Right now, the UK reminds me so much of that old cliché of “A dead man walking”. The strangest thing about it is that there’s no secret, we have many people recording the final stages, the terminal decline but no-one who can hear the death rattles is paying the slightest bit of attention.
I first started to really consider that its end was nigh when I read “How Britain Ends” by Gavin Esler with its descriptions of institutional decay throughout the British “Establishment”. I was encouraged by his conclusion that of course Scotland would become Independent although he believes that the driving force will not be our movement so much as England’s inability to give a damn about anything except themselves.
It’s not so much that an Englishman’s home is his castle as the hole in which his head is well and truly buried. Up to his oxters in complacency and self-satisfaction. Strangely enough this ties into the self-harm of Brexit. Built on the shifting sands of Question Time’s obsession with Farage and amplifying the siren voices crying “the world needs us more than we need them”..
As the evidence piles up that Brexit was an exercise is self-harm the blame, as always, is placed at the door of Brussels or the US or anyone in fact except the people who peddled the snake oil and the numpties who swallowed it. Because in all of this the English cannot accept that they really were stupid enough to believe Farage, Gove, Johnston etc, they still buy and believe the Express, Mail, Telegraph and Sun. They still actually believe that the BBC is impartial! It is everyone’s fault except ours!
I was gifted at Christmas copies of Labour MP Chris Bryant’s book “Code of Conduct” and Ian Dunt’s “How Westminster Works and why it doesn’t”. Both are well worth a read and if you want to do so please get a copy from your local library if only to encourage Councils to keep them open. It also means that it is then available for others to read as well.
Dunt’s book would be worth reading if only for the excellent Introduction which details one of the gross incompetences of Chris Grayling as a Minister and the subsequent failures of the Civil Service, media and Parliament to stop the disasters of ill-considered policy and the undoubted harm done to people because of their failures and incompetence. They paint a graphic picture of a system with in-built obsolescence.
These books are not intended to be comfort for those of us who see Westminster as the mother of all madhouses but they are. Neither Bryant nor Dunt really consider the effects of Westminster on Scotland, Wales or N Ireland, (we barely rate mention at all), but they serve to highlight time and again that Westminster is failing, day in, day out, and even it’s supporters know that it’s failing but no-one is listening and no-one wants to do anything about it.
They highlight the failings of each part of the structure from candidate selection, the Party disciplines, Ministers who rarely know anything about the Department they are supposed to Head and lead. And by the time they have begun to understand, they are moved, be it promoted, sacked or resign in disgrace.
What actually is an MPs job? Are they glorified Social Workers who should be in their constituency most of their time and put their constituent’ s interests first? Are they in Parliament to scrutinise legislation and hold Government to account? If they become Ministers, who’s doing the first two jobs? All 3 are full-time jobs if done properly but all three cannot be done properly at the same time. And that’s without adding in Party, campaigning work or family time.
This is resulting in a widespread contempt of MPs, Parliament and Government. People complain that no-one is listening to them or attending to their needs, that MPs “are all the same”,” just in it for the money” and people are in so many ways correct to do so. Cash for Questions and scandalous expenses anyone? Both Bryant and Dunt give numerous examples.
And it’s all built on the sand of a failing and unrepresentative voting system. Westminster has a voting system where once in place a semi competent MP should stay in office as long as they want. In 2010 just 117 out of 650 seats changed hands, in 2015 only 111, in 2017 only 70 and in 2019 only 79. An example is that the seat represented by Chris Grayling had not changed hands since 1874
To return to Gavin Esler, he says that the UK will end, not because of the demand for Independence but because of English indifference to the Union. Personally, I don’t really care, just so long as it does it sooner rather than later.