Saturday, 31 December 2016

Brexit, fussbucketry and being a Tory - top posts of 2016

In a fit of indulgence I thought I'd revisit my most popular postings of 2016. You never know with this sort of review, something might pop up, some sort of revelation. Probably not.

The top two posts, unsurprisingly, are about the EU referendum - firstly back in February when I invoked Don Quixote and talked of my scepticism:
I am a genuine sceptic in all this. I don't really believe in ever more draconian immigration controls, I don't want a sort of pseudo-fascist isolationist approach to the economy for that is lunacy. And I absolutely believe that the EU has played a role (albeit a smaller one than its vanity permits) in securing peace and harmony on what was a divided continent. So I ought to be a supporter of the EU except for a couple of real problems.
As the actual referendum campaign hotted up, I returned again to the problems as I saw them (referencing Jonathan Swift's flying island of Laputa this time):
In one respect it is quite sweet that so many very clever people cluster around the EU's court. Like every other bunch of courtiers throughout history, these people mostly believe (when they've finished chasing consultancy contracts, speaking engagements, advisor positions and policy jobs) that there really is no alternative to the world in which they live, they develop a sort of strabimus with one eye gazing into their narrow little world while the other swivels frantically searching for ever grander ideas of union, collaboration and co-operation. We're told these people are the bright ones, the 'experts', yet they are - quite literally - ignorant of the lives, loves, aspirations and hopes of the people who are supposed to be their bosses.
For me these statements are at the heart of why Remain lost. In the first, I was there to gained as a supporter - all they had to do was explain how the EU could reform in the direction of openness and freedom. The second explains why: the advocates of the EU were too wrapped up in now, in their schemes and plots, to engage with a million plus sceptics who were there to be persuaded. In the end I voted to leave and, given what's been revealed since, I think I made the right choice:
It is rather about whether or not you and I can, if we're angry enough, get up from our armchairs, turn the telly off, go down to the village hall, and vote the bastards out. It's not our country we want back, it's our rights. Or rather the most important right of all - the right to overthrow the government and stick in a new one.
You're welcome to disagree with me even to the extent of shouting abuse but if you try to use bureaucracy and legalistic legerdemain to thwart the decision of 23 June then you are no different or better than those alt-right authoritarians you despise so much:
Although with their talk of populism and nativism these Remainers want to portray the leave voter as the nascent authoritarian, the truth is quite the opposite. Remainers now consider that the ordinary voter cannot be entrusted with the future of the nation, this future should be in the hands of people who know, the experts. The idea of representative democracy is acceptable but only if it produces a result that allows the Remainer great and good to continue dictating the direction of policy.
Which brings us to the direction of policy where it's no surprise that most of those irritated - even angered - by the fussbucketry of public health were leave voters.
Public health is an ideology of control not a healthcare programme. It dulls the senses of health management by suggesting their inevitable cost pressures will be relieved by patients embracing an approved lifestyle that eliminates the risks contributing to the growing number of people living with chronic conditions like type-2 diabetes. Above all public health represents a crusade to promote a moral and righteous life to the populace - don't smoke, don't drink, don't stay up late, do the right amount of exercise, eat the right diet, avoid salt and sugar. This lifestyle is promoted through the use of public funds to appeal, on one hand, to our fear of mortality through talk of cancer, heart attacks and dementia, while simultaneously suggesting that beautiful, successful people adhere to this stultifying, dull set of consumption behaviours. Across all this runs the argument that, if we want our children to be one or those beautiful, successful people - or even to live - then they mustn't be exposed to these sins of diet or pleasure.
It's not just this nannying of grown-ups of course but an attitude to childhood that leads of seemingly every possible risk being banned or hidden from children:
Instead we see people who behave like the Childcatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - corralling children into a dull, purposeful programme of approved activities monitored by the agents of those authorities. Much of the effort here is dedicated to creating obedient little unchallenging conformists. And what we create are a bunch of snowflakes who demand safe spaces, who cry at criticism and who would rather ban free speech than accept that some people are unpleasant or rude. Disagreement is dealt with not through a handshake and "we'll talk about this again" but by one or other party running off to cuddle a teddy bear while listening to calming whale sounds.
I discovered the origins of the word snob the other day - interesting how it shifted from the subject of disdain to the person doing the disdaining. And public health folk have snobbery in spades - the plebs aren't able to decide for themselves:
If public health campaigners really cared about people's wellbeing they'd ask why it is that poor people die younger. They'd wonder why the single mum overeats, the unemployed twenty-something smokes and the old soldier drinks rather than simply trying to nudge them out of these habits with the policy equivalent of a baseball bat. But these public health fanatics don't ask these questions, they just ban stuff, control stuff, lecture, nanny and fuss. Public health campaigning isn't about health, it's about the snobbish promotion of a lifestyle set by passionless middle-class puritans.
Thanks for reading - especially the dedicated few who keep posting comments even though I'm crap at responding - and remember that, for the Kippers and libertarians trying to claim me as one of theirs, I'm just a regular sort of Tory.



asquith said...

Rob-M said...

I'm afraid the reason a lot of people voted to leave was this (and previous) governments continuing subscription to an economic agenda that saw the few benefit while the majority saw their standard of living decrease.There may have been a supposed vote against immigration, but nobody cares about immigration when they have decently paid jobs and public services that function. The sooner people wake up to the Tories ruling for the privileged few, the better.

I wish you nothing but ill in 2017 as Tories like you have caused nothing but suffering for lots of people who have the audacity to be poor, disabled or ill. In fact, I wish something befalls you that means you are placed at the mercy of the state and you suffer the ignominy that so many other people have been exposed to because of Tory policies!