Hostages of English nationalism

Over the weekend, travellers trying to catch a ferry to France from Dover faced delays of up to fourteen hours as the port struggled to cope with the increased traffic of holidaymakers over the Easter break, which came on top of the increased customs and passport checks necessitated by Brexit. Last year the British government rejected a £33m proposal to double passport booths at Dover, instead choosing to blame the French for delays at the port, that traditional stand-by of the rabid English nationalist – when there’s any issue at all, blame the French. Of course if the French are indeed responsible for the mess in Dover, it does tend to trash any claim that Brexit means that”we” have taken back control. The lengthy delays which we are seeing this weekend happened last year too during the holiday rush so it’s not like the British authorities can claim that they were unexpected. Instead the Conservatives have preferred to prattle on about ‘taking control of our borders’ blaming the French, and demonising asylum seekers. Anything rather than admit that Brexit has been a disaster from beginning to end. It’s not even as if the Tories can pretend now that Brexit is a good idea which has been implemented poorly, not that they’d want to go down that path anyway, since they are the ones responsible for the implementation.

In an interview on the Laura Kuenssberg programme on BBC One this weekend the Home Secretary Suella Braverman denied that the delays have anything to do with Brexit, instead blaming a ‘particular combination of factors’ including the weather, but not Brexit, oh no, not Brexit. She claimed that the delays were it was “ultimately an issue for the ferry companies.” So not her fault at all then. Glad you cleared that up for us Suella. We are now in a place where Conservative government ministers go on TV and shamelessly and blatantly lie, while the broadcaster which is supposed to be holding power to account instead acts to amplify and spread the lies and self-serving delusion. Brexit has become the sacred cow of British politics, it cannot be questioned or challenged, no matter how self-evident the harm that it causes. In order to distract from Brexit’s many failures, the Conservatives have turned to a grotesque theatre of cruelty designed to pander to the basest instincts of the English nationalist right and the tabloid press and burgeoning right wing broadcast media which feeds it and nurtures its imaginary grievances and conspiracy theories against ‘Europe’, against asylum seekers’ against ‘the woke’.

Suella’s credibility lacking denial that the long queues have anything to do with Brexit came as the Home Secretary embarked on a round of media appearances with the aim of promoting her sick plans to ship asylum seekers off to an authoritarian dictatorship in Central Africa. When reminded that only five years ago, 12 refugees from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo were killed by police in Rwanda during protests about their treatment. Braverman denied that she was familiar with the case, but if you plan to make shipping asylum seekers off to Rwanda the cornerstone of your migration policy you might think that you’d start by having a wee look at how the Rwandan authorities treat asylum seekers and refugees. But not if you are Suella Braverman, obviously. She has no more interest in how Rwanda treats refugees than she does in how her local authority treats rubbish once she has dumped it in the bin, because that is exactly her attitude to vulnerable and desperate human beings. To her they are just so much problematic trash and Rwanda is merely a convenient bin into which they can be discarded and forgotten about. The Conservatives are no longer even pretending that there is any need for basic human decency.

The Tories’ much vaunted Levelling Up programme will not have any marked impact. The government has spent less than 10% of its £4.8bn levelling up fund since it was launched in 2020 and many projects have not started, but they do nothing to alleviate the cost of living crisis and falling standards of living for which Brexit bears a large part of the blame. So instead the Conservatives turn to kicking the most vulnerable and to demonising the poor, the low paid and minorities. This isn’t just confined to asylum seekers. There is a clear pattern of identifying groups which are unable to or unlikely to vote (or which, are less likely to vote Tory and ‘othering’ them and positioning them as scapegoats. Creating a demonised group – young people and rough sleepers fall into this category, as well as asylum seekers – and then announcing a crackdown on them is a cheap way to send a dog whistle to the core Tory vote. It’s the politics of moral bankruptcy. Human decency and the Conservative party are mutually exclusive.

Meanwhile Labour is as shamelessly complicit as the Tories in its refusal to face up to the damage of Brexit and to challenge the moral depths which the Conservatives are plumbing. Starmer knows that his route to Downing Street depends upon pandering to those same victimhood seeking instincts of the English nationalist right. If he does win a majority in the Commons at the next Westminster General Election he will make no concessions to a Scotland which is already resented by the English nationalists upon whom he depends for power. Labour is far too concerned about rebuilding the so-called red wall to point out, never mind commit to reversing, the insanity of Brexit and the cruel excesses of the Conservatives. We are all of us being held hostage to the delusions of English nationalism but the majority of the Scottish media is far more interested in scoring petty points against the SNP than in highlighting the moral and political collapse of that British state which it is so desperate to keep Scotland a part of. What Starmer is trying to do now is exactly the same trick that Blair and Brown pulled off in the 1990s, making the Labour party electable by turning it into a version of the Tories. In Scotland the Labour and Conservative parties are propping one another up in local authorities and there are reports that the Tories will urge their supporters to vote Labour in key constituencies in order to “end nationalist dominance” in Scotland – in order to maintain Anglo-British nationalist dominance in other words.

Asked about the reports SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said : “Neither Labour nor the Tories are “even pretending to care about Scotland’s interests anymore. Quite frankly, it’s a struggle to spot the difference between the Tories and Labour – the pro-Brexit, pro-cuts, anti-Scottish democracy Labour Party is a pale imitation of the right-wing Tories.” Scottish independence is a moral imperative.


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