Notes From the Margins…

Our Ex-Man in Washington

  • July 11, 2019
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One of the most extraordinary revelations during our ongoing descent into the political vortex has been the supine feebleness and incompetence with which the British ruling classes have responded to a direct threat from the right to their most cherished institutions.  Back in the 1970s there were weird rightwing organisations like Moral Rearmament, secret service plots, and coup plans involving top army officers in response to the trade union militancy and the prospect of a leftwing Labour government.

Since the referendum the mighty establishment, with all its pomp and circumstance, its fossilised parliamentary rituals seasoned over the centuries, its independent civil service, its robed judges, and its elected representatives have all come under increasingly vicious attack from the Brexit zealots within and beyond the radicalised Tea Party Conservatives, working in tandem with the Putin-Trump-Bannon axis to weaken and divide the country, and its response has been effectively, nothing, nada, niet, zilch.

Take this week’s ‘soft coup’ that forced the resignation of the UK Ambassador to the UK Sir Kim Darroch.  Last weekend Isabel Choketruth (not her real name), the Brexiter’s go to mouthpiece for stuff like this, published a piece in the Mail (also a go to Brexit platform), containing leaked ‘diptel’ messages from Darroch that were critical of Trump.

Actually they were extremely critical, but this is what ambassadors do, and Darroch’s messages were not meant for public consumption.   Nevertheless Trump responded in the way that he will always do – like a psychotic toddler, tweeting:

What a guy.  What a man.  Having refused to deal with the ambassador of a country with which the US was not at war, Trump effectively laid down a challenge to our new Global Britain: Sack your ambassador and get me another.  Also, though this was not said out loud, Trump’s veto meant that we would not get the great trade deal that Brexiters believe is the only thing that can save them.

So off went Liam ‘Machinegun’ Fox to apologise to Ivanka Nepototski.

Meanwhile what would happen here?  Brexiters from the Tory Party to Nigel Mosley-Farage were scandalised – scandalised I tell you – by Darroch’s observations, and immediately demanded the resignation of a man whose diplomatic career, as Choketruth pointed out,  included ‘top roles dealing with EU bureaucrats in Brussels’ which have ‘ earned him a reputation as a europhile, and he is mistrusted by Brexiteers’.

A disreputable gang of Tories and ‘Brexiteers’ joined in the outrage at Darroch’s ‘trash-talking’ , as Piers Morgan put it, of the Mighty Trump.  But would the brave new Global Britain – the country that has just rejected EU ‘vassalage’ – stand up to this?  Would it support its own diplomats?

Well yes, and no, because one wants to defend one’s diplomats but one doesn’t want to offend the Orangeman any further.  One person who really doesn’t want to offend him is Boris de Waffle Johnson, who once insulted Trump himself back in 2015.  But that was then, and this week, during his debate with Hunt, Johnson refused to say whether he would support Darroch as PM, because that would be ‘presumptuous’.

As a result Darroch handed in his resignation.  If all this reeks of a stitch-up, it should, though naturally Ms Choketruth denies any such intentions:

This the kind of statement for which the word ‘disingenuous’ was invented. Choketruth once had another ‘great story’, in the form of emails between her ‘Bad Boy of Brexit’ pal Arron Banks, which she sat on for more than a year until another journalist effectively forced to own up to them. The reasons she sat on them are the same reasons she colluded in the unraveling of Darroch – to remove an official in a key position considered to be too close to the EU, who the Brexiters would like to replace with one of their own.

This was why Bankski was having a jokey tweet about it yesterday.

Lord Ashcroft is co-author with Choketruth of a biography of David Cameron, so these are very much in-jokes.

And to put all this in perspective, here is Mosley-Farage on his LBC show, telling a caller every Remainer in the civil service ‘should be removed, or change their ways.’

This was in answer to the question of whether every ‘every civil servant, every ambassador, even the head of the army, the head of the navy’ might have to be replaced ‘if they are Remainers’.

Mosley-Farage has no doubts.  He justifies their removal on the grounds that ‘the job of civil servants is to do what the elected government of the day tells them to do.’  Therefore if a government is attempting to ‘deliver Brexit’ and civil servants are ‘an obstruction to that’, then Nigel thinks they ‘should be removed’.’

Nigel is being a little bit slippery here,  which is only to be expected from him.   Civil servants may be ‘Remainers’ but still do what the government tells them to do.  Having a contrary political position does not mean ‘obstruction.’  Nor is it clear how Darroch ‘obstructed’ Brexit simply by giving his government informed and honest advice about how to deal with an unstable, reckless and erratic president.

Last but not least, it is clear that Darroch was ‘removed’ by a Brexit clique, working hand-in-hand with that same president.  As Mosley-Farage’s sidekick Richard ‘Tricky Dickie’ Tice explained on  Newsnight, Darroch’s resignation is ‘a huge opportunity for the new PM to completely re-set the agenda in a pro-Brexit world’.

Tice would like this person to be a ‘businessman’, rather than a trained diplomat, and clearly wouldn’t be averse to taking the position himself.

So here we have it.  The mighty Global Britain is leaving a trade bloc with which it engages as a partner to link its fortunes to an unstable president linked to the far-right, who clearly regard the UK as a bit of a vassal-state.

In this he is being assisted by Brexit ‘patriots’ intent on gutting the country’s institutions and reconfiguring them entirely according to their own agenda.

The Nazis had a word for what Mosley-Farage is proposing: gleichschaltung – coordination or consolidation, which Merriam-Webster defines as ‘the act, process, or policy of achieving rigid and total coordination and uniformity (as in politics, culture, communication) by forcibly repressing or eliminating independence and freedom of thought, action, or expression forced reduction to a common level forced standardization or assimilation.’

With the Nazis, this meant the Nazification of all Germany’s institutions, which began with their takeover of power in 1933.   Mosley-Farage and his gang of spivs are attempting to achieve a similar process of ‘standardisation’ – without the violence and terror or the machinery of the police state.

They don’t need any of that.

They just have to shout, bully, bluster, scheme and plot.  And unless the politicians and civil service – and the public – takes note of what is going on and take action against it, they will set in motion a process that will become very difficult to stop, and which will leave few institutions untouched.

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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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