Notes From the Margins…

Empire 2.0

  • March 15, 2017
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In years to come, historians will look back at the ruins of the country that was once the United Kingdom and wonder what brought about its spectacular and stunning collapse. As they pick their way through the rubble,   they will eventually end up in the strange  period that we are now living through, in which there is almost nothing that we seem able to do except watch as the greatest collection of fools, frauds, fakes incompetents that has ever led the British state drags the country towards disaster with the gleeful insouciance of a drunk batsman tottering out to the wicket to take a wild swing at any ball that moves.

Yesterday, for example, Theresa May had the unbelievable gall to accuse Nicola Sturgeon of ‘playing politics’ with the country’s future, as if she would never dream of doing such a thing.   And today, the pitiful David Davis admitted that the government has no contingency plan for leaving the EU without a deal, even though Theresa May only recently insisted that leaving the EU with no deal would be better than leaving it with a bad deal.  How could she be so sure, if she hadn’t actually assessed what might happen?  We don’t know, and she obviously doesn’t know either. Yet that didn’t stop her promising to inflict on the country what she didn’t know regardless of the consequences, and there is little indication that those who voted to leave want to know, or even know that they don’t know.

This is the terrifying dynamic that the country is now trapped in.  It unfolds day after day, gathering pace and idiocy with each passing week.   Today, a report from the construction industry predicted the loss of 200,000 construction jobs.   Since the Referendum there has been a 90 percent drop in the number of EU nurses coming to the UK and there are nowhere near enough nurses to replace them.

Try and stop this – or even try to allow parliament to actually look in detail at what the unelected PM is planning – and you are likely to be dismissed as a ‘Remoaner’ and ‘whinger’ or even a ‘traitor’ who has defied the ‘will of the people’.

With hindsight, historians may be able to understand how this incredible disaster was allowed to happen.   And when they sift through the fanaticism, the arrogance, the glassy-eyed optimism, the flagwaving jingoism, the sheer stupidity and destructive malevolence of the political class that made it happen, they may well discover something called Empire 2.0.

This apparently is the name that Whitehall civil servants have given to the government’s proposal to reinvent the Commonwealth as a post-EU substitute for the EU.  Liam Fox, the sleazy spiv who has inexplicably become trade secretary, does not like this terminology, saying ‘It”s a phrase I find slightly offensively caricaturing. So it is not a phrase I would use.’

No one could caricature Fox and his colleagues better than they do themselves, but Empire 2.0 is in fact a very good shorthand explanation for what is taking place.   Empire 2.0 sounds like Hawaii 5.0 and for these clowns it is just as thrilling, or ‘terribly exciting’ as Nigel Farage put it.     Because one of the main reasons why this country is now preparing to commit national suicide is because it once had an empire and it has still not got used to the fact that it doesn’t have one any longer.  Like the woman on Question Time who insisted that Britain ruled as   ‘the light of the world’ for ‘thousand of years’, the British political class, and a significant percentage of its population believes that the British empire used to be great and now it isn’t.

This is a country haunted and poisoned by a combination of imperial nostalgia and imperial amnesia, that cannot stand the fact that it now has to abide by the rules of an organisation – the EU – that we willingly joined, and that therefore tells itself that the EU is a new ‘Reich’ and that we are living under the ‘dictatorship of Brussels.’

Having foreigners tell us what to do is bad enough, but the real indicator of our fall from greatness is the presence of foreigners inside ‘our’ borders.   It was alright once for us to emigrate to any country that took our fancy, but immigrants were not supposed to come here, at least not in such numbers that they became noticeable.   They were certainly not supposed to walk around our streets and SPEAK THEIR OWN LANGUAGES.

For too many of our countrymen, such things are unacceptable.     And that is why we had to leave the EU.   That’s why we want Empire 2.0 to restore our links with our old friends from the Commmonwealth who once belonged to Empire 1.0, because we are a ‘great trading nation’ and great trading nations can do what they like – even if they can’t.

This is why people like Fox talk of the ‘tremendous opportunities opportunities to importers and exporters from across the whole Commonwealth, a genuinely win-win situation’.   They remember when we were great and they know we can be great again.  For them, every precipice is a chance to fly.

Unfortunately, too many people share the same belief, and they will probably continue to share it, long after we hit the ground, and the bubble of Empire 2.0 floats out of reach, and bursts above their heads.


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1 Comment

  1. Nigel Baldwin

    19th Mar 2017 - 1:05 pm

    A historian bay the name of Norman Stone commented back in 1986 that: “We (Britain) are the last of the Ancien Regimes”. Look at the institutions that rule our country, that have barely changed over a century. The lawyers still wear wigs and dress in black (still in mourning for Queen Anne); England (and the UK as a whole at General Elections) still uses a system of counting votes with results totally out of whack with the voting share for each party – the current government’s majority “mandate” rests on a mere 39% of the vote; at the state opening of Parliament, the Heralds dress up like animated playing cards, walking backwards in front of Her Majesty, just as if they were attending some medieval tournament.

    I have a name for our present way of governance in the UK – The Dictatorship of the Archaic. The whole thing makes me feel stupid. Some may call Britain ‘the sick man of Europe’. The stupid old man of Europe, more like. Unless we change our ways – or events force change…

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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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