservative party and the various incarnations of British Fascism. This was because the Conservative party had been able to appeal too and lock down the demographics that typically populate a Fascist coalition; lower middle class, rural poor and the landed gentry. They have managed to do this because unlike their European counterparts, the British gentry have never been under any serious threat of destruction, and thus never fell into the kind of reactionary politics taken  on by the European ruling classes at the start of the 20th century, which is arguably why the British aristocracy is still here. This meant that the only demographic available to British fascism was working class kids disaffected with the failures and/or collaborative attitude of the trade union movement, as a result fascism in Britain has taken on a distinct working class identity; distasteful to the upper and middle classes in most cases. This is why if you’re from an English-speaking country and you think of Nazis, you think of shaved heads and football shirts rather than dueling scars and riding crops. As a result fascism in the has never really had a significant group of people who advocate for any of their ideas that – for want of a better phrase – respectable people would and will listen to with a degree of seriousness. Until now that is.

The UK Independence party, along with the Green Party are the symptom of a new kind of politics, ironically much more European in nature, ending the de-facto internal coalitions and moving toward actual coalitions of a balkanized political class. Whilst, on the one hand this has the potential for a wider, more varied political discourse. This however does mean that the kind of people whose support has been withed from fascism in Britain are now freed up to empower the political far right without the shame of being associated in the popular mind with the decedents of Oswald Mosley.  This is why organisations like Britan First and the English Defense League have been campaigning for UKIP, whatever the actual intentions of Nigel Farage, The party he leads represents the respectable end of British fascism, and need to be treated as such during the upcoming election, and beyond.

If you wanna take anything away from this - Vote Class War

If you wanna take anything away from this – Vote Class War


The Sound and the Fury: What Americans need to take from British politics

The Campaign League were nice enough to let me write all over their nice clean blog. If the idea of a funny, dickish, micro-tabloid that treats British politics like we all know it should (with a running scoreboard) appeals to you. follow this blog!

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The Sound and the Fury: What Americans need to take from British politics
The post today is not a normal Campaign League post. I asked a friend of mine to write something and here it is. Matthew is British born and now lives in America*. I write a lot about how campaigns in this country is shit, but I guess it could be worse.
maggiecabinet
Tonight at 9pm Eastern standard time (2am proper time) the president of the United states will walk into the House of Representatives and spend about an hour explaining why he, America and the way he runs America is awesome in every way. Despite the fact that various talking heads will continuously assure each other that this and everything else about America makes the United states a special democratic snowflake, the state of the union is not unique or even particularly democratic.
Being…

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Please don’t leave us. An English Ex-pat’s plea to Scotland

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With the vote getting closer, questions about the U.K. splitting up come up at least once a day to me, the resident Brit in a foreign land. I’m not begrudging the people asking because if I knew someone whose country could potentially break up I would pick their brains about it non-stop. The short answer to “Do you think Scotland will become independent” is: No.

I’m not Scottish… I mean a little bit, my dad’s family is from the borderlands around Carlisle, and, despite visiting, I’ve never lived in Scotland; the fact that I think Scottish independence is a terrible idea at this point comes from a place of concern less about Scotland and more about the rest of the U.K. I really do believe that my home country is going to get actively worse if our northern brothers and sisters leave us. This isn’t just because the resulting flag would look terrible, even though that is genuinely my main emotional reaction to the Yes Campaign. I mean just look at it, the English Flag is boring, the Scottish part makes our flag look cool. Since I’ve been talking to people about this issue, I’ve developed certain concerns that I want to bring up with Independence campaigners.

So I have a lot of sympathy with  most of the practical Goals of the S.N.P.  Apart from less Westminster domination, the general social democratic bent of the vision of the Scottish parties in general is something I wish the southern part of the island embraced. Particularly that Ospreys outnumber cconservative members of parliament is something I profoundly envy; so much so that the consistent polls showing Scottish people are consistently more satisfied with the Scottish parliament than any other part of the U.K. is with its local government makes me really hope that we’ll one day have parliaments like Holyrood in Wales, London, Cornwall and the English regions in the model of U.S. states, something I think can only happen if Scotland stays in the union. I don’t seriously think this will happen by virtue of Scotland staying in, and that isn’t my main fear regarding Scottish Independence; England and Wales will be measurably worse.

