Only a fool would be blithely optimistic about the New Year. Those of us who have been seasoned by many seasons have seen enough old New Years to be cautious of their promises. Experience teaches us that each New Year does not ring out the old in order to ring in the new; it is more likely to wring out the old, hanging it out to dry, so as to recycle it.
I sense, however, that this particular New Year signals a sea change in European politics, heralded by the UK’s “Brexit election” and what it portends. Let’s revisit the election to better understand what it means for the future of the United Kingdom and, equally portentous, for the future of the European Union.
The two most striking aspects of the election were the landslide victory of those advocating Brexit and the almost total collapse of support for those advocating old-style socialism. The triumph of the Conservative Party, riding the wave of Brexit enthusiasm, represented the fifth time that the British electorate had voted to leave the European Union. First had come the astonishing victory of the UK Independence Party in the 2014 European Parliament Election; then came the victory of the Conservatives in the 2015 UK election, largely due to its promise of a referendum on EU membership; third was the Referendum itself; fourth was the victory of the Brexit Party in last May’s European Parliament Election; and, finally, there was last month’s Conservative victory under Boris Johnson’s slogan to “Get Brexit Done.” Particularly striking is that these election victories were achieved in spite of the unified opposition of the plutocratic triumvirate of Big Government, Big Business, and Big Media. As such, the pro-Brexit mandate given to Boris Johnson’s government represents a triumph for true populism and genuine democracy, illustrating the resilience of the British population to media manipulation and the propaganda which is its consequence.
Coupled with the desire of the people of Britain for independence from the imperialism of the European Union was their evident disdain for the old-style socialism and ethno-masochistic posturing of the Labour Party, which saw its vote collapse in dramatic fashion. Especially encouraging was the calamitous collapse of the Labour vote in the traditional working-class heartlands in the north and the midlands. These areas had always voted Labour and were presumed to be safe Labour strongholds. The very fact that these parts of the country could ever vote Conservative would have been quite unthinkable until a few short years ago. Indeed, many political pundits thought it unthinkable right up to this election itself.
All of the foregoing is true of England but not of Scotland, the latter of which voted overwhelmingly for the Scottish National Party. Although the people of Scotland had turned their back on the Labour Party several elections ago, switching their allegiance to the SNP, they have not rejected socialism per se, insofar as the SNP is itself a socialist party, albeit socialism with a nationalist spin. Rather bizarrely, the SNP is strongly in favour of the European Union, preferring to be ruled from Brussels than from Westminster, which makes its nationalism merely provincial, in the literal sense of the word. It seeks freedom from the UK so that it can become a far-flung province of the European Union, shackling itself to the EU’s imperialism.
The SNP’s victory in the election, north of the border, will inevitably rekindle demands for a new referendum on Scottish Independence from the UK (though, as we have seen, not from the EU). This means that the UK is fraying at the edges, which might not necessarily be a bad thing, at least for those who consider themselves Little Englanders and not Great Britishers, and for those who see genuine representative government as a fundamental principle of democracy. True democracy requires the revitalization of local government and the devolution of power away from Big Government and its embryonic globalism. As such, true believers in authentic democracy should demand such devolution of power. The Scots and the English should work towards a future in which both nations become largely self-governing parts of a loose UK confederacy of nations. This would serve the demands of Scottish Independence much more fully than choosing to remain part of a burgeoning, undemocratic and imperialistic European Union. Since, however, the SNP lacks this vision, there is a real danger that Scotland will seek to become a province of the EU following a referendum on independence. Such an eventuality will raise the issue of the border separating England and Scotland, since the people of England will have the right to protect themselves from the free movement of migrants within the EU. If Scotland wants to accept the quota of migrants, mostly from Muslim countries, which the EU imposes on all its members, that’s fair enough, but it can scarcely complain if England protects its own sovereignty and independence by increasing immigration controls on her northern border. This is a worst-case scenario which could and should be avoided.
As for what Brexit means for the European Union, it is to be hoped that it will encourage other nations within the EU to flex their own political muscles, reasserting their right to sovereignty and self-government, so that the peoples and nations of Europe may forge a less autocratic and authoritarian future.
In this particular New Year, we might dare to hope that the ringing out of the old and the ringing in of the new will signal a new dawn for the UK and for Europe.
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The featured image is a picture of the British flag, courtesy of Pixabay.