Dear lord dear lord dear lord. If you’re anything like me and you live in the UK and you’re an a) politics junkie, and b) a socialist, then recent moments in British current events might have been leaving you punch-drunk with the heady cocktail that I like to call ‘a F**berry Pie’. That’s two parts crippling anxiety mixed with one part rapturous hope and served with a slap to the face with a leather glove. And a strawberry on top. Chased with a beer.
The most right-wing Tory cabinet in modern history. The biggest chance of a socialist alternative in generations. I HAVE TOO MANY EMOTIONS RIGHT NOW!
Last night a crucial eve-of-Brexit debate took place in the House of Commons. It was to be a litmus test of sorts of Boris Johnson’s nascent yet already crumbling Premiership. It was many things. Johnson’s first Commons vote. A decision on whether or not Parliament should take hold of the Brexit process. A test of mettle for much-touted but rarely seen ‘Tory rebels’. An indicator of whether or not a General Election was incoming. To say that it was eventful would be a massive understatement. The truth is that British politics has been huffing rocket fuel. Its pupils are dilated as f**k and it’s staggering down the mideelf of the road, swinging its fists wildly about. Yet through all the misery and madness, in the eye of the storm, there is a beacon of hope and reason. Don’t celebrate just yet—as all the country’s institutions and centres of power are tilted against it happening—but a national socialist renewal could well be on the horizon.
Before we get to the Twitter reactions to the show the House of Commons put on last night, first a massive shout-out to all those Jeremy Corbyn anti-stans who have been singing their #ANYONEBUTCORBYN tune since 2015. Huge fan of all the centrist naysayers who have been doing their utmost to shoot down the man whose leadership of the Labour Party has made all this possible. If only you’d had your way and we’d booted him and replaced him with Owen Smith or Yvette Cooper then, THEN, we’d…uh.
Boris Johnson is the first Prime Minister since 1829 to lose his first vote in Parliament. Off to a flying start…— Paul Sweeney MP (@PaulJSweeney) September 3, 2019
If you're wondering how bad the day was for Boris Johnson, he went from having a majority of one to now being 43 short of a majority.— Shehab Khan (@ShehabKhan) September 3, 2019
IN. ONE. DAY.
The one thing he was any good at was playing the fool. Now that he's required to look serious, he's all over the place. What an international embarassment this Prime Minister is.— GeorgeMonbiot (@GeorgeMonbiot) September 3, 2019
Corbyn just now:— Ray Thompson (@underthenet88) September 3, 2019
"Let me offer the members opposite some words of encouragement: standing by your principles does not always harm your future prospects."
Not long ago @jeremycorbyn faced a crisis trapped between Remainers & Leavers and was shunned by other opposition parties. Now he’s able to stand up for democracy, work with a cross-party alliance & appear statesmanlike. Is that what people mean by No 10’s new strategic genius?— Nick Robinson (@bbcnickrobinson) September 3, 2019
• Boris Johnson Humiliated in historic Defeat!!! 😱— ARTIST TAXI DRIVER (@chunkymark) September 4, 2019
• Winston Churchill grandson expelled 😱
• Jacob Rees Mogg an oity toity lying slob 😱
• Iain Duncan Smith picks his nose and eats it 🤮
• Demonic Dominic screaming as Tories eat their own babies 😱pic.twitter.com/vmrf2KC9SB
You have to admit that Corbyn has smashed it https://t.co/fpWtvobzv2— Abi Wilkinson (@AbiWilks) September 3, 2019
I’m very happy with an October general election that will throw Johnson and the Tories into the dustbin of history.— Cllr John Edwards (@JohnEdwards33) September 4, 2019
I’m not happy that we will lose the trigger ballot process and disloyal Labour MPs, including the Deputy Leader, won’t be held to account for their behaviour.
Is @tom_watson— Maureen Fitzsimmons (@mojos55) September 3, 2019
on holiday? I thought he would have been all over Twitter congratulating Jeremy Corbyn on his masterly performance tonight but he’s strangely silent.
What will all those who have spent their time arguing with us, saying @JeremyCorbyn secretly wants ‘no deal’ do now?— James Foster (@JamesEFoster) September 4, 2019
He’s proved your lies, smears and misinformation wrong. Again.
HE has put the country first in all of this because his concern is FOR the people.
