Saturday, 30 December 2017

Andrew Adonis's Brexit Bomb

All together now! Oh Andrew Adonis, oh Andrew Adonis. And so a new champion emerges from within establishment politics to smite the idiot Brexit strategy of Theresa May. Yes, it is true, I haven't much time for Adonis's elevated personage. Nor do I understand why so many mainstream politicians are taken with him, especially when he's shown a level of pig-headed ignorance that could match the idiot musings of any Tory minister. Nevertheless, his resignation from the National Infrastructure Commission is another blow to a PM and a government that needs all the good news it can grasp at.

His departure letter doesn't make good reading for the Tories. "The worst piece of legislation of my lifetime ...", "Brexit is a populist, nationalist spasm worth of Donald Trump ...", "... rupturing Britain's key trading and political alliances ...". And, in my view the killer passage:
The Government is hurtling toward the EU's emergency exit with no credible plan for the future of British trade and European co-operation, all the while ignoring - beyond soundbites and inadequate programmes - the crises of housing, education, the NHS, and social and regional inequality which are undermining the fabric of our nation and feeding the populist surge.
Ouch. True to form, the man who appointed Adonis to the NIC, George Osborne, said he was sorry to seem him go, especially as he commanded bipartisan respect. Politics people with memories longer than your average goldfish may recall Osborne invited him to head the commission while he was a sitting Labour peer to add to Jeremy Corbyn's woes during his first 20 months of office. By praising him now, Osborne stirs the permanent crisis the Conservative Party is stewing in.

Needless to say, Adonis is right about Brexit and the government's approach to it. As argued on a number of occasions here, Theresa May's approach to leaving the EU has been driven almost entirely by short-term Tory party interests. In her full imperial pomp prior to the election it was hard Brexit all the way as a means of shoring up her declining coalition. After the devastation that near death experience wrought, so the twists and turns of Tory infighting is pointing toward a soft Brexit in all but name. This itself is not a foregone conclusion, but the Parliamentary arithmetic is tending in this direction too.

However, it is worth noting that soft Brexit or staying within the EU are not panaceas. While millions, particularly the young, identify their interests with it, one should not be about sewing illusions in what the EU is and represents. It is a largely unaccountable bureaucracy that has grown alongside the deepening of the single market. It enforces austerity in Greece, has played a thoroughly disreputable role in several other countries, including major EU nations like Italy and Spain, and is the battering ram for privatisation across the continent - ironically, thanks to the neoliberal lobbying and cajoling British governments lobbied for over the course of decades. Nor, must we remember, did the EU prevent (nor could it) the devastating austerity measures our pro-EU heroes, Dave and Osborne, undertook during their six years in charge. Nevertheless, despite the EU's problems and limitations the integration of markets, cultures and peoples is a profoundly progressive development. The lapse into nationalism, the "spasm" as Adonis puts it, is regressive and, as noted before the referendum, has occasioned a recrudescence of the rank racist excreta mainstream politics believed was long buried.

What to do? Equally illusory is the hope someone's going to sweep in and stop Brexit. The latest repository of this fantasy being our friend Emmanuel Macron - presumably after he's finished deporting refugees and tearing up the employment rights of French workers. Neither is there going to be a second referendum. No amount of dodgy financial issues (which afflicted the Remain just as much as the Leave campaigns) nor Russian botnet claims are going to shift things. Unless the polls start reporting double digit leads very soon for abandoning Brexit, you can forget it. Yet all is not lost. There is one politically realistic repository for salvaging and preserving something of the positives of the last 40-odd years. Midway through his letter, Andrew Adonis pauses to note "What Britain needs is a radically reforming government in the tradition of Attlee ...". There is such a government-in-waiting that favours a soft Brexit, and that is Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party.


Thomas said...

I can see the Tories taking on more aspects of the American right going into 2018. I expect the continued use of top-down culture-war narratives (snowflake university students, blue passports) and the intensification of establishment panic about Russia and social media 'undermining our societies', whatever that means.

Phil said...

As a comrade put it over on the Facebook page:

" Adonis represents everything I most hate about politics in this country. Self interest at its worst.

Never elected as a Member of Parliament he gets a peerage via the disgusting patronage system having jumped ship from the Lib Dems to Blairs New Labour project. In other words he finds himself in a position of power never once having been voted into it by the citizenry. He then supports this austerity imposing Tory Government by accepting the infrastructure posting.

I would say how can anyone know what they are voting for, but in his case that would be entirely inappropriate. He is the embodiment of the establishment servant influencing no matter who is voted for by the electorate. You and I can vote for whomever we wish but we get Adonis no matter what.....but of course he believes he is acting in our best interests protecting us from our mistakes. Good of him.

He says he believes in the parties working together. For this read complete lack of choice for the electorate. A continuation of the New Labour or Tory flavours of the same sweet.

A healthy democracy depends upon real choice and differences. Just because you happen to agree with him on the EU does not mean he and those like him deserve any publicity at all."