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Index: British politics


Michael Blackburn: ‘The liberal society pictured here is in truth a fractured society, and we know that homogeneity is more desirable because more stable. The relationship between the sovereign individual and society is one of constant tension and conflict. Unfortunately the ochlocracy tends to prevail.’

A respectable case for Brexit.

Nick O’Hear: ‘When things go wrong the EU can be pitiless. The Greeks are in a dreadful mess. Unemployment is 21 per cent, but youth unemployment is a catastrophic 45 per cent. Even if much it was their own doing, they have amassed a mountain of debt (180 per cent of GDP) with consequent failing public services. Austerity won’t get them out of this.’

Whistleblower Lit.

Anthony Howell: ‘We live in bewildering and depressing times. Recently, Labour’s victory in the local election was spun as a defeat in all the mainstream papers, even those papers that are supposedly inclined towards socialism. The BBC, which used to host satirical programmes and intense contrarian debates, is now perceived simply as a mouthpiece for government, with prospective employees routinely vetted by our secret services to ensure they adhere to the government line. ITV is little better. Gone are the vivid days of “Spitting Image”.’

‘Adieu’ is how the French pronounce ‘Brexit’.

Edouard Tétreau [from Le Figaro]: Brexit is also very good news for France and French diplomacy. It will not change the remarkable and close-knit joint military ventures between the UK and France, in operation since the Lancaster House Treaties. But it will allow France – along with Germany – to instil into the EU a less interventionist foreign policy. This diplomacy was present in the Iraq War, supported by Tony Blair, and in NATO’s eastward push to Ukraine, reawakening Russian paranoia.

England as a pelting farm.

Michael Blackburn: ‘This is Labour’s attempt to look like it’s facing up to a problem and intending to fix it. Except it’s a con. The anti-English, anti-patriotic impulse is now so ingrained in the modern left it will be impossible to get rid of it even if they depose the ultra-left, Brit-hating Corbyn currently in charge. ‘

A history lesson for Hilary Benn and Yvette Cooper.

Denis Boyles: ‘European unification is a constant thread running through all our postwar decades. Reading accounts of twentieth-century Europe, you can’t help notice how little the Continental political class has been affected by the massive storms that have broken over her. The worldview of the European political elites is the same now as it has always been. The growth — usually predicated on various claims of urgency and necessity — of government and the inevitably consequent centralization of power have a persistent gravity all their own. ‘

The far side of Farage.

Michael Blackburn: ‘ Contrary to the media portrayal of him, Robinson emerges from his descriptions of these experiences as a level-headed and generous man who would rather live in peace with his neighbours than be in conflict with them. Perhaps if he were more Middle England he wouldn’t be treated so badly: “Lads like me march and we’re thugs. Middle class tweedies march and the nation is speaking.” It’s the class thing again.’

Scottish independence — as seen from Orkney.

Nigel Wheale: ‘The contours of the debate change from day to day—I read new contributions yesterday, and nearly changed my mind. On 19 September, the conversation will not stop, it has only just begun. A reformation is needed, and urgently; the Scottish referendum argument has opened up so many possibilities for a properly democratic, federalist, responsive future – for everyone. Borders once invented and imposed so confidently are now contested, erased, become meaningless, through the aggressions and oppositions that they created in the first place. Populations move across the Sykes/Picot line in the sand, because it has become just precisely that.’

In England, Cameron promises a referendum on the EU…

Patricia Ferguson, Scottish Labour’s constitutional spokeswoman: ‘How can threatening to leave one union – the UK – be good for Scottish investment, as Alex Salmond has repeatedly claimed, but holding a referendum on Europe creates uncertainty? Her lack of self-awareness is astonishing. The SNP cannot even guarantee if a separate Scotland would be a member of the EU.’