Sunday, July 03, 2016

The Haze Sometimes Disappears

Tony Burman published an intriguing column in yesterday's Toronto Star. Given last week's fallout from the referendum, he believes that Britain and Europe may patch up their differences:

That astonishing thought became more than possible this week as Britain’s political battleground descended into treachery and farce.

In a chaotic response to the slim referendum vote to pull Britain out of the European Union, London’s Palace of Westminster was littered with the victims of political backstabbing and intrigue.

Boris Johnson's political ambitions came to a crashing halt:

Johnson, who studied classics at Oxford University and once argued that studying Greek and Latin would keep young people off the streets, became the centre of his own personal Greek drama. In an act of treachery, his close colleague, Michael Gove, withdrew his support of Johnson at the last minute, saying that he now felt “Boris cannot provide the leadership.” Gove announced he would run for the top job instead.

Jeremy Corbin's political future looks no better:

As if this wasn’t enough, Britain’s opposition Labour party is also in tatters. Its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, under attack for his lacklustre support of the pro-Europe side in the referendum, received an overwhelming vote of non-confidence from Labour MPs. The pressure on him to resign is building.

So that’s where politics stand in Merrie Olde England, barely a week after the historic referendum on Europe. The final vote by a narrow 52-48 margin was to “leave” the EU, but there is increasing doubt about when this will take effect.

There are two reasons why Britain's exit may never happen:

The idea of a 50-per-cent-plus-one referendum deciding such colossal issues in the life of a nation is increasingly being discredited.

It will likely take another election to even begin to restore the credibility of the Britain’s floundering and self-absorbed political and media elites.

 Buyer's remorse is settling in:

Already, in terms of an economic backlash, there are signs that the biggest losers will be many of the working class people who voted to leave.

In the days since the vote, there has also been more criticism about the referendum process. On an issue with such historic meaning — in this case possibly the dissolution of both the United Kingdom and the European Union — why would the government allow the margin of victory to be as tight as 50 per cent plus one?

On the morning after, the haze sometimes disappears. 

On another note, Elie Wiesel died yesterday. He was a witness to the evil of which man is capable. The opposite of good, he wrote, is indifference. Words to remember in times such as these.



The Mound of Sound said...

I wonder if the Brexit fiasco will give our New Dems pause to reconsider their preposterous "50 plus 1" stance on any future Quebec referendum.

Owen Gray said...

It really is absurd, Mound, that the fate of a nation could rest on one vote.

Dana said...

I'm really rather transfixed by all the fooforah over there. The 500% rise in racist incidents, the dismissal of the fear and pain of so many of the young, the blind aged imperial delusions of English power, the eager calm of Nicola Sturgeon, the Spanish and French insistence that Scotland cannot join the EU lest the Basques and Catalans get ideas above themselves...just all of it.

The tragedies will continue to unfold I'm sure with very little good news. I just really hope the EU itself isn't killed off as a result of the treachery of worms like Boris Johnston, Michael Gove and Rupert Murdoch. That continent composed of it's component sovereign nation states has historically been much more destructive than this bureaucratic union has been.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Dana. Unfortunately, one thread could cause the whole thing to unravel.

Toby said...

Owen Gray said... , "It really is absurd, Mound, that the fate of a nation could rest on one vote."

It is not absurd; it is the way democracy works. The absurdity is that far too many voters enter the voting booth with no idea of the issues and others choose not to vote at all.

Question: does anyone foresee any sort of structural reform in the European bureaucracy? It all looks like Fritz Lang's Metropolis. The Western world seems to be stuck in an Hobson's choice between bureaucratic rule and corporate rule, both of which can be oppressive.

Dana said...

Job search websites in Germany, and I would imagine other Euro countries as well, are reporting 4 fold increases in job searches from the UK. And away they go...

Owen Gray said...

The young don't plan to hang around to see how things turn out, Dana.

Owen Gray said...

Burman suggests that Britain's exit might force reform in the EU, Toby, as other nations threaten to leave.

Dana said...

All western democracies are governed bureaucratically. Would one person behind a big desk in a single office be preferable? Or perhaps some software? Bureaus composed of many people following set procedures is what we've got and will keep because, like democracy, it's at least better than all the other options. And to continue in the Churchillian vein bureaucracies tend to encourage 'talk talk'. Even endless talk talk is better than most of the other options humanity has devised.

Owen Gray said...

The problem with bureaucracies, Dana, is that people begin to feel like characters in Kafka's stories. And, even if they can't win, they'll try to take the whole edifice down with them.

Dana said...

Oh my goodness there's lots of problems with bureaucracies. But what's the alternatives? Every alternative will also entail people - even software.

Where there are people there are problems. Here again perfect becomes the enemy of good enough.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Dana. But, human nature being what it is, Luddites will still occasionally try to destroy the machines.

Toby said...

Dana has a point. We do need bureaucracies. Without them nothing would get done. However, bureaucracies have a natural tendency to bloat and can become dystopic. How do we keep a healthy balance?

Owen Gray said...

Good question, Toby. I suspect the answer has something to do with size.

Anonymous said...

Brexit brought about the worst of the UK.
It also brought about the best.
They are a Nation divided as are the USA.
Oddly since the election of Trudeau Canada looks united again!
In a few short months we have , again, become a country to admire.
Nowt as queer as folk, we used to say in Yorkshire.
To the English language challenged; that means people act strangely.
I am really enjoying the punch in the mouth to globalism.
That said , I m at a loss to figure out what comes next.
An unstable world is a dangerous world.


Owen Gray said...

It really is -- at this point -- impossible to predict what the final outcome will be, TB. But we should acknowledge that the world has become more dangerous. And our future depends on how wisely we act.

Steve said...

Having lived in Europe I have no problem with Quebec being its own country, smaller is better.
We shoud all be our own country, my house is now the nation of Steve.

Owen Gray said...

One of the problems with Quebec being its own nation, Steve, is that it's right in the middle of the country. That causes all kinds of logistical problems.