I know you all, and will awhile uphold
The unyoked humour of your idleness:
Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That, when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wonder’d at,
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
Of vapours that did seem to strangle him. (PRINCE HAL: 1 Henry IV. I.ii)
I’d love to ascribe these lines to our leaders, but I reserve them for myself today …
It’s been – yet another – incredible, dispiriting day for those of us who are interested in politics. Those in charge of ‘Brexit‘ have betrayed themselves as mendacious at best, disorganised, or idealogically, almost criminally, reckless at worst. Whilst we seem to want to rekindle ‘The Troubles’ in Ireland, in other news, Donald Trump seems to want to add spice to the Middle East crisis, to distract attention from the mess he’s making of his own country.
‘will uphold awhile’?
That ‘awhile‘ needs to end.
SOMEONE MUST STEP UP NOW.
I understand that Labour don’t want to inherit this almighty Brexit mess, but they have to …
As a nation, we are becoming a laughing-stock, and the echoes of that could last a long, long time.
This royal throne of kings, this scepter’d isle […]
Is now leased out, I die pronouncing it (KING RICHARD: Richard II II.i)
We inherit the sins of our fathers in the UK; we’re a nation that everyone would like to give a good kicking to (just watch our football internationals – we’ve not won anything for 50+ years, but people still want to beat us), and some might think that fair enough. Our hands are not clean. But vengeance is not the same as equality, we know that by now, and vengeance is what we are inviting now.
More worryingly, in the short term, the country seems more divided than ever.
Most of us live in our self-affirming social-media bubbles, and when we venture out of them, there is no forum for intelligent, reasonable debate – it all descends into tribalism and vicious hate. Logic and facts are set aside because they are less effective than vitriol and threats when you are dealing with people who think and act viscerally. The ultimate irony is that we live in an age where information has never been freer, and so many of us choose not to access it.
We have a traditional media that mostly (at least numbers-wise, and as far as their owners allow) supports the state. Our Public Service Broadcaster is being bullied into impartiality towards the ruling party, who hold the purse strings. Sections of the media, amongst others, are quick to label the judiciary as ‘enemies of the people’, undermining that crucial check and balance against the destruction of democracy. Their raison d’être is to point out convenient scapegoats and conduct dog-whistle campaigns on behalf of their masters, who then sell this influence to the highest bidder. Has anything changed since the days of the Tudors and Walsingham‘s fabricated campaigns againts various ‘plotters’? Remarkably little.
The armed forces and the police are chronically underfunded. The population still trust the former; less so the latter (I make no mention of the NHS or our tortured public services as a whole).
Our democratic process is fundamentally broken. Even if we take ‘the will of the people’ as a fact, and it isn’t, being less than 50% of the available vote, the entire UK is being held to ransom by the ideologies and interests of people representing less than 1% of the eligible electorate.
And the gaps between rich and poor grow ever wider. History should have taught the rich that there is a breaking point, but history also suggests that it has to be reached before any correction takes place.
If we’ve ever needed a strong political opposition in the last 50 years or so, it’s probably now. Because the consequences of people feeling there is no legal, peaceful alternative might be grim … Shakespeare shows us that in Titus, Romeo & Juliet and variously elsewhere.
Maybe it’s time to begin seriously exploring citizenship of other nations? I’m looking at how to qualify for a Spanish passport …