Brexit: A Zero-sum Game

I’m in the ‘path of least resistance’ camp. The UK’s rotten, rotting and outdated mode of governance has proven it’s not up to making decisions that are in the country’s best interests. Our politicians are incompetents. Stuck in adversarial nonsense land – when the decisions that need to be made require consensus-building and high-level negotiation skills.

FFS the folk that have been negotiating on our behalf are zero-summists. They’ve supped at Trump’s table and think ‘The Art of the Deal’ is where it’s at. They’d rather cut off their testicles than ‘compromise’ – rather die than shift their position and think about interests (other than their own of course).

And ‘no deal’ is where the path of least resistance takes us. All it requires is more of the same: nae vision; nae leadership; nae ability to agree or discuss or strike a bargain – though a veritable surfeit of lying, conniving arseholery is mandatory.

I fear the future and I am angry with the system that has brought us to this.

A poisonous right wing media has – for decades now! – drip fed a national diet of ‘immigration bad’ and whipped up such a completely irrational, evidence-free hatred for the EU. An anti-democratic first-past-the-post electoral system which produces a completely useless and anti-democratic two-party adversarial parliamentary ‘winner-takes-all’ system now – paradoxically – has us in a state of executive paralysis. And then there’s the rise and rise of a blood and soil English nationalism that will be the downfall of the whole house.

English nationalism is a peculiar cratur. It’s the bloody stunted misshapen child of  a Westminster that gave Northern Ireland and Wales and Scotland a positive conduit for expressions of national identity – but which short-changed the English by arrogantly conflating England with Britain. The reasoning proceeding thus: the English and England don’t need a devolved government! they’ve got Westminster! Westminster IS English!

The need for systemic change was my sole reason for voting Yes in the Scottish Independence Referendum. And that reason has only gone and got itself bigger and stronger.

I’m fully aware that attitude surveys produce remarkably similar results for Scotland and England – and yet in Scotland we consistently vote for left of centre parties. Maybe the survey designers need to think more carefully about the way in which they frame questions and select options.

I am fully aware of the challenges that independence would herald. Not least, borders and currency and trade deals – which become even more pressing issues if England is out of Europe with a no deal and Scotland wishes to re-join its continental family.

I am also aware that there are some dark forces mustering. Fascistic. Populist. Authoritarian. And they already have purchase with the Brexit crew; the angry folk who feel that they have lost their country and who hanker for the mythical days of golden yore.

Politics and politicians, the leaders of our civic society – they have all failed us.

In Scotland, Labour became the establishment – and the usual accompanying establishment nepotism and small-scale corruption and complacency brought them down. The expectation of continuing power and the sense of political entitlement,  bred a generation of representatives who hadn’t a clue how to debate or argue – and gave us a great many who hadn’t a scooby why they were Labour at all.

And the complacency bred a curious political illiteracy. Like folk forgot to care about politics – because things were ok-ish for the majority; because politicians seemed increasingly irrelevant or worse, corrupt (expenses scandal); because expectations became so low.

When the collapse came for Labour – and it was always going to come – we ended up with the New Labour-lite SNP. Because folk were wanting a change – but no that much of a change that they didn’t recognise the political language or feel safe with their representatives.

Devolution has created increasing divergence between the nations of the dis-UK, though. Nowhere more obvious than the Brexit vote, with two thirds of the Scottish electorate voting remain. That’s two-thirds – remember – of an electorate that pollsters tell us isn’t any different in terms of ‘attitudes’ than England or rUK (sorry pollsters – you really do need to try harder).

The difference is in political rhetoric. Plus even the Daily Mail isn’t quite as rabid (it’s still rabid!) in its Scottish incarnation as it is ‘down there’.

I didn’t agree with Tam Dalziel and the anti-devolutionists ‘back then’ – but I firmly believe, now, that devolution will lead to independence. Perhaps not in my lifetime – though if there’s a soft Brexit then the arguments in favour of independence become stronger and may well hasten the break up of the union.

Brexit and ‘no deal’?

Yes, well, I think they’ll deliver up dissolution too – via a cultural, social, economic and political conflagration. A right wing ‘bonfire of the vanities’.

No deal will deal the death blow to our two party system. But don’t expect electoral and parliamentary reform to follow hot on the heels of their demise. Don’t expect an automatic shift to liberal and progressive politics.


Expect the rise of the far right and its chaos and demagoguery.

Expect and prepare for a battle – for progressive values; for Popper’s paradoxical tolerance; for an open and welcoming society; for a welfare state and workers’ rights.

Prepare to fight for all of this – fight that is, if you hold these things dear.

3 thoughts on “Brexit: A Zero-sum Game

  1. Well you could never be accused of being peely-wally in your views and I see that you haven’t changed one little bit. If I had written this post it would have sounded as if it had been written by a retired bureaucrat. The reason? Because it would have been written by a retired bureaucrat. However there is little in the substance that I would have changed. Well said. And may The Fates have mercy upon us.

    • It’s scary stuff at the moment… I’m not sure I was prepared for these ‘living through history’ moments…! But thanks for the comment GB – which feels very much like praise to me 😀 x

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