Richard North, 08/09/2019  
 


One of the comments which grabbed my attention this weekend was in the Observer article reporting on an opinion poll which showed that the Tories had extended their lead over Labour to ten percent, despite a "chaotic week".

The money quote came from Adam Drummond, the head of political polling at Opinium, the organisation that had produced the poll result. Reviewing the fragility of the data contributing to the poll, he concluded that: "We're facing unprecedented times in Westminster, and it's very difficult to predict what will happen in the next few days, let alone further beyond".

That is not only true now. It's been true for a while, making intelligent commentary on this blog increasingly difficult to deliver. The noise level is so high that it is swamping whatever coherent signals there might be, while the conflicting viewpoints and events create such extremes that one can scarcely reconcile the opposing arguments. There is simply no common ground.

It is tempting under these circumstances to stand back and let the noise-makers do their worst, holding off until coherent signals re-emerge and it becomes possible to offer a sensible commentary. But the danger here is that if one takes time out and lets the roller coaster thunder down, it is too easy to lose the thread altogether, never to pick it up again.

Then there is the question of loyalty to a growing readership. After the summer dip, which happens every year, hit rate is reaching new records, occasionally touching a daily level close to 75,000. This makes us a serious player, even if most of the legacy media want to pretend we don't exist, but it brings with it a responsibility to deliver.

For all that, while one accepts that this torture must eventually end, there is no obvious end point, or even a scenario which could be taken as a consensus position that would give a sense of closure. As a result, there are those who would like to press the reset button, taking us back to pre-23 June 2016, whence we could revert to "normal" and pretend nothing had happened.

Sadly, the Humpty-Dumpty nursery rhyme conveys the greater truth on this matter: Humpty-Dumpty sat on the wall; Humpty-Dumpty had a great fall; all the King's horses and all the King's men couldn't put Humpty together again.

What has been done cannot be undone – there is no turning back. Even were it politically feasible to resume our membership of the EU, I cannot see any means by which the UK could ever take a functional part in the affairs of the Union.

We are thus left to choose a different path, or have one chosen for us. But the problem here is that the no-deal scenario being pursued by Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is a non-solution. His insistence that we should get Brexit "done" and see it "over the line" is vacuous sloganising which has little relevance to the real world.

However, compared with the ambiguity of the Labour position, the siren call that we should "just leave" comes over as a model of clarity, matched only by the Lib-Dems who are equally unequivocal, albeit from the opposite point of view.

That we have ended up with unrealistic binary options, having lost the middle ground of the "soft" Efta/EEA option, represents in my view the greatest failure of the political system. And for all those such as Cummings who sneeringly told me I "didn't understand politics", one has to say that had we followed the Flexcit strategy, we'd be out of the EU by now, having saved billions, with our political system still intact.

As it is, we have today's newspapers seriously talking about the prospect of committing a prime minister to prison for disobeying parliament, with no sensible resolution to Brexit in sight. We could do with being wrong more often, pursuing options that actually work.

In the meantime, as we watch the Conservative Party disintegrate, with Amber Rudd resigning from the Cabinet and the Tories in protest at Johnson's handling of Brexit, I suppose we will have to wait until we hit rock bottom, whence we might finally be able to agree on what must be done.

But with angry clashes in Parliament Square yesterday, requiring police intervention and occasioning multiple arrests, there is reason for concern that we've left it too late. The rifts developing in society may not be susceptible to healing.






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