|Articles By Author|
|Articles By Magazine|
|Articles By Subject|
|Full Text Search|
|Aubane Historical Society|
|The Heresiarch Website|
|Athol Books Online Sales|
|Athol Books Home Page|
|Archive Of Articles From Church & State|
|Archive Of Editorials From Church & State|
|Archive Of Articles From Irish Political Review|
|Archive Of Editorials From Irish Political Review|
|Belfast Historical & Educational Society|
|Athol Books Secure Online Sales|
|Irish Writer Desmond Fennell|
|The Bevin Society|
|David Morrison's Website|
|From: Church & State: Editorials|
|Date: July, 0001|
Editorial England: Behind The Veil
England: Behind The Veil
England has ditched the Prime Minister who took it out of the European Union, renewed the Labour base of the Tory Party, and engineered the production of an anti-Covid vaccine by decisive Government action. It has not yet decided what his successor is to be.
During the brief Johnston period, Ulster Unionism has become a player in British politics in a way that it never was before, and it is present in the British media as never before. And, unlike the SDLP, it is present as a participant, not as a complainant.
The Irish Protocol of the Brexit arrangement is in the doldrums. Johnston was determined to override it with British legislation. His earliest Tory critics appeared to be committed to enforcing it, but it is impossible to say whether they were just using it as a stick to beat him with, or were in earnest about establishing an economic border between Britain and Northern Ireland.
The former Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny, apparently sold to the de facto EU leader Angela Merkel the idea that the Partition of Ireland was of a kind with the 1945 Partition of Germany. That was a very great delusion.
The Partition of Germany had nothing to do with the Germans. The Border was the meeting point between the two invading Armies that broke the power of the Nazi State—the Russian and the American—but which were in disagreement with each other at least as much as they had been with Hitler. It had nothing to do with the Germans. The two states did not represent two peoples.
The Irish Partition was in substance the product of a conflict between two peoples. It had been in development, through internal conflict within Ireland, for about 90 years before its formal establishment in 1921. A better line of division could have been drawn. A better form of government could have been established on the Northern side. But the division existed on the ground, and it could have been overcome in political arrangements only by war—British war against the colony it had established in Ulster four centuries ago and which had taken root, or war between the South and the North.
When the East German State was dissolved, its people had grounds for complaint about the conduct of the West German State, but there was no hint of national resistance to the unification.
The EU leaders bought Enda Kenny's story so easily because they wanted a way to punish Britain for its wanton act of leaving the Union. Over the decades they had bent over backwards, almost to the point of toppling, in granting Britain exceptions from the rules, and the thanks they got was that the British left it—with the obvious purpose of setting up in business against it. They did not understand that to British eyes they were all loser countries—countries they had defeated over the centuries, which had been remade into fanciful new forms just the other day. Britain's destiny was not to become one of them, as if it too had exhausted its sense of national destiny.
At a moment when the Westminster Parliament was on strike against the Whitehall Government, Brussels negotiated a Brexit Agreement with it which placed the Customs Border of the Union between Britain and Northern Ireland, and it declared that Agreement to have he status of International Law.
Whitehall let that opinion be for the moment in order to restore the formal position of Parliamentary Sovereignty. When that was achieved, the Northern Ireland Secretary announced that International Law would be broken on the ground of necessity in order to deal with the intolerable situation brought about by the Protocol. One of Johnston's last acts as Prime Minister was to introduce a Bill giving Government Ministers "Henry the Eighth powers" for dealing with obstructive elements of the Protocol.
The British State began with Henry The Eighth and it has never lost contact with him. He took Britain out of the European consensus, and established the minor strand of Protestant dissent in Europe into the ideology of an anti-European Empire. Parliament was a Council of nobles which he used in governing. At his bidding, Parliament recognised him as head of the Church in England and declared England to be an Empire—an absolutely independent sovereignty.
After a crushing defeat in 1945 of the states which had joined Germany in the invasion of Russia in 1941, Britain treated attempts at European union with good-natured contempt. It soon found that, with American encouragement, a European structure had developed independently of it which would undermine its tried-and-tested Balance of Power method of keeping Europe down. It applied for membership, but was twice rejected by the founders, De Gaulle and Adenauer, on the grounds that its interests were hostile to European interests. When the founders were no longer in command, England found a Prime Minister who had taken part in some winding-up measures of the Empire and was convinced that English destiny was exhausted. Ted Heath believed that England must again reduce itself to the status of a European state.
Heath gained British entry into Europe, and was promptly dismissed from the Tory leadership by Margaret Thatcher, who quickly made it clear that Britain was not in Europe for the purpose of losing itself in it.
