Thursday, 14 April 2016
Brexit is our chance to kick over their anthill
I've been trying to imagine what happens if we stay in the EU. And then I cast my mind back to the last few years. Most of the big Westminster stories have been to do with the pay, perks, expenses and taxes of MPs. It seems we devote more and more political runtime to the affairs of politicians rather than the actual business of politics - increasing prosperity and growth, preventing floods, improving schools, improving trade and helping our fellow citizens.
For sure we've had big rows about immigration, welfare and education and the perennial bickering about the NHS - but what actually changes? We all know the direction the NHS is going in. We're going to end up paying more into the NHS budget than ever, it's going to have ever more private involvement, and yet for some reason, we will still have to pay for some of it at point of need. And despite what any government says, they're not in control of it - and neither are we the people.
As to welfare, we've seen a lot of tinkering in what can only really be called "creative destruction", some of which I approve of, and some of which now looks like a bureaucratic mess with very real and devastating consequences on people's lives. But these are not changes anybody really asked for. They were announced. Things that can wreck entire communities in Yorkshire are announced by London without anybody having a real say in it.
Meanwhile, for all the labour rights we supposedly have form the EU, I don't think we have better protections now. We are seeing the uberfication of jobs. Zero hours contracts for the plebs and unstable rolling contracts that stop engineers and managers getting mortgages. For all the encoded rights, if the bosses want rid of you, you're gone. Redundancy pay is just something council workers get. Your rights are only as strong as the solicitor you can afford. Good luck with that.
And then there's the banks. If you've fallen foul of the County Court system, you are a second class citizen. There's no home ownership for you. There's no piece of the British dream for you. Cash rich, but asset poor. You don't plan for retirement because you just don't see retirement as an option. And speaking of the County Court system, what a joke that is. Where any parasite corporate can put a mark against your name for the most spurious reasons over contracts you never signed - and try appealing. Good luck with that.
I'm well aware of this ongoing debate about baby boomers versus moaning millennials, as to who has it the toughest, but for all the material wealth of our generation the message directed at the young is "You've got your fancy iphones, what more do you want?". Say what you want about modernity, but I can't think of a time where citizens have had less influence in what goes on around them. I know few people my age who have a genuine stake in society.
And all the while we have these furious debates about everything under the sun, anybody who wants a reformed, fairer system is slapped down with a torrent of statistics and we're always told that this or that measure will only reduce x by y so let's not enact that policy. Everybody is looking for the big policy hit that solves everything all at once. But it's small increments that get things fixed. But since nobody wants to bite the bullet, nothing is ever really fixed. We have our arguments and then we move on to the next political fad.
Meanwhile politics has degenerated. It doesn't seem to matter what politicians achieve so long as Westminster mirrors the physical attributes of the public - the colour of the skin, gender or whatever. As though I am somehow represented because there is someone who has my skin tone and my same genitals. Apparently that's what a representative House of Commons is. But I'm not represented. None of my ideas are spoken of. None of my aspirations are addressed. There's nothing in politics for me.
We have a Conservative party that isn't conservative, Labour haven't really learned anything and have no radical ideas to get things moving. Ukip is just a long winded complaint about everything and the SNP is just not a party of government. There's nobody I can vote for. More to the point, a vote is a vote of confidence in a system that shows no sign of reforming itself. If anything it's getting worse. It's becoming more self-obsessed, more narcissistic and more parochial than ever.
They talk about radical policy making, but these people wouldn't know radical if they saw it. The best they can muster is timid tinkering, and that's all that's really within their power. They freeze out all outsiders, and if they do adopt an idea, by the time it gets as far as the commons, what's left is watered down to thin gruel. Everything is beset by a political yellow streak a mile wide.
Even this referendum has show-up the so-called radicals to be utterly without principle and without courage. When it comes to the crunch they fall into line to protect the orthodoxy and defend the status quo. And they will tell any lie to do it, manipulating their useful idiot supporters.
And this is really why I am afraid of staying in the EU. It's not what will change. It's what won't. If we vote to stay in the EU everything will stay exactly the same and my future is an insecure job somewhere with zero hope of retirement, zero security, zero stake in society and no possibility of change. I'll have no-one to vote for, no real care for what happens in Westminster, because the levers of power aren't attached to anything. My future is living month to month, keeping my trap shut and trying not to get fired.
Perhaps this is self-entitled whingeing from a loser. You might be right. I have fucked up more than a few things in my lifetime. But I think we are headed into a society where there are no second chances, no means to pull yourself back up, and if you fall below a certain line, that is where you'll stay. You certainly won't convince me we have any democracy to speak of. We need change.
For the next ten weeks they will be screaming at us that Brexit will cause uncertainty. I really hope it does - because the certainty on offer could not be more depressing. One where politics continues on its slow decline, where politics of substance doesn't get a look in. Where Whitehall remains untouched and everything continues as before. Where all the policy-making is constrained by targets set by narcissistic politicians. Nothing happens without being measured against what is allowed by this or that directive or regulation. Meanwhile, your job is only one trade deal away from being exported by some Portuguese eurocrat.
They say Brexit is for those who have nothing to lose. As it happens, materially, I have everything I could possibly want. And when I go back to 9-5 living, being the good, obedient little serf I'm supposed to be, not taking an interest in politics like all the rest of my generation, I maybe could scratch out a tolerable existence - but like everything else in modern Britain, it is spiritually bereft; to simply resign oneself to being among cattle, managed by "evidence based policy" cooked up by some snot-nosed, clean cut trustafarian brat in an EU funded social think tank. God forbid anybody might have ideas about maybe running their own affairs.
They will promise us change if we stay in the EU. Right now Corbyn is probably off somewhere making a speech about how we can have a socialist utopia if only we vote to Remain. They will promise EU reforms are on the way, like they have for the last three decades. But it doesn't work like that. Politics and government never reforms without an external impetus.
They will never kick over their own anthills. They will kick over everyone else's, but never their own. And that's why Brexit is such a golden opportunity. It is our one and only chance to kick over their anthill and force them to rebuild it the way we say. If we don't, neither the EU or Westminster governments will reform. Everything will stay as it is until everything breaks and nothing works, meanwhile they come after us to take everything we have. Because it's always us who pays for their mistakes.