Quite what someone who agrees with Tory values is doing writing op-eds in The Grauniad is a little mysterious, but he does make some good points.
Brexit has summoned the very worst demons that lurk in the Conservative psyche, liberating Tories to bellow nonsense about the second world war, the blitz spirit and pseudo-Churchillian defiance. It has fatally compounded the party’s demented fixation with immigration and distracted it from the true challenges of the 21st century.
Parliament used to be the crucible of the Conservative ethos: the place where history met contemporary discourse. Now, we have MP Jacob Rees-Mogg – a man still spoken of by supposedly serious colleagues as a leadership contender – urging Theresa May to suspend the legislature if it seeks to thwart a no-deal Brexit.
In the cabinet, we have the trade secretary, Liam Fox, saying that government can be the servant of the people or the servant of parliament, but it cannot be both. A chilling populism is now creeping into the language of mainstream Toryism: the language of treachery, snarling tribalism and impatience with anything that smacks of prudence, compromise or caution. In the Conservative stockade, emotion has toppled fact.
I am far from convinced the modern Conservative party was ever driven by intellect or consideration of facts, but some Conservative individual politicians surely have been. Ted Heath springs to mind. Even David Cameron before he lost his marbles over Brexit. Most Tories today ceaselessly witter on about how unhinged socialists are about wanting a welfare state, free education and medical care for all, and a redistribution of wealth from the vastly wealthy to the poor. I don’t see what’s wrong with those aspects of socialism. They claim socialist can’t see facts.
Well, it’s screamingly obvious that a lot of Tories can’t see facts, like the economic divide between rich and poor that is tearing the country asunder. It’s not like the wealthy can’t afford to pay a greater share of taxes. They just hate doing it to help anyone else. They’d pay taxes to fund the military to protect their assets, but only if the poor pay at similar rates. Tories just don’t get it.
They prefer to focus on anti-immigration, because that’s where the far right vote of bigots is, bigots resentful of a few people who speak English as a second language. This is emotion speaking, not facts. The fact is, not that Tories are aware of facts these day, that Britain has benefited enormously from immigration and EU membership. The immigration of talent has greatly expanded our horizons economically and socially. We have more international political clout as a member of the EU than we would as a solitary little monarchy.
The EU made Britain better, but all the Tories want to focus on is emotional and nationalistic blather about how wonderful it was when Britain was an Empire. The Rees-Moggs don’t get it that those days have gone and are never coming back. They are wallowing in shortsighted nostalgia and refusing to dealt with the reality that Britain is actually in.
Labour is bad, no doubt about it, and it’s tragic that the two main parties have nothing whatever hopeful to off the electorate. But the Tories/ Phew!