Sunday 19 January 2014

The death of euroscepticism

I need not go to any lengths to qualify myself as a euro-sceptic. I find the Tories deceptions on the EU as crass and distasteful as any Ukiper. But I cannot support that party. The dogmatic and rude behavior of its members is a huge turn off. Just lately I had Ukipers accuse me of being a "europhile Marxist" for daring to criticise Nigel Farage. These are not serious people and they are not on the same planet as the rest of us.

I also know that Ukip is not a winning party. I have maintained for a long time that populism has a glass ceiling in terms of appeal, and the more you go down that line, the uglier it becomes. Ukipers used to suspect infiltrators sabotaging the party, but now the other parties don't need to bother. Ukip does that all by itself.

But then Ukip is a cul-de-sac anyway. It's unique selling point is EU withdrawal but has nothing to offer in place of it. Sure, they have policies but they are along the same old tired lines of spend a bit more here, spend a bit less there, with some other fringe tinkerings without any intellectual substance. It has no coherent overarching vision.

If you were to listen to the mood music, there is a strong desire for fundamental change in the UK. But Ukip is not that fundamental change. I have said it many times, but most Ukipers think that EU withdrawal alone will take us to sunlit uplands. This is not grown up politics.

Thirty years of integration is not undone over night, and isolationism is not an option, nor is the scorched earth libertarian view of letting the chips fall where they may. In many cases international regulation is not a barrier to trade, but a facilitator. What matters is having a voice in who makes it and how.

But aside from the technical minutia which seems beyond the grasp of the average Ukiper, there is an appetite not just for change, but for a revolution. Just about anyone I talk to thinks the current regime is running as much on borrowed time as it is borrowed money. Yet not one single party is offering real change or offering us a real voice in how we are governed - and who we are governed by. Nobody has a blueprint for a new society, nor a means to achieve it. Unless such is on offer, I cannot see myself moved to vote for anyone. We need fresh ideas based on a coherent philosophy, not a rag-bag of reactionary policies with no connecting thread.

We are never going to arrive at a set of policies that everyone can get behind - and that is why no new party can ever win. This is why we have a political process, to hammer out compromise. The problem being that the process we have no longer works and is corrupted beyond redemption. We need a new framework for governance and an agenda for change.

However, such will be achieved not by the ballot box. Too many have a vested interest in maintaining the status-quo. It will come about through becoming ungovernable, as I have set upon with this A&S Police trial. (which most of you couldn't be any less interested in, and would rather "re-tweet" Nigel Farage if he so much as farts).

My view is that they cannot spend what they do not have, and frustrating their means of collecting funds gives us more power than any vote does. Shouting at one another over Twitter and forming tribes behind celebrity politicians is more part of the problem than the solution.

It is for this reason, I am rooting for a total implosion of the Ukip vote (which is inevitable at this rate), and I will do what I can to help bring it forth, so that something worthwhile can rise from the ashes. What we want is real democracy, where we are listened to, we run our own affairs and we say how much of our money they can take - and what they can spend it on. A vision whereby leaving the EU is not the end in itself, more a necessary stepping stone on the way to something bigger and better. The EU will die of its own accord eventually but without something to fill the vacuum, we won't enjoy any greater freedom.

This is why most of my efforts will be directed at The Harrogate Agenda from here on in, and we have an interesting year ahead of us.

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