There followed about 45 years during which Britain diverted Europe from most of its original purpose, fostered delusions of grandeur in it, and encouraged its random expansions into countries with which it had little in common culturally.
Britain failed to prevent the formation of a common European currency, though excluding itself from it. And a moment was reached, under a Labour Government, when the fateful step of joining the Euro was on the agenda. Tony Blair, in his phase of random radicalism, was for it, but his Chancellor, Gordon Brown, established a set of economic standards that must be met before Sterling—the currency with which the world market was constructed—was sucked into the Euro. These standards were not met, and were not intended to be met.
Joining the Euro would have been the point of no return. Gordon Brown was to the fore in the anti-Brexit movement a few years later, but it was he who had made it possible by preserving Sterling.
The possibility of separate destiny was saved while European sentiment was strong. The middle classes, remembering what English tradesmen had been like, could not bear the thought of losing their diligent and hardworking replacements from Eastern Europe. When the heartland Tories agitated for Brexit, Prime Minister Cameron decided to squash them for good by putting the matter to referendum in the certainty that it would be rejected.
Voting in a referendum is different in kind from voting in the election of a Government. It gives power to the populace to make a decision of State according to their heart's desire. And the populace did not feel that English Destiny had outlived itself, and that in future England would only have a glorious past.
Brexit was ordained by the will of the people but Parliament, elected in a previous era, refused to legislate it. It went on strike against the Government. The backbenches even persuaded themselves that Parliamentary Sovereignty meant government by Parliament as a committee.
The official formula is government by the Crown in Parliament, with the Prime Minister exercising the authority of the Crown.
A majority in Parliament refused to let the Crown legislate the decision of the referendum—arguing that the voters had been misled by certain things told to them by the advocates of Brexit, as if that was something novel in democratic conduct. That majority asserted the right to do the governing itself. But it was a mixum-gatherum majority, unable to agree on anything but a refusal to legislate for Brexit.
It refused to let the Government govern, or to appoint an alternative Government, or to let the Prime Minister call a General Election.
That situation lasted until the Scots Nationalists gave a majority to Boris Johnston to hold a General Election. And it was under these conditions that the Brexit terms had to be negotiated.
EU politicians might protest that the toils in which the British Parliament got itself knotted were none of its business. But they had, because of a refusal to understand the nature of the British State, admitted a Tartar to their ranks, and they have to bear the consequences.
The Scots Nationalists allowed the Government to put the Referendum result to the test of a General Election, which the purposeful Brexit element of the Tory Party won handsomely. But the Party had not engaged in a re-selection process of candidates and therefore a substantial Remainer element remained in the Parliamentary Party.
The great increase in Tory representation was achieved at the expense of the Labour Party in traditional Labour strongholds which were Brexit in sentiment.
The Labour Party was led by Jeremy Corbyn, a traditional Left Socialist who was unconnected with either Trotskyist or Communist organisations. There had been many MPs of that kind, but as they retired or died off, they were not replaced.
Corbyn was elected Leader because the Blairites in a fit of hubris had given the general membership of the Party the decision of who should be Leader. Corbyn, an authentic Left Socialist of the old school, was elected because what he believed earnestly was still retained in the general rhetoric of the Party, and the members—presented with an ideal candidate—elected him.
The Parliamentary Party, which no longer believed a word that it said, was shocked by having a believer thrust on it as Leader, and it went on strike—refusing Front Bench positions in the Shadow Cabinet.
Corbyn was a Brexiteer by instinct and tradition. The Labour Left had seen British entry into Europe as a measure by which British Capitalism—under some pressure from Socialism at home—strengthened its hand in the class struggle. But Corbyn was persuaded to adopt an evasive policy on Brexit in the Election. And, at the end of the Party Conference, Sir Keir Starmer, who had accepted a Front Bench position, made a strong speech committing the Party to holding a second Referendum, in order to cancel out the result of the first Referendum.
Labour fought the 2019 Election with Sir Keir's policy, not Corbyn's, and the Tory Brexiteers broke through the Red Wall, capturing long-standing Labour strongholds. Corbyn resigned the leadership. Sir Keir, presenting himself as a Corbynite, was elected Leader. His first action was to expel Corbyn from the Parliamentary Party on the outlandish grounds that he was an anti-Semite. The Party Executive restored Corbyn to Party membership, but Sir Keir withheld the Party Whip from him in Parliament—creating the situation that a Party member in good standing could be elected to Parliament and be denied membership of the Party in Parliament by the Leader.
The Leader then instituted a purge of the Party membership which is being implemented by Israeli Intelligence. Party members who can be found not to have been unconditionally supportive of the imposition of a Jewish State on the predominantly non-Jewish population of Palestine, and of its conquests and colonisations, can be expelled summarily.
