The Plastic Hippo

June 1, 2014

Let`s do the time warp again

Filed under: History,Politics,World — theplastichippo @ 5:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,


Whenever there is a shift in political balance, regardless of its magnitude, it is inevitably described as a lurch to something other than the status quo. The results of the European and local elections in the UK might suggest a small jump to the left with a simultaneous step to the right but what is likely to drive us all insane is the inappropriate and worryingly vulgar pelvic thrust of the unpleasant Farage creature. Rather than lurching in any particular direction, British politics and the politics of Europe and beyond are swirling into a combined vortex heading inexorably down the drain.

It is all too easy to dismiss the kipper “earthquake” as a protest vote, a blip or an aberration brought about by less than ten per cent of a gullible and poorly educated electorate but that would be a major mistake. It is likely that when the recently elected kippers to the European Parliament are exposed to the rigours of scrutiny they, like their fore-bearers, will disappear into obscurity, suspension, de-selection and, in some cases, prison. Suggesting that people who voted for them are simply stupid and or racist is a serious under-estimation that could result in dreadful consequences especially if the established political parties decide to ape the kipper antics for the sake of populist support. Longing for the days of cricket whites on the village green, beer at a shilling a pint, Spangles, diphtheria and politicians differentiated by conviction rather than insipid, anodyne sound-bite is a golden seam of nostalgia ripe for extraction. But, there is more to politics than offering a box of chocolates with a nice picture by Turner on the lid.

It would be wrong to mistake this English splinter of discontent for a viable and coherent political movement. However, looking across Europe we find fascists, racists, communists, liberals, socialists, anarchists, comedians and even neo-Nazis being successful in peddling negativity. The common denominator seems to be an anti European Union loathing and a desire to blame something for austerity. It is rather easy for parochial isolationists to blame the EU or migration or religion or foreigners or people that don`t look like us when the bleeding obvious culprits are the First National Banks of insert name of country here. What is frightening is that the failure of bland governance has created a vacuum where petty nationalist, my village is better than your village fear-mongering is allowed not just to fester but to thrive. Just take a peek at media coverage of alleged criminality. It is unlikely that you find a suspect being reported as being white, blond, Christian and independently wealthy.

This toxic atmosphere of xenophobia and irrational blame is the global equivalent of prosperous property owners telling feral children to go and play up your own end of the street even though the other end of the street has been plundered and laid waste by prosperous property owners. We can only hope that it is coincidental that just days after the “victory” of Marine Le Penn`s Front Nationale, French riot police bulldozed a migrant camp at Calais. If offering the homeless and the stateless a free shower and change of clothes in return for simply boarding the transport provided doesn`t make you shudder, then damn it, Janet; when you knock on the door of a gothic mansion after the car has broken down in the dead of night during a thunderstorm, you might get more than you bargained for.

For all its failings, and there are many, the European Union and before that the European Economic Community has secured peace in a continent renown for slaughter in the name of nationalism for more years than my own lifetime and for that I am grateful. Now, small minded jingoism seeks to inculcate fear and hatred into already fearful communities suffering from the excessive greed of the new world order. War is profitable and encouraging a retreat within artificial borders is very good for business. Consider Scotland, or Catalonia, or Cyprus, or Cornwall, or Yorkshire, or London and remember what happens when affiliations break down. Look to the Ukraine, or Sudan, or Rwanda or to the former Yugoslavia. Sarajevo is two hours flying time from Heathrow, Hounslow is 20 minutes walk.

There is a sweet irony in that the poster boy and girl for English nationalists should be Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill. Mrs Thatcher signed the Maastricht treaty ensuring free movement across European borders and Churchill wanted a federal Europe to ensure peace. In the dark days of 1940 when just appointed as Prime Minister, he delivered his “This was their finest hour” speech. In the patriotic peroration, he spoke of “the abyss of a new dark age” to be conquered before moving “forward into broad, sunlit uplands”. He praised the courage and dignity of the French adding: “And freedom shall be restored to all. We abate nothing of our just demands – Czechs, Poles, Norwegians, Dutch, Belgians, all who have joined their cause to our own shall be restored.” Kippers will, no doubt, point out that there is no mention of Bulgarians or Romanians or, indeed, Transylvanian transvestites.

As Michael Rosen has pointed out, fascism does not arrive with tanks and blitzkrieg and storm troopers kicking down the door; it is far more subtle. It takes a sense of geographical and cultural identity; mixes in fear and anger and converts it first to misplaced patriotism and then hatred which only escalates. In a few days time, we will commemorate the anniversary of the start of Europe being taken back from fascism. The courageous men and women that secured that victory might shake their heads in disbelief at the thought that we might allow all that to happen again. It`s not that the people who voted for the past are stupid or racist, it`s just that some ordinary, decent people are easily persuaded.

Maybe tomorrow belongs to the future.


1 Comment »

  1. Thank you, brilliant.

    Comment by Barry Crutchley — June 2, 2014 @ 10:08 pm | Reply

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