A political lament

I want simply to explain why I view the looming European Parliament elections with a mix of frustration, anger, and sadness.

With the European Parliamentary elections looming, I thought I might venture into the world of politics. Please do not reach automatically for the off switch. This is not a party political broadcast. I gave these up a long time ago, recognising as I do Shaw’s wise advice about people’s differing tastes. I want simply to explain why I view these elections with a mix of frustration, anger, and sadness.

My frustration and anger are easy to justify. Thanks to the UK’s poisonous decision to support Brexit in 2016, as a Scot I am denied any access to European elections, despite the fact that Scotland voted decisively to remain. The sadness comes from the fact that I am unashamedly and unrepentantly pro-European, reflecting perhaps my pride in the fact that Scotland has been an integral player in Europe for centuries – a subject to which I would like to return in greater depth when space permits.

The UK’s problems with the EU go back a long, long way. Back in 1955 a minister from the British Foreign Office (one can only hope he was a junior minister) once attended as an observer a meeting not very far from Malta. Rather haughtily he told those actively taking part: “if you continue meeting you will not agree. Even if you agree, nothing will result. Even if something results, it will be a disaster.”  I do not know what special Valhalla exists for half-witted politicians but surely this one is spinning in his grave in it. For the meeting he was attending was the Messina Conference of 1955 where, in that small Sicilian town, was the gathering of the political leaders from the six founding countries who decided to launch the European Economic Communities – that initiative which has now grown into the European Union. Some no agreement! Some no result! Some disaster!

Meeting of the six member states of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in the Messina Conference, from 1st to 3rd June 1955 – Jan Willem Beyen (Netherlands), Gaetano Martino (Italy), Joseph Bech (Luxembourg), Antoine Pinay (France), Walter Hallstein (Germany), and Paul-Henri Spaak (Belgium).

Mind you, the UK actually attended this meeting, even if only as observers. Messina was the culmination of a process begun several years earlier when those European giants Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman first conceived the idea of a European coal and steel community. Britain declined to pay any attention to that project. One might usefully ask where Britain’s coal and steel industries are now.

These feelings were heightened this week, on Monday 25th March, when I read a letter in the Daily Telegraph; the Daily Telegraph no less, the acknowledged public relations broadsheet for the Conservative Party. The letter read, “I now realise what a terrible mistake I made in voting for Brexit. Europe is leaving us behind and we are just a sad remnant of a once Great Britain. Our politicians should bow their heads in shame.” It is signed by an engineer and farmer living in Southwest Scotland.

Well said, Sir – correct but too tardy. You are, of course, dead right, but where the hell were your critical faculties eight years ago when you allowed yourself to be conned by a campaign based on disinformation and downright lies, fueled by prejudice and open racism by these selfsame dishonest politicians you now think should be ashamed of themselves?

Of course, they should. But they won’t. Eight years after the Brexit vote, despite the ever increasing evidence that it has all gone belly up, they have continued unabashed along the primrose path that leads to perdition. Just the other day, it emerged that the Portsmouth port authorities are planning to demolish a brand new services and office complex in the middle of their facilities. It is a new building, costing over 24 million pounds (that’s 28 million euros in real money). It lies empty, it has never been used, and it never will be used. The reason: it was built specifically to process all the complicated and interminable paperwork and administration needed to regulate goods moving between the EU and the Brexit UK. The only  problem is that the deal set up by Boris-bloody-Johnson is so ill thought-out, so inept, so incompetent, that they cannot find officials capable of understanding it, let alone implementing it. So it has been decided simply to ignore Mr Johnson’s agreement and the building is now totally redundant.

The new border control post in Portsmouth.

Remember, Boris, the muppet buffoon, sold his deal to the British public as “oven ready”. Half-baked would be more accurate. However, I do not think the building should be demolished: it should be retained, called the Johnson Farage Folly, and given new life as a training centre for not particularly competent clowns.

Brexit was the notion of a bunch of politically immature public schoolboys who got their upper class underwear into a knot over their highly individual perception of British sovereignty – whatever that means in a modern global world. It’s been eight years since they won the vote, so it’s only fair to ask what they’ve actually achieved.

So far it’s been primarily the destruction of their own Conservative Party. Since the Brexit vote, the political process they set in motion has now ruined the careers of no fewer than four Tory Prime Ministers (mind you, at least two of them deserved everything they got). With a UK general election inevitable some time in the next few months, the Conservatives are facing what their own, their very own Daily Telegraph warns will be “an extinction event”. Some polls are forecasting that the Tories, who currently hold some 340-odd seats – I cannot be precise with sackings and resignations happening almost daily the figures do change – might be lucky to reach 100 seats after the election. The problem they face is further emphasised by the extent of the so-called rat run. Of the current 340 MPs, over 60 have made it clear they will not be standing again.That’s an almost 20% desertion from the sinking ship, and it includes one former Prime Minister, quite a few former Cabinet junior ministers, and a whole host of previously reliable party stalwarts.

You would think they would have got the message by now. But no, the ship of state sails serenely on straight for the rocks. “Quem Juppiter vult perdere, dementat prius” (whom God would destroy, he first sends mad) – James Duport (1606-1679).

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