It’s lucky nothing important is going on in Britain right now. Nothing like leaving the biggest trading block in the entire world with no plan of what to do next. Nothing like with record numbers of homeless people and rough sleepers. Nothing like a major funding crisis across state schools. Nothing like a criminal underfunding of the NHS. Nothing like an epidemic in knife crime, just as youth and probation services lurk from one disaster to another and, just to make things worse, police numbers have been cut to the bone. We must somehow have imagined all this. Except that we haven’t. It’s for real. Meanwhile, politicians, who have just been awarded big pay increases remind us every single day why they are so despised by the lumpen proletariat; that’s you and me.
There are many of examples of what we political observers will know as taking the piss. How about DWP secretary Amber Rudd referring to Dianne Abbott as ‘coloured’? This is straight from the Bernard Manning playbook. Wouldn’t hopeless, incompetent and patronising be better and less prejudiced? Northern Ireland secretary Karen Bradley announces that deaths called by soldiers in Northern Ireland could never be counted as crimes because, well because they were soldiers. Defence secretary Gavin ‘Private Pike’ Williamson declares he will call in the military to deal with knife crime. A few low bombing raids in certain areas should do the trick. We are, apparently, supposed to look up to these people. And the attorney general Geoffrey Cox goes to Brussels to tell EU negotiators that the Northern Ireland backstop, which Britain specifically asked for, in the exact form in which it appears in Theresa May’s pitiful EU withdrawal bill, could potentially breach human rights and we now have to amend it, although we have no clue as to how.
I maintain that there are many MPs, possibly the majority on the backbenches, who are in politics for the right reasons. Okay, that’s a guess on my part, based upon experience and anecdote. That includes some who actually made it to the top or near it. There are too many, particularly the ones we see on telly, who appear to bear little or no relation to people who are supposed to be representing people in parliament.
In a time of national crisis, what do you make of the astonishing revelation that a Conservative MP bet Theresa May’s PPS that she couldn’t get the PM to say “simples” in the House of Commons? And guess what? May said exactly that. As part of a bet. In a country where a million people used food banks in the last year. Where parents are having to buy basic equipment for their children’s schools. Where people are stabbing each other to death. And just for a laugh, May says “simples”. I like ‘bants’ as much as the next man or woman. But isn’t there a time and a place?
I usually defend our parliamentary system to the hilt. Democracy is normally better than dictatorship. I’d rather have people elected to serve us in parliament than have some mad military dictator in number ten. But what happens when it all goes wrong, and both main parties are led by political inadequates and their respective top teams could not organise a piss up in a brewery between them? I would feel a complete fool defending parliament today.
Don’t, for one moment, imagine that everyone feels the same way about politicians as I do. God knows, enough people have parroted nonsensical cliches like ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and ‘leave means leave’, without having the first idea of what they are talking about. Enough people in our green and not as pleasant as it used to be land believe every word our politicians tell them. But plenty do. Why else would we be pulling up the drawbridge to Europe? It’s worse than we think. Not only are our best worst and most cynical politicians behaving appallingly, large swathes of the population take them at face value.
For the prime minister, Theresa May, it appears to be a bit of a laugh, “simples”. There can surely be no doubt that she is the worst prime minister in our history and she will surely retain that dishonour for the unforeseeable future unless, of course, she is succeeded by Jeremy Corbyn and then all bets are off.
My vision of a post Brexit world is not so much the immediate collapse of British civilisation, more a long, perhaps indefinite decline as our infrastructure crumbles, inequality continues to grow as the rich get richer and the poor get abandoned and we gradually lose whatever standing we have left in the world, which given our current level of behaviour is not much.
And the solution? I don’t think there is one. We’ve made our bed and now we are going to have to lie in it. Simples, as someone said.