Making Britain Great Again

No one is in control right now. The situation at Westminster is so bad in fact that it would come as some comfort to know that the monkeys were running the zoo. At least, in that case, someone would be in charge. Theresa May has decided to lead her party headlong down the rabbit hole of the right in a completely futile attempt to claw back some electoral support from UKIP – emulating the political tactics of brawling thugs – only to discover that the tail is wagging the dog. In sheer desperation to clutch the reigns her government has suggested asking UK companies to compile lists of all their “foreign” workers, and demand that schools record the nationalities of defenceless children in their care. Blood and soil nationalism is yet another failed footing in the descent into the abyss of fascist barbarism, and the present back-tracking – making such lists “secret” – does absolutely nothing to reassure a terrified population that this is not the last days of Britain own Weimar Republic.

Thankfully one of the few saving graces of modern globalised capitalism is that markets are responsive to this dangerous rhetoric. Multinational corporations and international financial institutions don’t really care – as history has demonstrated – what governments do to the people caught within their borders. What they don’t like is uncertainty, and the UK government is doing a wonderful job of conjuring up fear and uncertainty. Europe has made its position clear that there will be no access for British business to the common market without the free movement of labour. No concessions were made for Switzerland on this, and we can be sure London won’t be getting a better deal than the Swiss.

With talk of British immigration checks being set up even at Irish points of access to the United Kingdom and a “hard Brexit” – a complete British lockout from the EU – the currency markets have sent the pound plummeting against the euro and the dollar. It seems likely that the pound, which has in the past week sunk to a 31 year low against the dollar, will reach parity with the euro shortly. All that May and Hammond have at their disposal is spin; presenting the catastrophic dip in exchange rates as “good for exports,” when in 2014 minor fluctuations were used as evidence that an independent Scotland was doomed to failure.

Sterling’s collapse is bad for everyone. Only a few short months ago the Leave campaign was shouting from the rooftops that we import more than we export, and that is exactly the problem. Earnings in the UK aren’t going to climb fast enough to match the rising cost of living, making everyone who relies on wages poorer. If the poor are going to get poorer in the months and years ahead, we can be sure that the multinationals will up sticks and go – instigating a rapid flight of capital and sending unemployment upwards. That’s just maths.

Of course the UK government has a deflection strategy already in operation: This is all the fault of migrants and refugees, and if not that it is the fault of “divisive nationalists” up here in Scotland. Britain’s greatness in the sloganistic nonsense of Making Britain Great Again is established on identifying/inventing difference between Britishness and otherness, casting a new generation of outsiders along the codified lines of British imperialist racism.

What is most worrying and problematic about this dark turn in UK politics is that no one ever controls this language – this is the language of hatred and intolerance that has shown itself, time and again, to take on a life of its own and control everyone around it. The xenophobia of the Leave campaign was vindicated by the Brexit vote and was immediately felt on the streets of England with a truly shocking upsurge in racist, Islamophobic, and xenophobic violence. Theresa May, like Cameron before her – led by the vile ideology of UKIP and the UK’s National Front – has sent out the message that “patriotism” is to be equated with blood and soil nationalism and the defence of the realm from all enemies – black and brown.

It is showing no signs of stopping at the exclusion of the racial other. The spike in racially motivated violence since the Brexit referendum has been coupled with similar spikes in all sorts of attacks on those being defined as nationally impure – homophobic attacks in particular.

No one controls this language, and so comparisons of this new politics of Britain with the fall of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Nazism in 1930s Germany are entirely appropriate. Few in Berlin in 1929 would have believed that their nation – a leading European democracy and industrial and intellectual powerhouse – would have plumbed the depths of mass murder and genocidal savagery, but it did – and this can happen again, and it will if we do not control the Woolfe, the Hookem, the Rudd, and the May.

The Butterfly Rebellion
Jason Michael
Ayrshire, Scotland

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