There by the grace of God.
You may have noticed there weren't any posts last week. Well, there was one, but it seems to have mysteriously disappeared. A couple of reasons for that. The main one being in the 11 years I've been writing this blog I have never felt such abject, crushing despair at the state of politics, not only in this country but around the world. It's not just me either: one older lady I talked to said she had been depressed ever since the vote to leave, disgusted at how all her friends had voted out "because of the foreigners".
In the past there has always seemed a reason to hope, a reason to protest, a reason to keep fighting. I just don't see it now. We have a Conservative party that slight majority or not, has united itself in a way few of us thought it was capable of following the Leave vote. That is is in power obviously helps, but all the same. Any seething grievances, whether of the way Andrea Leadsom gave up without a fight, the way the Notting Hill set was purged by Theresa May, or of the lack of plan from both sides seem to have been abandoned in favour of just getting on with it. And really, why wouldn't they? Many in the Tories have lived for this opportunity, to prove that Britain doesn't need the bureaucrats, interferers and lollygaggers of Brussels; all we've ever needed is a bit of old-fashioned grit and determination, combined with some stiff upper lip in the face of any problems to begin with, and we will walk the world stage with our heads held high again. Besides, if it all comes crashing down, who are the media going to blame? They were the ones who wanted this more than anyone.
By contrast, what has the left and Labour being doing for the past month? Tearing itself apart in a way that seems destined to result in a permanent schism, whether it ends with Jeremy Corbyn being re-elected or Owen Smith against the odds triumphing in another interminable summer-long campaign. After the 10 months of Corbyn's leadership, with its intermittent periods of shadow ministers criticising their own leader in the Commons and then acting like the wounded party when sacked, the abuse and contempt for trying to do politics differently, not always remotely successfully but at least trying, it didn't seem possible Labour could go any lower. When critics of the leader have variously accused him of sympathising with terrorists, indulging antisemites and not being interested in winning elections, where else can they go?
Why, by complaining that he threatened to ring one MP's old man, that his aides have been letting themselves into the offices of former shadow cabinet ministers, intimidating staff, and generally acting as though Corbyn is somehow orchestrating a massive campaign of hate against them. This is the same Jeremy Corbyn they accuse of being incapable of leading a horse to water, let alone making it drink. In the words of Angela Eagle, he has allowed a "permissive" environment to develop, and has been "stirring". A group of female Labour MPs demanded "swift and tangible action" against those responsible for the abuse, and called for the embracing of "shared values" to ensure that future dialogue is "civil and constructive". You might recall the second signatory to the letter, Jess Phillips, earlier in the year describing Corbyn as being guilty of "low-level non-violent misogyny" for not having any women in the four top shadow cabinet positions, although overall the shadow cabinet had equal numbers of men and women. Owen Smith has picked up the theme, ignoring the official review into alleged antisemitism in Labour and pronouncing that all the accusations are true and shameful. It doesn't strike me as the best idea to accept your party has people in it that hate women, Jews, etc, as that type of thing will probably come back to bite you.
But then it seems no one is thinking that far ahead. I wrote back in January after the reshuffle that Corbyn's critics didn't seem to have a plan other than mutually assured destruction. Their actions and the Corbyn camp's reaction since the launching of the coup have proved that. If Corbyn wins, the idea that those same MPs will reconcile themselves to the wishes of the membership and once again serve under the leader is risible. As John McDonnell so accurately described them, they have been fucking useless, but not for so much as a moment will they sit back and consider whether it's been their actions that have brought Labour to this point. When they have so steadfastly refused to look back and see the real reason Corbyn won, which was not because 300,000 people have suddenly become Trots and joined Labour to take the party back to the 80s, but because of their reaction to the election loss and then the welfare vote, why would they take a long look at themselves now?
And yet, there is no denying the air of toxicity pervading the entire debate. I've never been afraid to broach the most difficult of subjects on this blog: my own depression, suicide, paedophilia, pornography, jihadist propaganda, etc. Nothing has been taboo. I've upset people before, but I can almost guarantee that I'm more likely to piss some off more than I ever have previously just by saying that err, much as I think Corbyn is in the right, I think it would be the best for all concerned if he went. It's Corbyn or bust for them. It's fair to say that the immediacy and drama of social media, rather than bringing people closer together has in fact divided us even further. Twitter has been central to this entire clusterfuck and entirely for ill, whether through facilitating abuse or making those abused even more determined to remain cocooned in their own bubble. Twitter has become them.
Regardless of who eventually wins, if the party splits or doesn't, Labour looks finished. It's that the alternatives are even worse. Everything seems to be coming together to ensconce the Conservatives in power again for a generation, only this time with even less opposition than before. I mean, fuck me, More United? When Jo Cox said it, it meant something. When appropriated by Caroline Criado-Perez, the singer out of the Kooks, Maajid Nawaz and tech entrepreneurs chomping at the bit to profit from using "new technologies to drive a revolution in improving public services", it's fairly obvious what this is about. It's not as though tech has most certainly been behind the further atomisation of society, has it?
This whole year has been revenge of the forgotten, ignored and angry. Of course in actuality they haven't been forgotten or ignored, they've mostly been pampered their whole lives, but they believe they have been. All it took to get them energised was some good old fashioned xenophobia, and in the case of the Donald, explicit racism. Make no mistake, Trump will win in November. He might not had the Democrats gone with someone other than Hillary, but she will seal it. Had the Democrats crowned a balloon with a face drawn in marker pen on it, it would probably have the beating of Trump. Hillary is beyond toxic: when millennial women are making clear they won't vote for the first woman president because her name will be Hillary, the game is up.
Shouldn't this be having the opposite effect? Shouldn't I galvanised by the prospect of a Trump presidency, of seeing the Brexiters fail miserably? Not when it's so obvious the left can't win in any case. I just can't see the point of going on battling. In every war there comes a time when you have to sit down and examine if the point has been reached when it's better not to go on fighting. I think that point may well have been reached. Combined with other developments, to call back that post from last week disappearing, there simply doesn't seem any point continuing with a blog purely built around despair rather than the slightest hope. I still though have some thinking to do.
With grace we shall suffer / With grace we shall recover