This is our truth, tell us yours
I’ve stayed out of the debate about Europe. It’s a pig wrestle, and, like all pig wrestles, everyone ends up covered in shit but the pigs are quite happy with that.
The emerging consensus is that every participant in the debate so far has exaggerated, misstated or distorted key facts and figures in order to make their case.
Right now a wise politician would be taking a step back from the pig wrestle and asking themselves what’s being achieved, and would be taking a look west at the USA.
In a political climate where every politician is equally distrusted the hard road is claiming that you are different, that you are actually trustworthy. The easy road, the Trump Boulevard if you like, is to claim that actually, you too are untrustworthy, but you will pander to the emotions of the voters, and do anything to get elected. Authenticity is acquired by being brash and honest about being the lowest common denominator, angry, hyperbolic, and contemptuous of others.
Into the political debate in the UK emerges Tony Blair, a man who now must know that his reputation will be shaped, for ever, by the Chilcott report. He has no interest in appealing to the left, because Iraq will not be forgiven or forgotten, so he’s intent on re-badging himself as a centrist. The point about Blair, that links him to Trump, is that Blair’s solutions were always authoritarian rather than enabling. The Blair years were the years when, more than ever before, government’s response to every social problem was new legislation enabling ever more creative sanctions upon those who did not fit in. Anti social behaviour orders were one such innovation; sexual offences prevention orders another. The point is that the trend to authoritarian government, which began with impeccably democratic leaders like Thatcher and Blair, provides an easy alibi for a British equivalent of Trump, who might use the awful agonies of the European pigwrestle as a springboard for a new party.
The history of new parties in England is not a history of success. New regional and national parties, however, have been successful, in both Scotland and Wales. Labour is being stalked, from within, by a coterie of post-Blairites who see English nationalism as a potent route back to power in Westminster. However, a key change that makes the circumstances for a new authoritarian centre or right of centre party possible is the collapse of the pretence of principle that is being precipitated by the tenor of the Euro debate.
Simply put, by making the debate about Europe so dishonest, the estalished parties are creating the ground in which a new party could flourish. That insurgency would not be attractive; it would be more likely to take the Trump route than any other.