Thursday, 8 June 2017

Days of National Humiliation

"It's not the despair, Laura. I can stand the despair. It's the hope." Clockwise
It's not really though, is it? As I write this the polls are still open, but the Conservatives don't appear to be breaking a sweat and the odd engagements I've had with Tory voters on twitter have given me very clear hints why Blair and co. thought it was such a good idea to rename the party: for so many in Britain the very word "Labour" is bafflingly, deafeningly toxic. Back at Tory HQ meanwhile, and following the example of Trump, the Conservatives have learnt that the best way to win at Democracy - as with Global Thermonuclear War - is simply not to play. Instead, attack human rights as enablers of terrorism, attack the judiciary as "enemies of the people", and, fuck it, attack the very principle of opposition as a tedious attempt to "frustrate the will of the people". I almost included attack the media as discredited pests, but of course both sides have done their share of that, with the odd honorable exception:

And Christ, that clip was hard to find! Googling "Corbyn defends press" gets you three pages of Corbyn attacking the press instead. Someone should write a strongly worded letter to Google's offices, that'll fix it. I am voting Labour, you might not be surprised to read. I've even made the odd campaign contribution, but I actually left the party almost a year ago after it backed Brexit. Watching Corbyn's performance during this campaign however, I get it now: voting is sacred to him. That's why he never stood down having won that vote, why he backs Brexit, why he rebelled so often while voting as a backbencher while producing such a coherent manifesto, and why he refuses to consider any further "deal-making" to form a coalition. He has clearly always believed that a vote is a genuine expression of the self, and that a democracy must honour those expressions. Well, good for him I suppose. It's proved a pretty strong platform this past month. And we'll see. But the attempts at uniting a country have come and gone. Even the campaign slogan "For The Many, Not the Few" foreshadows a little too strongly some incoming civil war, and only the Right benefits from division. As I'm sure I wrote elsewhere, although I can't find that now either, I've always preferred the motto of the London Olympics' Opening Ceremony:

And I remember John Oliver once made this observation about the elections in Egypt: "Under a dictatorship you get used to a dictator kicking you in the balls. Under a democracy you have to get used to half your own population kicking you in the balls." I'm not sure it's google-able, you'll just have to take my word for it. I'm still in Frankfurt. I only know what happens on social media. I think my friend Gemma's in Stratford now. She's making a show about the Civil War. She's been researching it for years. Fun fact: one of Oliver Cromwell's big ideas once he came to power was to replace Holidays with "Days of National Humiliation". Nobody thought there'd be a civil war before then either, she told me. Sides just became too entrenched.

"Oh well..." a sign in Frankfurt.


  1. Bleak, but eloquent ... thank you for writing it and sharing. It's a good read to fill the silence in the eye of the storm.

  2. I've been wrong before.

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