I mean.... look at it, it's terrible

I mean…. look at it. it’s terrible

I Understand that Scottish nationalist have limited interest in what happens to the English but please have some Britannic solidarity. I understand that the belief is that once you gain independence you will throw off the smug aristocratic southerners that are currently formalizing the unpleasant public school oligarchy in Westminster. You are wrong. Firstly please remember that once Scotland withdraws its fifty-nine M.P.s from the U.K. Scotland will lumber England with an inbuilt Conservative majority. Remember also that the S.N.P.’s proposal for independence includes using the British pound and keeping the Monarchy and other things that link the British ruling classes, north and south of the border whilst physically separating the rest of us. This will mean that the increasingly solidified oligarchy of parliamentarians, banking executives and media producers is still going to dominate the what will be the former UK with a weakened opponent in a divided populations. Yes the current National parties are dead against Independence but do remember that despite evidence to the contrary they are emotional beings with an emotive connection with the idea of “BRITAIN” existing despite the fact that Scotland and England will be easier to control once separated.

I’ve mentioned that English nationalism is weird and bitter, and will only get worse with the loss of Scotland. My parent’s generation are the ones who lived through the dismantling of the British Empire, a social move that resulted in the creation and popularization of the U.K. Independence Party, and other reactionary organisations, I can only imagine how ugly about right-wing England is going to get, particularly run as it will be by a series of political parties that will increasingly use begrudging Scotland as their political bread and butter.

My point, Scottish nationalists – and English people who support Independence at higher percentages than the Scottish do; is that whilst It will be initially satisfying to see David Cameron’s smug, flabby face sadly fill the screen of our T.V.s to tell us that he will go down as the British leader who was so bad the part of the country split off. That initial satisfaction will melt away as the new English government cracks down, firstly on the notion of autonomy for regions and secondly by ratcheting up pressure on Scotland, which will still be using the pound. A political situation which will mean that my homeland will become a sadder, hollower shadow of its current self.

 

PS.
If you do leave you need to take Northern Ireland with you. That whole mess is your weird step-child.

If you have a problem with that, take it up with James IV

If you have a problem with that, take it up with James VI


America only really likes you as a friend; an unpleasant wake up call for Eurosceptics

The EU and the Union flags fly outside The European Commission Representation in the United Kingdom in London

 

I have little to no interest regarding the United Kingdom’s relationship to the rest Europe, I like the bits about the E.U. everyone likes, I like the fact that I can drive from my house to the Turkey and only be recorded crossing one border, I like that my German utensils and Italian food costs as much as if they came from Kent and I quite like the E.U. Flag, It’s quite pretty – it’s no Mozambique but it’s still quite nice. I really don’t care if we have the Euro or not; I’m sure someone could explain to me the economic benefits or hindrances, but I’m not pro or anti it, it’s one of the few issues on which I remain militantly neutral.

There is something inherently depressing about this man

Another is the movement of powers from Westminster to Brussels; an apparently outrageous process in which faceless unelected bureaucrats in Belgium replace faceless unelected bureaucrats in Britain. This is supposedly terrible and something I should care about, as though prior to 1973 Britain was a veritable utopia in which the John Bull types wondered into high level government buildings for a lovely chat with the personal private secretary to the minister of health about how long junior doctors should work every day, but that now the some shifty looking Spaniards plot with the workshy French to steal our cod whilst some Germans stand around looking sinisterly at East Anglia muttering about an Anschluss to bring the Angles back to the fatherland. I can remember the introduction metric system being a cause for conflict throughout my teenage years, I never understood what the problem was; dividing everything into twelves is clumpy, and doing it in tens is easy, particularly when almost everyone else in the world uses it. I can understand people feeling nostalgic, but a measuring system is like a language, it’s only good if some other people use it too, the Imperial system in the UK is specific to us, even America has a different version of the Imperial system. I can only assume loyalty too it is rooted in bitterness over the Napoleonic wars.

