Monday, 4 July 2016

Nigel Farage's legacies

So Nigel Farage has resigned as UKIP leader again, and this time it's unlikely he'll be breaking his word by returning one week later.

Washing his hands of the mess he made

In his resignation statement he said "I have decided to stand aside as leader of Ukip. The victory for the leave side in the referendum means that my political ambition has been achieved" before going on to have a sly dig at the politicians who will have to stick around and clear up his mess by calling them "career politicians". Justifying his unwillingness to stick around and see through the monumental change he campaigned so tirelessly for by having a populist dig at those who will be actually be left dealing with the consequences is yet another measure of the despicable character of the man.

Anyone who thinks that Farage's parting rant at the EU wasn't an shameful national embarrassment clearly knows nothing about Britain's proud record of international diplomacy, nor gives a damn about the fact that the people Farage was insulting are the very people who Britain will have to negotiate with over the next few years to work out what the post-Brexit settlement between the UK and the EU is actually going to be. 

Slinging a load of insults at the people you are going to have to negotiate with looks like a spectacularly counter-productive strategy, unless of course you're planning to wash your hands of the whole affair and leave others with the awkward task of negotiating with the people you just pissed off .

This is the beginning, not the end of it

The idea that the referendum vote for Brexit is the "be all and end all" of the whole thing rather then the beginning of a very complicated process is an utterly bizarre, yet widespread delusion. 

Just witness the way so many Brexit voters leave furious "sore loser" and "get over it already" type comments when people are trying to discuss the likely future consequences of Britain's haphazard departure from the EU, as if the vote for Brexit was the end of the affair rather than the beginning of it!

Before the referendum people like me argued that Brexit would be a viable proposition for consideration if the likes of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson had actually bothered to come up with any kind of coherent plan for how the post-Brexit UK economy should be restructured, but without such a plan, a vote for Brexit would be a vote for unpredictable chaos.

"Fearmongerer" shrieked the Brexiters every time we tried to point out that the Leave campaign was based on anti-immigration hysteria, uncosted and hopelessly unrealistic spending pledges, naive wishful thinking and outright lies, and that above all, that they had no real plan for what comes next.

Now it's becoming increasingly clear to everyone that there was no great plan after all.

The post-Brexit chaos

In the aftermath of Brexit the reality is beginning to sink in. David Cameron resigned because he didn't want to be the one to press the economic self-destruct button by submitting the Article 50 notification. He damned well should have done because he was the one who decided to gamble the entire future of the UK in return for a bit of short-term party political advantage at the 2015 General Election, but he didn't.

The majority of Labour MPs then decided to wash their hands of responsibility for clearing up the Brexit mess by focusing their attention on a ridiculously ill-timed coup attempt against their own leader instead of concentrating on the infinitely more important task of explaining what the Labour Party policy would be for reducing the social and economic insecurities caused by Brexit might be.

Boris Johnson was the next to wash his hands of the whole Brexit thing by refusing to stand in the Tory leadership election, leaving a field of five staggeringly unappealing candidates (is Jeremy Corbyn really that much more inherently "unelectable" than that disgusting bunch?).

Now Nigel Farage has washed his hands of the whole affair too.

A hard-right Tory future

Given the way the majority of Labour MPs decided to commit collective suicide rather than attempt to outline any sensible policies for dealing with Brexit (something that Corbyn and McDonnell have admirably tried to do despite the pre-planned anti-democratic internal rebellion going on behind their backs), it's pretty much clear that whoever wins the Tory leadership election is going to be the one to determine what form Brexit actually takes.

Whether it's the terrifyingly right-wing authoritarian Theresa May (who wants to scrap your human rights and replace them with a set of Tory allowances), the uber-Thatcherite anti-intellectual Michael Gove (the man who handed £billions worth of publicly owned schools over, for free, to unaccountable private sector interests) or an outsider like the dark horse Andrea Leadsom (who seems the most likely winner to me because she's far less smeared in shit than the other four candidates), Farage's legacy is going to be the Toryfication of Britain.

Nigel Farage's legacy

Enabling the Tory party to set about restructuring the UK far more comprehensively than Margaret Thatcher could ever have dreamed of is quite some achievement for a Thatcher-worshipping ex-Tory activist like Nigel Farage. I always maintained that UKIP was a Tory Trojan Horse political party designed to hoover up the votes of the dissatisfied and under-informed in order to deliver even more of the Thatcherite economic madness that is the actual cause of most of the social and economic problems faced by deprived communities across the UK.

Aside from giving a disgusting bunch of right-wingers who were too corrupt, incompetent or downright bigoted even for the Tory party (Neil Hamilton, Janice Atkinson, Bill Etheridge, David Silvester ...) a way back into mainstream politics, Farage's other main political legacy looks set to be the restructuring of the UK economy, constitution, legal system, foreign relations and society in general in line with the hard-right ideology of whichever of the five universally unappealing candidates ends up winning the Tory party leadership.

As for the party Farage fronted for so many years, whoever succeeds him as the leader of UKIP will have a hard task on their hands holding the party together when the actual reason for their existence has disappeared. However, whatever remains of UKIP looks certain to be an utterly toxic force in British politics which will continue to soak up the dissent of the communities most badly hit by hard-right Tory economics in order to drag the Tory party ever further rightwards.

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