Friday, 1 April 2016
Port Talbot shows that the system isn't working
Opinion is divided on whether the EU stands in the way of supporting the steel industry. I don't think it does. If there was the political will, we would find a way. Everybody else does. As to whether we should is another matter. Those questions are explored by Sam Hooper in this very worthwhile piece.
But then Paul Mason has it that our political elites won't act simply because "they do not give a shit", citing the lack of a coherent industrial strategy. This has caused some degree of clucking from the Tories - but Mason is not entirely unjustified. There is no real coherence from our ruling class. They blunder from one crisis to the next, doing whatever feels good without any regard to the wider consequences and never taking responsibility for their actions.
You don't have to be Adam Smith to work out that imposing suicidal renewable targets on the energy sector would have consequences. The utopian fantasies of a de-carbonised economy have overridden all good sense, with politicians clambering over each other to make ever more stringent requirements to prove their right-on credentials.
While it may have been EU level agreements giving rise to the Large Combustion Plant Directive, and other insane measures, it is our own MPs who couldn't restrain their narcissism in committing economic suicide, despite multiple warnings. If ever you wanted an example of how the bubble mentality takes hold this is it. Now they are learning that you can have useless renewable energy or heavy industry - but not both.
While we can say the lack of an independent trade policy has in some way contributed to this overall decline, make no mistake, it is our own MPs who have done this to us. They are only too happy to nod through unachievable targets and white elephants like Carbon Capture and the Severn tidal lagoon - with absolutely zero regard to the fallout of making our energy more expensive and less reliable.
This points to how debased political culture has become inside Westminster where we seem utterly incapable of integrated policy-making, with everything giving way to to the childish fantasies of virtue signalling moronic MPs - chasing every issue illiterate fad as they go.
This is why we cannot simply rest at leaving the EU. Returning power to Westminster is insufficient. They have shown no greater competence and shown themselves to be no more trustworthy. We cannot leave the power in their hands.
The same people now demanding Port Talbot be rescued by the state are the same who blithely passed the Climate Change Act - which does nothing at all to reduce global emissions. At best it exports our last remaining heavy industry to those places where there are no controls over real pollution - where heavy metals are pumped out into rivers with zero regard to the real ecological consequences. They are incapable of joined up thinking.
This is why we need direct democracy. What we have seen from the EU referendum debate is that there are far more detailed and informed conversations happening between ordinary people than among our MPs, most of whom live in a disconnected bubble where ideas from outside are wilfully excluded. There is a distortion of logic within the establishment where political vanity wins out over good sense every single time. There are no checks and balances.
There is nothing to prevent them imposing their acts of economic vandalism on us - and they will abandon us all to the consequences - with nobody ever taking responsibility. The whole of Westminster is beset by a disease and we continue to pay the price for their arrogance. It doesn't matter whether they step in and save Port Talbot. It will be one more sticking plaster in a long line of remedial emergency measures to address problems they created. And in so doing will likely store up more for the future.
The question we must now ask is whether we can afford the luxury of having a debased political system where nobody is ever held to account and the people have no real power. Unless there is a radical shake-up of our decision making process, they will continue to eviscerate our key industries, sacrificing strategic national assets on the altar of globalisation without a second thought.
In this we have only one opportunity to change course. That is to leave the EU. It is the only catalyst that will set real change in motion. It will cause a radical shake up of domestic governance and expose the inadequacies of Westminster in ways a general election will not. It will spark a chain reaction. Only that will put us back on course. Otherwise we're stuck with the status quo and your next choice will be Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn. Two sides of the same corroded coin.
What we need is a change of political culture. We won't get that by staying in the EU. Our continued membership of the EU is the linchpin to the present orthodoxy. The Remain camp is right in that Brexit will cause uncertainty. But it is time for uncertainty, because all the existing settlement can offer us is managed decline. And not even well managed decline. They say it is a gamble with our future. It is. It is a gamble for our survival.
We can either be a de-industrialised, de-skilled, import dependent province of a greater EU or we can be a real nation. If we choose the latter we will need to go all the way. We will have to take the power away from Westminster and put it back in the hands of the people. We must change the relationship between the people and their government. For far too long they have been dictating to us without us having the power to stop them. We can change the people every five years but the system rumbles on unchallenged.
This is why in June we have a golden opportunity for a real revolution in governance. Brexit is not the solution to our problems, but it is the first step in a long journey toward real democracy and nothing else is going to cut it. A vote to remain in the EU is a vote to keep things exactly as they are. I don't think we can afford it.
Should we vote to remain in the EU, this vote is the last time your vote is ever going to matter. A victory for Remain is a mandate for things to go on as before. That spells the death of democracy. Vote to leave.