They even have it in China now. Get over it

I could stand this somewhat if the people who wished to go back to living in 1935 if they accepted the irrelevance and obscurity that leaving the largest single market in the world would entail – which again, in of itself, I’m not bothered by – but they don’t. The Eurosceptic vision of a E.U.less Brtain is one prolonged, starry eyed fantasy; in which red jacketed venture capitalists heroically roam the globe trading opium and tea, whilst pining continentals beg for free trade agreements as we sail nobly into the Atlantic to form a glorious and Anglo-Saxon economic union with the United States and the commonwealth which will last a thousand years. That isn’t just me hypobolically saying what I think Eurosceptics think; I was once invited to a Conservative association function during University which was attended by the local Conservative parliamentary Candidate and the then webmaster of Conservative future’s homepage, who responded to the question;

“If we were to leave the European Union, surely we would stop punching above our weight in the world and become an increasingly irrelevant country, with higher bills to pay as the EU’s tariffs would mean we would have to pay more to trade with Europe?”

With
“I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t have similar arrangements that we now have with Europe, with the United States”

This is why I don’t like Eurosceptics; we’re not living in 1901 anymore, and far from the Atlantic striding superpower the UK undoubtedly was a century ago, we now live in a moderately sized country with much more power and influence than can reasonably maintain for a while and if – as many Eurosceptics want – you wish to increase the power and influence the UK has; it’s probably better to throw your lot in with countries in a similar position across a small stretch of water than the leviathan 3,000 miles away. They won’t give us any better deal than we have now, probably worse; at least Germany doesn’t maintain military bases in the English countryside and Sweden doesn’t require us to buy Oil in Kronas, I like the United States, but crucially i like the United States, Not; The United states and It’s appendage; Great Britain. It has no business entering into a supranational, integrationist organisation with the UK, apart form anything else we’re significantly smaller and don’t really offer much, why would the US want to integrate our two economies? To finally have the access to authentic Melton Mowbray Pork Pies they have been so desperately craving for years? Of course not, America is such a large country, there is no reason why an economic integration with them, of anything like the kind that would be needed to maintain, let alone improve the quality of life of Britons post EU, would erode everything that makes Britain, Britain, in a way some clumsy regulations regarding the size of bananas just wont do.

Creepy then, Creepy now

To give you a flavour of what American’s think of the ‘Special relationship’; my wife to be – Native of Pennsylvania – initially had no idea what the special relationship was, and when I explained this particular term to her thought for a moment then told me that she thought it ‘sounded kinda creepy, like you’re in love with us or something’. This isn’t just her being Inept, few Americans are aware that we’re supposedly their closest ally, or really want to be. I understand the British political classes like re-living our past though the Americans in various wars and maintaining Hegemony of the English speaking world, but whilst British Conservative Politicians – and the idiots who vote for them – see themselves as the Obi Wan Kenobi to America’s Luke Skywalker, guiding them to run the world in a sensible Anglo Saxon kind of way; the rest of the world see us as the creepy moister farm hand that Luke left on Tatooine because he didn’t respect Luke’s personal space and wanted to get matching tattoos so everyone would know they were betist friends. As an Englishman who deals with foreigners this is acutely embarrassing, at least Belgium get where they are in the world and have come to terms with it; bear in mind they did own the largest colony in Africa until 1960, can we please deal with the fact that we don’t own the world anymore, and find something else about us that we can project to the world, we’re home to the peasant’s revolt; the first generally successful democratic movement in a major European country; we gave the world Habeas Corpus and the Westminster System, all of which are things to be more proud of than an aging politician articulating a vague desire to fight on beyond all hope. The Mythical ‘Bulldog Spirit’ the British apparently showed in the dark days of 1940, were all well and good – but we need to get over that now, and realise that we’re not fighting the Germans any more.

I like being British, I wouldn’t say I’m proud, but I certainly like that I grew up here, but as a society we really do need to get over that we used to be an empire. There are many reasons to oppose the European Union, but all the reasons I can think of apply to opposing all governments ever – if Eurosceptics opposed the EU because they wanted power devolved to the lowest possible level I would be right alongside them, but they don’t want power for you and me, they want power for Westminster politicians; I’m all for bringing down large state apparatus, but not to embolden and further entrench marginally smaller ones; particularly ones run by people who still resent metrication.