Owen Jones today gives us a masterclass in why politics is such a bad way to run a country – run anything in fact. Because he’s arguing that we shouldn’t, in our current political predicament, think about decent or logical answers to that predicament at all. Instead, put aside the problem we’ve actually got – what should be the UK’s relationship with the European Union – and let’s instead argue all of this from whether his mates get to exercise political power over the rest of us or not.
Note that I have very clear ideas on the EU – it shouldn’t exist – and upon the UK’s relationship – somewhere between let’s leave and let’s tell ’em to bugger off as we do so – but this critique of Owen Jones isn’t because we differ in our views over that. It’s because he’s simply not considering that question at all. It’s all party politics to him, not actual decisions about the world.
Which is, of course, why politics is such a lousy way of running anything. It all does become about party political advantage, no one does end up considering the basic underlying question, the problems nor their solutions.
And yes, I have seen this up close and personal. When working for Ukip there was a general astonishment among the media and political types I interacted with that anyone would, or even should, be arguing from a point of principal. Why? What office is that going to gain you?
How Labour can resolve the Brexit crisis – and tear down the Tories too
Which is the important thing to Young Owen here?
Consider this scenario. The Brexit national crisis is resolved on terms that protect the economy and hard-won workers’ rights. The national conversation moves on to the NHS (remember that?), child poverty and housing. Another referendum, more poisonous and bitter than the last, and one that could easily be won by leave all over again, – polling currently shows more people would prefer to leave without a deal than to stay in the EU outside of London and Scotland – is avoided. A transformative government comes to power which rips up a four-decade-old market fundamentalist experiment that has been an endless generator of insecurity and social turmoil. The Conservative party – which, for entirely partisan ends, has brought chaos and humiliation to Britain – is torn asunder, ejected from office for a generation. This could be the prize if Labour agreed a deal with the Tories that forced Theresa May to reject her party’s red lines.
Isn’t that just great? The boy who argues for democratic control of the economy insists that we should avoid a vote on the direction of the economy, that in or out second referendum. Democracy, presumably, meaning only votes which produce the result Owen approves of. Further, note that it’s all about bashing the Tories. We get to grasp power if we do this about the EU – not, well, here’s the EU, what should our relationship be?
But that does not mean that a resolution of the Brexit crisis on terms that would break the Tories as a political force is not within grasp.
It’s entirely true that I dislike the Jezzite vision for Britain that Owen Jones holds and adheres to. But what I truly despise about politics is that it’s a jockeying for position, only and always, and never does actually even try to understand then solve the real problems we face. A pox on them all.