I must confess that in recent months I have rather taken my eye of the ball when it comes to British politics. Quite frankly, I have found American politics more interesting and a lot of what I see this side of the Pond seems comparatively boring and the politicians rather disappointing. Yet this is my country and I want what is best for it, and part of that is to positively comment on the issues of the day. Even so, I survey UK political life with a degree of despondency.
A couple of days ago, I reflected on “Brexit: EU repeal bill wins first Commons vote”, and this was preceded by an intense debate. It got me thinking, while there are many issues to consider and on all sorts of subjects, what post-Brexit Britain looks like is going to dominate a lot of political debate for a some time to come: “The government’s bid to extract the UK from EU law in time for Brexit has passed its first parliamentary test. MPs backed the EU Withdrawal Bill by 326 votes to 290 despite critics warning that it represented a “power grab” by ministers. The bill, which will end the supremacy of EU law in the UK, now moves onto its next parliamentary stage. Ministers sought to reassure MPs by considering calls for safeguards over their use of new powers. Prime Minister Theresa May welcomed the Commons vote in the early hours of Tuesday morning, saying the bill offered “certainty and clarity” – but Labour described it as an “affront to parliamentary democracy”. Seven Labour MPs defied Jeremy Corbyn’s order to oppose the bill – Ronnie Campbell, Frank Field, Kate Hoey, Kelvin Hopkins, John Mann, Dennis Skinner and Graham Stringer. No Conservatives voted against it. Having cleared the second reading stage, the bill will now face more attempts to change it with MPs, including several senior Conservative backbenchers, publishing a proposed 157 amendments, covering 59 pages. …”
Readers can work out for themselves where I stand politically by reading my blogs. I have been accused by some of being “Alt right” and yet on certain issues I reckon I am more left wing than many Labourites. But overall, no party and few politicians excite me and as such I can make some claim to being an independently minded “neutral”. The days when I could have filled in a matrix scoring issues against party’s position on those issues and seeing which one scored highest overall has long gone, even though I might recommend this approach to the next generation of wannabe politicians, who could do good by being politically involved.
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since the snap election back in June, along with its surprising outcome, and yet in my estimation not changing all that much the political landscape since then. It is not easy to pick winners and losers. While Conservatives remain in power, it is only just and thanks to Northern Ireland’s DUP, the only clear winner in the process by virtue of getting concessions as the price to pay for their support. Labour did better than expected but they still lost. The leftward drive with Corbyn consolidating power and Momentum flexing its muscles in local constituencies, such as my own, seems to continue. The Greens have about held their own but seems a long way still from gaining significant power. The Lib Dems have lost their way, but one wonders if it can be a phoenix rising from the ashes. And that is so for UKIP too – with internal strife and having secured Brexit, will they ever be a force again? Looking outside England, the SNP have had their wings clipped and now need to re-group to succeed.
Arguably, the need (probably not quite the right word) for a progressive, left political force is satisfied with this seeming change in direction in Labour as well as by Greens. That there is a need is reflected by the concerns over social justice matters raised by several of my leftie social media friends. But what about (for want of a better word) something to fill the gap that UKIP appears to have vacated, something we have seen in the USA when Donald Trump was returned as President by his popularist support base. Can the British equivalent trust the Conservatives to deliver on a satisfactory Brexit outcome; will they tackle concerns over immigration and islamification; will they reverse the globalist tendency and help restore national pride; will we see more politically correct “nonsense” running roughshod over “traditional beliefs”?
All this remains to be seen. While the status quo stands, my guess is with earth shattering events unfolding it won’t be for that long. I suspect the Brexit outcome will disappoint many who voted leave the EU and there will be trouble on the streets due to radical elements and people fed up that British identity looks set to continue to be eroded and globalism to hold sway. All this suggests to me that something will be needed to fill the gap demanded by dissatisfied “deplorables”, but what? As for navigating the political landscape, the devil is in the detail of what happens around us.