As someone currently in the thick of manic creative hysteria – don’t think that’s a recognised syndrome, but it should be – I can sympathise with the increasingly-detached-from-reality mania afflicting the Remainer majority at Westminster; well, to a point. My own experience is of hammering at this bloody keyboard for hours at a time, desperately trying to transcribe the relentless flow of words pouring out of my fevered head with the same speed they appear in it; even when I take a break and try to unwind with brown bread and eggs (hearty meals not being conducive to the condition), I have a notepad beside me, for I cannot switch off. I’ve been like this for about a fortnight now, and it’s exhausting as well as mind-altering. You really do inhabit a world of your own making, one in which normal rules do not apply. It would seem I’m not alone.
Over the last three years, attempts to overturn the result of the 2016 EU Referendum by the losing side have gone from street protest to Project Fear to Second Referendum to where we are now, a new video game called ‘Fantasy Prime Minister’. In this, the player gets to choose which MP he or she would rather have in 10 Downing Street than the man who’s been there for less than a month. The player can pick from the incumbent Leader of the Opposition ol’ Jezza or the Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson; they can pick the sole Green in the team, Caroline Lucas; or they can even opt for a couple of veterans who were never elected leaders of their respective parties, Ken Clarke and Harriet Harman. Once a prospective PM is selected, the player then engages in a series of gripping constitutional crises, battling for the right to replace an unelected premier with an unelected premier.
In order to derail what appears to be a determined No Deal ‘crashing out’ (© ‘Newsnight’) policy being pursued by Boris and the Brexiteers (great Merseybeat band name), Remainers have this week scaled unprecedented peaks of foaming-at-the-mouth fantasies they seriously believe will rescue us from ruin in the event of Boris being defeated in an expected no confidence vote. A Government of National Unity is one phrase we’ve heard a lot, but a country as disunited as ours currently is means such an administration would require representation from both ends of the great divide to truly unify; and nobody proposing the National Unity concept is proposing that. A Government of Remain Unity would be more accurate. When Caroline Lucas put forward her amusing idea of a middle-class ‘mumsnet’ Cabinet led by her in full headmistress mode, the only issue her side of the divide took with the notion was the absence of ‘women of colour’ from the line-up. The mind-boggling undemocratic ludicrousness of the proposal wasn’t a problem, apparently.
National Unity was much-discussed in the inconclusive wake of the February 1974 General Election, but Ted Heath’s proposals for coalition with Jeremy Thorpe’s Liberals floundered and Harold Wilson led Labour back to power with a minority administration. An actual peacetime ‘National’ Government comprising members from all three major parties had, of course, existed from 1931 until the outbreak of the Second World War; and though initially led by Labour’s Ramsay MacDonald, it was overwhelmingly Tory-dominated, as would’ve been any Heath/Thorpe coalition in 1974 and as indeed was the coalition led by Lloyd George in the aftermath of WWI. We don’t even have to go back that far to discern the imbalance in most coalition administrations and how the ultimate aim is more a case of the largest party keeping out the opposition rather than any noble aspiration to save the nation.
Jeremy Corbyn’s brainwave of playing the part of a caretaker PM to prevent the Halloween deadline coming to pass before then calling a General Election which he assumes he will win is bonkers, but at least he is the leader of the second largest party in the Commons. He is, however, dependent on disgruntled Tory backbenchers to achieve this aim, and while Enoch Powell may have advocated voting Labour in 1974, today’s Remainer Tories feel this is a rebellion too far.
Anyway, Jezza’s own ambiguous stance on the EU has been a hindrance to any successful exploitation by Labour of the Conservative divisions over the issue, and this clearly rankles with Jo Swinson, who doesn’t seem keen on the prospect of Corbyn at No.10, even if it means another Brexit delay is more likely. But then, the Lib Dem leader has been quite brazen that it’s her intention to prevent Brexit altogether, so merely kicking the date we leave back into the long grass yet again just isn’t good enough. The notion of giving the gig to Clarke or Harman is seen by Swinson as a genuinely realistic alternative to Corbyn. I mean, yes, good old Ken is the Father of the House and everyone’s favourite jazz-loving, hush puppy-wearing Tory uncle; but get real. As for Ms Harperson – come on!
But this is where we are. So intense is the panic amongst the hardcore Remainers now, nothing is deemed too fantastical. Caroline Lucas included Nicola Sturgeon in her fantasy Cabinet, and the First Minister isn’t even an MP. Why stop at nominating a prominent Remainer who at least happens to be a politician (albeit in the wrong parliament), though? Why not send out the call to Gary Lineker? Brian Cox? Greta Thunberg? And, no doubt, Chuka Umunna would be up for it too – how many parties has he been a member of this year? Anyway, this dream Guardian Government would revoke Article 50, reverse the Referendum result and deliver the same kind of ‘fuck you’ to 17 million members of the electorate as they themselves received three years ago. Lest we forget, the electorate will have no say at all – just as they didn’t when Boris succeeded Theresa. Why let such unnecessary annoyances like the electorate get in the way of democracy, though?
Considering we’re marking the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre this week – an event regarded as a watershed moment on the long and winding road to universal suffrage – it’s ironic that we’re currently watching politicians attempting to seize power (or hold onto it) without any involvement from voters at all. With the Government reduced to a majority of one, of course, it’s inevitable we’ll see a General Election before the scheduled date of 2022, probably before the end of this year; but what happens in the months leading up to the hustings appears to be being scripted by Chris Morris. I might regard myself as a bit fanatical at the moment – and if anyone could observe me during this breathless creative process they’d probably conclude I’m a bit ‘frazzled’. Compared to that lot down Westminster way, however, I feel confident I’d receive a clean bill of health. If I could get an appointment at my local GPs surgery, of course. Which, needless to say, I can’t. Welcome to 2019. It’s mad.
© The Editor