If I was a Tory I'd never forgive Europe for calling that referendum. https://t.co/hklTzo1zoL— Séamas It Ever Was (@shockproofbeats) September 3, 2019
.@jeremycorbyn has shown the maturity, calmness, & unflinching dedication to rule of law, parliamentary democracy & good of country that is obviously lacking in Boris Johnson. He is resilient & principled - and is the PM this country needs. Bring it on! @UKLabour @PeoplesMomentum https://t.co/Mf4amcI5NS— Salma Yaqoob (@SalmaYaqoob) September 3, 2019
Ben Okri's poem in tribute to Jeremy Corbyn— LFTV (@TheBirmingham6) September 4, 2019
'A New Dream of Politics' is now looking prophetic
"Always when least expected an unexpected
Figure rises when dreams here have
Become like ashes."pic.twitter.com/veoNUXfNq3
The currency is **strengthening** on news that the government is falling apart.— Tim Ashton (@_Tim_Ashton) September 3, 2019
This is mad.
Has it ever happened before? https://t.co/5AXWlmlkpj
And then there’s Tory MP Jacob Reed-Mogg. This is the Victorian workhouse ghoul whom centrist hero Labour MP Jess Phillips is best buddies with and who is in many ways the absolute worst embodiment of all the negative stereotypes of what people picture when they imagine the repressive British aristocracy. His performance in the Commons last night was truly something:
During last night's parliamentary debate @Jacob_Rees_Mogg reclined across the front bench, leading to shouts of "sit up!" from MPs and an accusation of showing contempt for the House from the Green Party's @CarolineLucas.— Sky News (@SkyNews) September 4, 2019
Read more: https://t.co/vrHbQTMSr9 pic.twitter.com/r3mw7IeEJn
Isn’t that remarkable?
You can practically hear David Attenborough:
‘Here we have, in his natural habitat, the British Tory. Here, in the halls of power into which he was born, on the eve of a crisis that threatens to engulf the nation, he rests, relaxed; assured in his unassailable position at the top of the pile, displaying a classic and palpable contempt for those his profession claims to represent. Truly there has rarely been seen such a naked display of power dynamics in the jungle that is British politics. Most of his ilk prefer to practice a more subtle form of dance. But not the Moggius Poshoferus.’
This is the image which symbolises Johnson’s Premiership so far, reeking as it does of arrogance and complacency https://t.co/2cjVy8ysRm— Kevin Maguire (@Kevin_Maguire) September 3, 2019
A ready-made election poster for opposition parties: “He’s not worried about a no-deal Brexit but you should be.” pic.twitter.com/IyHweR7NHj— George Eaton (@georgeeaton) September 3, 2019
Not mine but genius pic.twitter.com/5HSQtIn86r— Susan Murray (@ThatSusanMurray) September 4, 2019
“For the love of God, Sir! There are two seats!”— Ireland Simpsons Fans (@iresimpsonsfans) September 4, 2019
“I like to put my feet up” pic.twitter.com/78cbHiwkN7
Joking aside, none of these aristocrats and capitalists playing with our future will pay the price for, or are at any risk of, any catastrophe they may unleash. In fact, many of them—disaster capitalists as they are—will benefit from it.
The truth is the current crisis has been building for a very long time, and is laying bare deep, structural problems with British political institutions.
As one of the few quality commentators left at The Guardian, Aditya Chakrabortty, put it in a piece this morning:
The master-text on the moment we’re in was published nearly 20 years ago. Coping With Post-Democracy was an alarm sounded by the British political scientist Colin Crouch towards the end of Tony Blair’s first term as prime minister. He coined the term “post-democracy” to refer to a country that still had its ballot boxes and elected chamber and rowdy journalists - only all were being drained of meaning. Democracy, argued Crouch, “thrives when there are major opportunities for the mass of ordinary people to participate”.
But the post-democratic order he saw taking shape was “a tightly controlled spectacle managed by rival teams of professional experts in the techniques of persuasion”, in which the interests of multinationals and big businesses would always trump “the political importance of ordinary working people”, especially with the withering away of unions.
From here it was a short step to today’s Westminster of “retail politics”, parties touting their “offer” and the apparatus of marketing. For a while, the sorcerers of the new post-democratic system could buy our consent, as long as house prices kept rising and cheap credit could be thrust down our throats. But then came the banking crisis, which just showed our debt was the financiers’ credit and that they would always collect.
Or, as Novara Media’s James Butler put it:
Political bedlam in the UK has involved a bonfire of liberal/whiggish illusions about the formal institutions that rule us - we don't need to 'restore' democracy in this country, we need to reimagine it from the bottom up. Vital piece by @piercepenniless https://t.co/pkOihgy3bz pic.twitter.com/UEiT8lVvZV— Jack Shenker (@hackneylad) September 3, 2019
The country urgently needs a socialist government under Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour. It needs the refurbishment of its deeply undemocratic ‘democratic’ institutions and systems that his grassroots-focused and egalitarian administration will bring. The alternative is a ruinous continuation of utter misery and a gift to the rising far-right. As we head into a potentially even more turbulent day in the Commons, there is everything to play for…
Header Image Source: Getty Images