Sobering Predictions Before The Rise of British Populism
By Rob Woodward: This article was published in February 2019, when Theresa May was Prime Minister, before the pandemic and before Johnson’s populism and subsequent dramatic fall from grace.
I just wanted to remind our readers of some things that have happened that people have forgotten because the scandals under Boris Johnson just got ever greater that they shrouded the wrong-doing that would have seen ministers and PM’s sacked without question in times where populism didn’t exist, and integrity meant something. It’s an article that predicts the rise of the elderly, who now outnumber younger voters, who yearn for an era long gone, the consequential rise of a populist (such as Boris Johnson) and the inevitable failure it will all bring. This is a sobering read. It should make you think about where our country is being led right now and where it might lead to.
By Graham Vanbergen – 13/02/2019: I have written endlessly about the scandal that is now emerging. The involvement of dark money and right-wing free-market fundamentalists who agitated for Brexit – secured positions in high office and the very corridors of power. In my book, ‘Brexit – A corporate coup d’etat’ – I highlighted how they established, built and nurtured authoritative organisations to ensure that Brexit was not a wasted opportunity to push forward the next stage of the global reign of free markets.
The book’s main thrust was to highlight just how much ‘dark money’ from foreign donors – and by that, I mean many American donors – was used (illegally) to tip the balance in favour of leaving the EU. The difference between 52/48 and 50/50 was just 1.2 million votes. It is telling that one-third of those who voted in the EU referendum had not made up their mind just one week before walking into the voting booth. The type and style of covert influence that has had such serious implications for British democracy that I wrote about is now becoming known. The tactics and strategies used are truly shocking and would be in any democracy.
The extent of that influence, two and half years after the fact, is now bubbling to the surface every day. The Electoral Commission, useless as it has proven to be, has been forced into action. The police are involved, and now so is the National Crime Agency. The NCA’s mission statement is – “Our role is to protect the public by disrupting and bringing to justice those serious and organised criminals who present the highest risk to the UK.” The NCA is now looking into the organised crimes of the Leave campaign and its collective funding operations.
There are a number of realities – or facts if you like that will become so. The Electoral Commission is toothless and will end up issuing meaningless fines. No one will take any notice. The police will do little – if anything at all, the same with the National Crime Agency.
The reality of life is that as a billionaire or a corporation, there aren’t any rules and they can pay for what is in their best interest. They will not get caught. They will not go to prison. Just like the bankers.
Fantasising Brexiteers dream of the vacuum that Theresa May is creating. That dream consists of a bonfire of deregulation because that’s all there is with Brexit. But beware of the message that what this will bring us is freedom. It is their version of freedom they want, not yours. That is the deregulation of workers’ rights, of environmental protection legislation, of food standards, animal welfare, agricultural safeguards and so much more. Britain obtained many of these safeguards through the membership of a club that wasn’t perfect – but it was a lot better than what will happen next.
The question over EU membership has seen off Thatcher and Cameron. It will see off Theresa May – probably quite soon as her Brexit will simply not be hard enough for the more extreme end of the very powerful right-wing faction within the Tory ranks. Its next chosen Prime Minister will also fail. Whoever that sacrificial lamb turns out to be – he/she will end up being stabbed in the back by the Tories just a couple of years into their leadership. And then another Tory PM will be crowned – and it will see him/her off as well, probably at the hands of the electorate – eventually.
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Brexit is an ideology. It is not a thought-out, written down, published economic plan that we can analyse. It will cause trade to fall significantly between the UK and the EU. It will be so bad that a recession will likely build with GDP falling over a period of at least a decade. Relations will become toxic because the hard right within the Tory party will blame the EU for all of the failures of itself and what will inevitably turn into some form of political party of extreme cultists. They want you to be with them or against them – it’s all they have. At some point, the hard Brexit they will end up achieving will cause huge political and constitutional problems – not least with border controls and of course, threaten the four-nation Union of Britain itself.
The former could see just-in-time deliveries of all manner of goods from food to pharmaceuticals to fail. The latter will be a gift to the SNP in Scotland, who will demand another referendum at some point in the near future. And who knows – Ireland? Wales?
Eventually, the wheels will start to fall off UK plc. Britain’s currency will continue in the doldrums for years, international investors will seek more stable markets abroad and as the economy begins a slow downward spiral against its peers, a recession will turn more inflationary (as a result of the decline of Sterling’s buying power). There’s even a possibility that in a few years’ time, Britain could enter a period of ‘stagflation.’ That is stagnant growth not keeping up with inflation.
As the meltdown builds, Jeremy Corbyn’s hard-left toxicity will not resonate with the electorate, as I’ve said before. The right-wing press will ensure a true blue fear factor propaganda campaign is well in full swing before any general election, whenever that might be. And the Tories will be victorious and claim another five years – and that will prove to be an awful spectacle of political policy failure at every level. Just a litany of broken promises.
But in the end, all of this means – standards of living will fall. Poverty-stricken households will increase, food banks will become so common they will emerge in the most unlikely places like GP’s surgeries, libraries and other public buildings.
But the cost of maintaining a basic standard of life for households will eventually see people on the streets. Household incomes have been falling in real terms since the banks crashed the economy. This will not stop – and Brexit will make it worse. The elderly will demand more care, more assistance, more money – and as they outnumber the young, their outdated worldview and dreams of an era long gone – will bring us down even more so. This is where the rise of populism festers – in the minds of those who wish for the things that are simply not possible.
Britain is already in a tailspin, and by the time the electorate realises it – there’s a crash-landing ahead. It’ll be a problem for everyone but the rich. Mark my words, Brexit was a con, neoliberal capitalism (the manipulation of real capitalism tilted towards the rich and powerful) is a con and we’re heading for a generation of political and economic trouble, especially as the middle classes get eviscerated to pay for all the damage.
The only potential I can see for Brexit is that something even worse happens – like a world war or some other global catastrophe that changes the world order – that crushes the old alliances and changes international pacts like the European Union and even Pax Americana. But still, you need great leadership – and I don’t see that in any corner of the current Conservative party. They are dead in the water as a political party – they just don’t know it yet.