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This article was written on 16 Jun 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.

Britain: it’s over

In 1979, Margaret Thatcher came to power. Almost every government policy we’ve seen since then, from Tories and Labour, in their Tory-lite guise, have been aimed at breaking up the Attlee government’s policies and ones that were subsequently introduced by Harold Wilson with the intent on liberalising them still further. Next Thursday, Britain will vote to leave the European Union, bringing the dislike of Attlee’s and Wilson’s policies to its logical conclusion.

I don’t lament this. It’s too late. The Brexit faction are clearly going to win and, in so doing, reveal that the country really is home to racists and xenophobes, along with sundry others you wouldn’t want to be in a lift with. But at least the country is consistent. It has voted for right-wing politics, or a facsimile of them, in every election that I can remember and there’s no reason to suppose that now, confronted with the fundamentally right wing option of storming out of the EU and going it alone, in a misremembering homily to what it thinks happened in the war, it will do any different.

What we have here is the Weimar Republic in the fissile days before Hitler came to power, albeit without the arch, politicised eye of the cabaret, with its subversive cross-dressing and rouged anarchy. Instead, we have David Cameron, who now looks like a tragic buffoon, a crumbling nation and widespread hopelessness. After him, we have not a comedy dictator with easily-parodied mannerisms, but a fat reactionary in ‘Boris’ Johnson who would do or say anything to get power for reasons he can’t even remember let alone articulate.

The one bright spot on the horizon is that part of this latter-day Weimar will vote to leave it to stew in its own foul juices. Scotland, it seems, will hold a second referendum and the result, this time, will be to divorce itself from a country that seems to be going increasingly mad. England, Wales and, of course, Northern Ireland, never the most easy of countries to be allied with, will go it alone in a frankly deranged mix of peoples with absolutely bugger all in common. The Scots, meanwhile, always the most outward looking nation, will link up with the rest of Europe.

It’s sad that it’s come to this. You think of the optimism that was in the air in 1945 and the so-called ‘khaki election’ and look at how it has ended, over seventy years later. A country divided against itself, which is the fruit of the referendum, and Scotland agitating to get away, leaving the rest to become more bizarre. Did it have to end like this? Was it inevitable? Where was the turning point? My answer is that I don’t know. Maybe it really was Thatcher’s election or maybe sclerotic old Britain was already decaying and this is just a last remaining shove into irrelevance.

Either way. This, it seems, is the end. What happens afterward, I don’t know. Weimar ended in extremism and the demonisation of minorities and, although history never entirely repeats itself, that’s what’s happening here. They had the Jews. The UK of 2016 has Muslims, people who claim benefits, the disabled and anyone who isn’t white, which suggests that the propaganda people will need to get to work focusing in more narrowly to really whip up a hate campaign. My guess is that they’ll choose Muslims, generally because they can be easily identified, and focus on radicalising them so that they can claim, when the Muslims retaliate, that they were right all along.

The ‘useful idiots’ in Weimar were the people who thought that they could in some way use or contain Hitler. Here, it’s the left wingers who think that a country which voted for a fundamentally right wing policy will inexplicably start voting left wing again once it’s out of the way. Which, of course, they won’t. Johnson, Farage, Gove et al will be emboldened by leaving the EU and will see it as a ringing endorsement of their vision for Britain. They’ll be lucky if they’re allowed to go to the toilet when they raise their hand.

What happens next won’t be pleasant. Right now, it looks as though it’ll be Johnson in Number 10, Farage in the House of Lords and in some kind of cabinet position and an alliance with Gove, whose turn it might be next. And remember, of course, that Farage was accused of singing Nazi songs when he was a schoolboy, making the Weimar comparison even more sadly prescient. The clock Thatcher turned back in 1979 is being turned back even further and – mark my words – people are going to die.

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