Saturday, November 22, 2014

On Countering The Ukip Cri-de-Colon

This ludicrous nonsense - a Labour MP forced to resign after tweeting a photo of a van and a flag - has been in the post for a long, long time.

It's been closing in with every chin-stroking pronouncement that we must all respect the Very Real Concerns of people who just plain don't like foreigners.  It's been coming with every instance of the party responding to attacks from the Mail with apologetic press releases, rather than just telling the paper to fuck right off.

Every unchallenged Question Time assertion that people aren't allowed to talk about the topics that they are themselves talking about on national television at that very moment. Every word from the party's self-appointed detectors of the legitimate feelings of thick-headed bellends. 

All of it has been leading to precisely this point, at which politicians explicitly talking about sending them back are seen as engaging in respectable conjecture, and posting a picture on the internet is a sackable offence.

The current hard-right insurgency, confected storm of slapstick idiocy as it is, poses a genuinely urgent question for the UK.  That question is:

Are we a nation of self-pitying, cowardly, bullying, whining little bigots?

By pandering in the manner that they have this last decade, the Labour Party is answering - Yes. Yes we are.

I can't stress enough how insane and counterproductive this position is.  The political calculus here isn't difficult or controversial.  There's far more at stake than just the next election result, however big a stinker it could be. 

Bluntly, Ukip are going to fail, and fail catastrophically.  It's inevitable - failure is baked into the party's pastry as surely as malevolent eccentricity is.  Maybe Britain will leave the EU and maybe it won't; maybe we'll close the borders and fence ourselves in with barbed wire, Doberman pinschers and machine gun nests, or maybe we won't.

Whatever happens, we're still going to be the imperfect and resentful multicultural society that we are.  There are still going to be lots of people speaking funny languages on the buses and we're still going to be bedevilled by crime and antisocial teenagers.  The UK is not going to sit still and behave, just because e.g. a Kipper-Tory coalition tells it to.

When that realisation dawns on the nation's permanently pissed-off fruitcakes, they're going to demand a new set of even crazier policies and, thanks to the way our political class and our press operates, they'll get it.  And that movement will be much, much worse than this one. 

Ukip is a by-product of Britain's toxic media culture, which is itself an outrage-fed conveyor belt of utterly meaningless, inane wank, existing solely to convert public credulity into cash.  It'll have no trouble assimilating the total failure of this particular uprising and welding together a bandwagon of even nastier nutters whenever the mood takes it.

The people who joyfully consume this churning slurry of celebrity tits and fake victimhood can't be bought off with meaner, more small-minded politics.  Labour's current strategy of appeasing indignant ignorance with nods and smiles won't work, simply because you can't outflank mad xenophobic cranks to the right, ever.  The type of person who finds e.g. Farage appealing isn't going to be swayed by a series of PR men feeding them weak versions of the hardcore substances that they can get elsewhere.  

Here's a basic and inconvenient truth for you - people who like Ukip are telling you, as loud as they can, that they are very impressed by vicious ignorance.  People who are wowed by viciousness aren't ever going to be amenable to Labour's obsequious pandering.  They find it revolting, and rightly so.  There's a reason why Smithers is nobody's favourite Simpsons character.

And even if this tactic did work, it'd still be a terrible idea.  You're not helping people by encouraging them to have confidence in demonstrably wrong and insane beliefs.

You're not respecting them if you're pretending not to find them and their views repellent, when you do.  You show people respect through honesty, not indulgence.  It's vastly more respectful to Ukip voters to call them a shower of deranged fuckwits to their faces, than it is to pretend that they aren't deranged fuckwits. 

Encouraging idiots isn't good for the rest of us either.  Even if pandering to viciousness worked, you'd be actively inflicting the psychoses and neuroses of a minority on the rest of us, regardless of who we vote for.

I'm not a Labour party member and I'm unsure how many times I've ticked the box for them over the years.  I'm not really the joining type, if you catch my drift.

But if the party has any attachment to its founding principles, now is the time to cut out the simpering, bum-licking attitude toward the witless hysteria that's stinking up entire tracts of the country.  It can't work, it's insulting to everyone and it's guaranteed to leave Britain significantly worse off than just telling Ukip voters to stick their Very Real Concerns up their Very Ignorant Arses would.

It is, in short, time to send a message to people who are considering voting for Farage's clown-car full of zoomers, and that message should be - fuck you.

And I know there are plenty of people reading this who will say, but FR, if we do that, then we'll lose the election.  

To which I can only say, if you're not prepared to defend what are supposedly your defining principles for fear of losing just one election, you might as well pack up the whole party and leave politics to the bigots.  It'd be a sad day but by God, it'd be an eye-opener for everyone.   

Sunday, November 02, 2014

"Oor Broken Politics"

The really sad thing here is that Alex Salmond is probably correct - Scotland probably is in for at least a generation of poisonously stupid, hyper-partisan politics.

The Scottish Parliament had a good, long run at doing what it was intended to do - keep the NHS ticking over, empty the bins, scrutinise legislation, keep the law up-to-date and so on and so forth. For more than ten years, MSPs toiled away doing all the dull but necessary work to keep the buses running and suchlike that theoretically, we all want them to do.

It was stupendously boring, of course, because emptying the bins is boring, and it was certainly never perfect or glamorous.  It's difficult to stoke high drama out of yearly audits of NHS trusts etcetera, because it's almost impossible to turn them into ferocious toe-to-toe confrontations with the Satanic forces of opposition bastardry.  It was a small politics of small people, which you would think might befit a small nation. 

But politicians quietly and effectively managing the nation's affairs clearly wasn't enough for us.  Where was the nerve-jangling tension?  Many of us clearly wanted more excitement and engagement. 

Italy has exciting politics.  The United States is filled with people who are very, very engaged indeed.  Very little of value gets done by either nation's ruling class, of course, because there's little time for getting the bins emptied when all parties are so busy sharpening their wedge issues.

And clearly and unambiguously, this is what many of us have long wanted for Scotland, and now we'll have it.  Where once there were tedious committee meetings on civil law reform, we shall now have nonsense declarations in defence of public services that everyone understands are not actually threatened.  Where once there were slow, soporific sessions on the budgetary implications of whatever, we shall now have relentless, boiling accusations of treason and villainy.
It took us around fifteen years to get to this point, and I'd advise you to keep this moment in mind. Years down the line, when we're all whining about our broken political system and complaining about negative, attack-only politics, we may come to realise that this was the moment that we voluntarily and gladly chose to adopt it. 

Ten years from now, let's not have any whingeing about how our politicians filled our national assembly with super-partisan nonsense about nothing.  All they're doing is selling a poor product to the public, and it's us that's buying it.

We're in charge, remember.   If we've decided that what we want is flag-waving, throat-slitting wedge issue stupidity then by God, we are all going to get it, good and hard.