Monday 23 January 2017

The baying enforced optimism mob

British people have a tendency to point at the absurdity of American politics and exclaim stuff like "phew, at least we're not as bad as that" in order to make ourselves feel better about our own corrupt and malfunctioning political system.

Sometimes we have a point. Even the archaic and desperately unrepresentative Westminster voting system probably couldn't result in the candidate who lost the election by 3 million votes becoming our political leader (although in 1951 Churchill got 230,000 fewer votes than Attlee and somehow won the election), and Theresa May's press team have yet come out with anything quite as bonkers as "alternative facts".

In other ways the British system is even more crackers than the American system. Take Theresa May's appallingly invasive Snoopers' Charter, the likes of which simply couldn't happen (legally) in America because the American public are technically protected from this kind of invasive state interference by the US Constitution.

Another example of a kind of madness that is peculiar to the British is the enforced optimism about Brexit. Anyone raising doubts or questions about the glories of Brexit is now routinely shouted down, told to "shut up" and derided as a "Remoaner", "traitor", "sore loser", "whinger" and all manner of other Brexiter insults and character attacks by a baying mob of furious Brexit fanatics.

Of all of the insults hurled by the enforced optimism crowd "Remoaner" is  by far the most lacking in self-awareness. Brexit only came about because anti-European campaigners relentlessly moaned about Europe for 40 years, then immediately after they got what they wanted, anyone who raises concerns of any kind about the conduct of Tory Brexit is suddenly guilty of the heinous crime of "moaning"!

It doesn't seem to matter a jot to the enforced optimism crowd that Theresa May has outlined a savagely right-wing Tory interpretation of Brexit that is almost certain to end up isolating the UK from our 27 former European allies.

Attempting to cherry pick access to the Single Market for favoured corporations (Theresa May specifically mentioned banking and vehicle manufacturing for these special favours in her woeful Brexit speech) is spectacularly unlikely to work, because no sane club would ever allow departing members to cherry-pick themselves a better deal than the deal offered to the actual remaining fee-paying members.

Theresa May's over-optimistic cherry-picking strategy looks bad enough in its own right, but it looks even worse when backed up with the threat that "we'll turn ourselves into a bargain basement corporate tax haven if you don't give us what we want, and then you'll be sorry".

Thus Tory Brexit is clearly going to be a lose-lose situation for ordinary British businesses and citizens. Either we get a country that is even more rigged in favour of major corporations than it is now (they get to benefit from Single Market access while the rest of us are locked out and have to pay tariffs), or we end up in a corporate tax haven dystopia where public services and infrastructure are slashed away at even more than they already have been in order to cover the cost of bribing multinational corporations to locate here.
Don't dare to point this out though, or you're certain to be furiously denounced as a "Remoner" or even a "traitor" by the enforced optimism mob.

Another indicator of this delusional enforced optimism is all of the ludicrous talk of rushing through trade deals with other countries. 

Theresa May pinned her hopes on the prospect of a quickfire trade deal with Trump's America in her Brexit speech as if the Trump administration are going to just hand Britain a wonderfully beneficial deal instead of putting our diplomatically isolated country into a half-nelson and demanding as many benefits for American corporations as possible in return for a face-saving deal for Theresa May to crow about.

Imagine the delusional levels of optimism necessary to imagine that the socialist NHS principle of providing care on the basis of need, rather than the ability to pay for it would survive a Tory-Trump trade deal.

Aside from the US and EU (our biggest trading partners by miles) talk of other trade deals is delusional nonsense too. We have obvious cultural links with countries like New Zealand, South Africa and India, but we export twice as much to tiny Belgium as all three combined, so they're hardly likely to rescue us if Theresa May succeeds in erecting a vast trade barrier between Britain and the continent.

As for China; who could forget Chinese State Media slamming Brexit as a display of a "losing mindset" and Chinese experts laughing off the fantasy of a quickfire China trade deal with estimates that such a deal would likely take a team of 500 British diplomats ten years to make?

Cartoon credit: Kevin Kallaugher
The enforced optimism crowd keep telling us that Brexit represents a wonderful opportunity for Britain to draw up brilliant new trade deals all over the world, but the geopolitical reality is a lot more sobering.

Britain has put itself in an extraordinary position of diplomatic weakness, because every potential trade deal partner will know perfectly well that we need them more than they need us, and will therefore be looking to extract as many favours and bribes as possible in return for signing our hastily cobbled-together trade deals.

What is even more worrying than the delusionally over-optimistic interpretations of the Tory Brexit shambles is the way that all of this fantastical nonsense is ruthlessly enforced by a baying mob of furious Brexiters, who see any efforts to doubt or question the Tory handling of Brexit as completely unacceptable attempts to snatch away their beloved Brexit utopia.

Us Brits can continue to laugh and sneer at Donald Trump and the farcical state of American politics if we like, but the goings on closer to home are just as ludicrous. The Tories and their chums in the right-wing press are busy concocting bizarre Orwellian narratives (Theresa May and the party of wealth and privilege are the anti-establishment rebellion! The bullies are the victims! Our weakness is our strength!) and millions of people are soaking up these counter-factual stories and then mindlessly regurgitating them as if they're their own well-considered political opinions rather than painfully obvious drivel they've just obsorbed through the process of mental osmosis.

Let's be honest with ourselves: With the farcical shit-parade of Tory Brexit going on, we don't really occupy sneering-at-others territory do we?

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