The connection between the Labour Party and organised labour in the country, which had been wearing thin for twenty years and more, has been broken by Sir Keir. Political Labour no longer has a special relationship with working labour in the country. No relationship of any kind is now acknowledged, even though the Deputy Leader, Angela Rainer, is allowed to indulge in an old-fashioned rant against "scummy" Tory gentry.
Labour as a distinctive element in British life now exists only in the form of the Trade Unions. And the Trade Unions have taken the hint from Sir Keir and are beginning to treat the Party that calls itself Labour as just another middle class party, and are ending their financial connections with it.
The reason Boris Johnston has been removed from the Tory Party leadership seems to be that he was intent on consolidating the ground which he won from Labour in the election. He wants to cater to the new working-class constituency of the Tory Party.
But many Tory Brexiteers did not see that as the purpose of Brexit. They envisage Britain becoming once again a lean fighting animal in the world of international capitalism. Johnston was delivering the wrong kind of Brexit for them and so they made common ground with the Remainers to remove him from Office.
This development shows once again that the Tory Party is the national party of the state. It is where the major matters at issue in the state are fought out.
Harold Wilson said in the 1970s that Labour had become "the natural Party of power" in Britain. He tried his best to make it so. He tried to bend the course of events towards Socialism with his Royal Commission on Workers' Control. The Commission made realistic proposals, but the Labour movement refused to implement them. It said that management was the business of the managers, not of the Trade Unions—meaning that Capitalism was the business of the Capitalists and it would not be drawn into it. That opened the way for Thatcherism.
The socialist dimension of the Labour Party has been withering away ever since. It is unimaginable that major issues of State should be threshed out within Sir Keir's Party.
How the Tory Party reaches its decisions has always been a mystery. But, anyway, there is something mysterious in decision-making as such. All the pros and cons can be set out at length without ever reaching a decision.
In the end a decision is an act of will determined by something like instinct.
Tory leaders used not be elected. They somehow emerged out of "the magic circle".
Kipling, the English national poet, put it this way:
The Celt in all his variants from Builth to Ballyhoo,
His mental processes are plain one knows what he will do,
And can logically predicate his finish by his start;
But the English ah, the English! they are quite a race apart.
Their psychology is bovine, their outlook crude and raw.
They abandon vital matters to be tickled with a straw;
But the straw that they were tickled with, the chaff that they were fed with,
They convert into a weaver’s beam to break their foeman’s head with.
For undemocratic reasons and for motives not of State,
They arrive at their conclusions largely inarticulate.
Being void of self-expression they confide their views to none;
But sometimes in a smoking-room, one learns why things were done.
Yes, sometimes in a smoking-room, through clouds of “Ers” an “Ums,”
Obliquely and by inference, illumination comes,
On some step that they have taken, or some action they approve
Embellished with the argot of the Upper Fourth Remove.
In telegraphic sentences half nodded to their friends,
They hint a matter’s inwardness and there the matter ends.
And while the Celt is talking from Valencia to Kirkwall,
The English ah, the English! don’t say anything at all.
Johnston, in his good-humoured and rather disdainful retirement speech, said that the Tory herd was moved by instinct, and that there was no resisting the movement of the herd.
There was, of course, a sex angle—a homosexual sex angle—an up-to-date sex angle. A minor Tory Minister felt another Tory male's hottom. And Johnston was accused of lying about his knowledge of the matter.
At a moment when it seemed that Johnston would not resign, it was put to the Labour Party that it should propose a motion of No Confidence in him. It refused. Winning a motion of No Confidence would have precipitated an Election with Johnston still in place.
After Johnston resigned the Tory leadership but undertook, in the usual way, to remain as Prime Minster until the Election of a new leader, Labour threatened to propose a motion of No Confidence in order to prevent him from being caretaker Prime Minister. This was an empty threat. The Tory Party, having got its way over the Party leadership, was certain to defeat it.
The Irish Protocol is thrown back in the melting-pot, pending the election of a new Tory leader.
Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill cannot take up the position of First Minister of Her Majesty's Northern Ireland Government—a first for the nationalist community—until the DUP is satisfied that the Protocol has been subordinated to the guarantee of the integrity of the United Kingdom given by the Good Friday Agreement.
The German newspaper, Der Spiegel, is bewildered by the triviality of the incident that brought Johnston down. Lord Macaulay, the great Liberal ideologue who gave the bourgeois liberalism of the Victorian era its particular tone of voice, but could on occasion stand back and take a Johnstonite look at it, remarked: "We know of no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality".