The Longest Day, The Shortest Year
The Longest Day, The Shortest Year
It is a year today since we voted to leave the European Union. Yesterday we celebrated mid-summer. We thought we would celebrate 23rd June as Independence Day, as a great revolutionary moment in the nation's history, an anniversary in Europe'e history, but nothing much has happened.
We have to call this the shortest year because its history can be written in just a few words: Article 50 was, at last, triggered and, just this week, negotiations open. During this year the May provisional government has given time for every wheeze of Gina Miller and her backers and has done its very best to lose an election and certainly sits with severely weakened authority and further diminished will.
A revolutionary moment? Hardly. Power has not shifted. No one new is in control. We have a remain Prime Minister who does not know what leadership is, who considers Brexit to be an administrative function and not a rebirth of a nation's democratic life, we have a remain Chancellor who is allowed to have gone rogue, we have a largely remain government with a largely remain parliamentary party. Not even the forlorn candidates were majority leave. The BBC is still loyal to Brussels. In a proper revolution, the new power seizes the airport, secures the borders, seizes the state TV station, it takes control of education, the civil service are disbanded or re-educated - and it kills the old emperor and his family.
I recently heard one of House of Elliot's data miners defend himself: "Our job was just to help get a majority vote in the referendum, the rest of it is up to you guys!"
He was absolutely right. The problem is two fold. We do not know who "we guys" are - who is the Brexit movement? And we do not know what "the rest of it " is - we do not have a conception of Brexit as a full, revolutionary, process.
We imagined that the referendum was it, that the refendum result was all there was to a national decision. We imagined that power could remain but would be obedient to the result, that the gentlemen playing cricket would walk or at least honour the umpire. Now, as Brexit slips away, we are left crying that it is not fair, we won the referendum.
You might say I am unreasonably impatient. The people of the Crimea rejected the changes represented by the Euro-Maidan, decided by referendum and asserted their independence from Ukraine and then applied for membership of and were associated into the Russian Federation all within a month. You might say that in Britain we do not do things quite that hastily, we like to have a cup of tea and think about things first. Well Russians drink tea and their national word is zavtra but we have had a year of dithering. A whole year!
Why this dithering? Maybe we needed a year so that HMG could establish a national ideology of Brexit, to consolidate the dream, to not just win the continuity war of ideas but establish intellectual conquest of all those dubious young remainers. We did need it but that has not happened, has it? Theresa May is so bereft of Brexit idea that in her "Brexit election" she not only had nothing to say about Brexit, no leadership, but it was forbidden to discuss what we hoped of negotiation at all. A sterile statement about customs union and trade deals were all we got - as if that was what it was all about. Civil liberties, EAW for instance, was totally verboten.
We must take the blame ourselves. We allowed the referendum campaign to be conducted by a government-selected glorified advertising agency rather than an authentic political movement. And this was necessary since we had been too lazy to organise such. Even that has been disbanded. UKIP was always a hazzard to shipping but even that has been, effectively, disbanded (or at least totally incapable of performing any political role).
Our need is clear: we need to organise now so that there is an effective political force describing and asserting Brexit. Or else the referendum will fade and we will be asked:
Brexit? What Brexit?