I can see any hope for the survival of the Conservative party fading fast. If loyal supporters didn’t get the stark message bayoneted to over a thousand hard working councillors who lost their seats, how can there be? Winston Churchill once described a fanatic as, ‘someone who can’t change their mind and won’t change the subject’.
When I read that 75% of the membership want to leave the EU on WTO terms I threw my hands up in despair. And when occasionally I try to explain what WTO rules are and how they would wreck certain parts of the economy I tend to get the bovine grunt of, ‘I don’t care. I just want to get out’.
That is now what passes for debate. People have switched off and they don’t want to listen.
The electorate were very clear. More voted for independents and pro remain parties then the hard Brexit brigade. Of course, it is not as simple as that as there is a whole range of mixed messages to be augured. But when May’s advisors are examining the entrails of a sacrificed goat for a sign, they might just notice that most people are fed up with extremes. It doesn’t require mental gymnastics.
Poor Theresa. No politician in living memory has had to put up with such humiliation and abuse. I couldn’t put up with a week of it let alone month after month of heavy shelling. And politicians lecture us about work place bullying. It is quite sickening.
So back to Winston Churchill who was always handy in a crisis. ‘To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often.’ So to improve we have to compromise. All of us. I want to remain. But I can’t have it. Mogg and his Abominable No Men want us out at any cost. He won’t get that either. Labour want to be elected and in so doing have put together a whole set of impossible demands which neither the EU nor the government cannot deliver on.
What is being attempted by the wise and decent David Lidington is Isolation Theory. In reality, despite all the rhetoric there is not many policy differences on how to leave between the Tories and Labour. It’s the sugar coating to sell the bitter pill to the party faithfuls that is the main stumbling block. Grass roots supporters of both parties are fervent in their belief that for one side to talk to another is a wickedness for which their can be no salvation. The Tories are baby killers who want to destroy the NHS and fill their hedge funds friends’ pockets with gold. And Labour are a gang of Marxists hell bent on overthrowing capitalism and putting their union chums in control. So those extremes have to be filtered out of negotiations. That is not too difficult. The grown ups ought to be able to sort that out. It’s the resonances of words not substance, that is the the problem . And the words ‘Customs Union’ is kryptonite. So guys, airbrush them out.
In common sense, practical terms there has to be some sort of arrangement with the EU whereby we can both trade on a level playing field in a way that won’t damage goods and services for either side. There will always have to be some sort of alignment on regulations. It’s in everyone’s interests that there are. Trying to sell right hand drive vehicles and three pin plugs to the 27 just won’t work. All this is covered in the May deal. It’s practical and not ideological. But headlines relating to a deal/sell out on a permanent customs union are pure poison. Call it the Common Trading Area Agreement. Call it anything without the words customs union in it. The New Common Market might even work.
There are only a few days left before the EU elections and it looks as if Labour and the Tories so terrified of their members are scurrying to their bunkers. If the extremes can’t be isolated, if the will to compromise in the national interest fails, if consensus politics cannot be given the kiss of life, then the beginnings of the end of Parliamentary democracy will have stirred. We will have drained the swamp of bottom feeders and tadpoles and filled it with crocodiles with killer instincts and very sharp teeth.