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View from the bunker

There exist theories that reality is a dream and vice versa; that there is a parallel universe, or indeed several existing simultaneously; that time is a human concept, and only a human concept, devised to explain something else quite different but I cannot quite remember what that was; and, of course, that the Earth is flat.

I had a somewhat busy day yesterday and this morning when I awoke and began my habitual trawl of the news websites, I could not fail to gain the impression that the world has lost its bearings, given what’s going on.

I’d refer you to the following:

The existing world order is running around like a headless chicken in response the UK’s Brexit EU Referendum result. At one and the same time, the UK political elite seems to be giving the impression that it’s now broadly in favour of setting Britain free and leaving the holed-below-the-waterline EU behind to sink to Davy Jones’ locker where it belongs – and yet also finding a way of somehow ending up with all the benefits of EU membership without … er … actually being a member.

Meanwhile the EU seems to be washing its hands of the UK (on the one hand “hurry up and bugger off, now you’ve decided to …”) whilst simultaneously hinting that maybe, just maybe, despite the Brexit vote, if we all keep calm and think carefully, a way forward could be found to keep the UK within the EU – even the US Secretary of State John Kerry is suggesting similar.

Back home, the Westminster scene is wallowing in a state of complete chaos. Boris has been scuppered and Teresa May is clearly now the Tory front-runner to be leader and Prime Minister. Happily we can forget the rest of the candidates – Michael Gove has just done a Brutus on Boris (never a clever move for a would-be PM), but worse, sadly for him, ‘has a good face for radio’ – by which I mean, in political terms, just looks too much of a geek to win an election and therefore cannot possibly become leader; Liam Fox is a second-rate right wing loony; and that other chap with the beard (Stephen Crabb) is too ordinary, young and obscure.

Over in the Labour camp, if this were possible, things are even worse. Having saddled themselves with a leadership-election system that enables extreme factions to ‘capture’ the Party (“Hello Jeremy!”) they’re going to have the devil of a problem ever changing it, still less winning a General Election. One day they’ll figure how to do at least one of those, but it’s a long way off and there’ll be plenty of political blood-letting before it happens.

Quite what the voting public makes of all this, God alone knows (and does he exist anyway?).

If you take the view – as I do – that democracy (sometimes characterised as ‘the will of the people’) is an illusion foisted upon, and gratefully accepted by, the world because it allows us to believe that somehow we’re involved when in actual fact we’re not. Karl Marx is credited with describing religion as the opiate of the masses, but in fact the democratic illusion is the ultimate example.

Just as long as the rest of us can get on with own personal corners of existence – organising our weddings, watching the knockout rounds of Euro 2016, getting our annual fill of ‘plucky Brit’ tennis players losing in the early rounds of Wimbledon and otherwise spending two hours per day complaining about the British summer weather – it’s a comfort for everyone living at 23 Railways Cuttings, East Cheam [Tony Hancock’s fictional suburban address, for the benefit of our anorak-inclined readers] to be able to kid ourselves that we’re part of the political process even if de facto we aren’t.

Certainty, of course, is what makes the world go around. It’s how we plan our lives. In the UK we drive on the left-hand side of the road, our currency is the pound sterling and – about once every four months – I get a speeding ticket that I don’t really deserve. Somehow it would be disappointing, if only in terms of the disturbance of routine, if these things every stopped being the case.

sommeBy the same token, I cannot help feeling that now and again ‘throwing everything up in the air and enduring a bit of chaos’ is actually a positive thing.

It’s certainly adds a bit of an adventure to our existence and reminds us of our insignificant place in the universe.

A bit like the Battle of the Somme, really, which kicked off exactly one hundred years ago this morning.



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About Simon Campion-Brown

A former lecturer in politics at Keele University, Simon now lives in Oxfordshire. Married with two children, in 2007 he decided to monitor the Westminster village via newspaper and television and has never looked back. More Posts