Tory Brexiters’ martyrdom syndrome says ‘man who gets Brexit right dies for it’ – and cuts both ways
“Please Don’t Call Me Churchill. I am the modern man and death is too close to home.” Seemingly, it’s a lament from the great and the good to the red-haired premier who presided over Europe’s postwar rise to financial and political prominence and before that, died from cancer at the age of 76.
Now, a new martyr is in the offing. Donald Trump, who led the boycott of Mr Churchill’s services in London, is inviting UK citizens to cancel their summer holidays to Britain by becoming US citizens in what may be an overly conspiratorial announcement.
It makes you wonder, just a little, if Brexit has anything to do with this latest conservative-corporatist paranoia. The culprit is the appalling and unexplainable victory of Jeremy Corbyn, and the perplexity and dismay it has caused among the British government and rightwing press. You can get a clearer picture of how strong this feeling is by imagining yourself on your farm in County Durham and thinking: I don’t like that guy. Don’t like that.
But what exactly is it about this election, this defeat, this “rebunch”, that has created such a backlash against non-Brits? Corbyn, it seems, embodies all they hate about the state of Britain and the world in general: internationalism, egalitarianism, leftwing socialism. Take a step forward for one and backwards for everyone. Trump, by contrast, exemplifies all the paranoia they hate about the international left, encapsulated in Naomi Klein’s analysis of globalisation, whereby the “unearned wealth of the 1% is being transfersto finance and commodity markets”. A shrewd man I am not, but Trump strikes me as somewhat like Jar Jar Binks, the cowardly cannon-fodder from Star Wars, there to shore up the Alliance against the First Order’s brute force.
For this may, it seems, be the chief cause of the latest retreat from civility. If it’s not the economic collapse and the breakdown of the social contract that the right loathes, it’s foreignness. It’s everything from George Soros’s “evil multi-nationals” (read fascists) and “cultural Marxism” to the acceptance of “prosperity porn” – all of which have lead British conservatives to hear “No” to almost everything their liberal, welfare-respecting supporters take for granted.
They are genuinely worried about a situation where only “no” is given a response to questions about fundamental questions about values and values-based rules in a world that is worrying not merely about its own nastiness, but really the world at large. Global Britain, even outside the EU, is still something that many conservatives like not so much as a direction of travel but a condition, as if it is because they don’t like the idea of Britain in any form, whatever that may be.
So, perhaps, we’ve reached the point at which Brexit should be viewed not as the next big political challenge, but a further domino in the perpetual retreat from humanity:
“The world of capitalism will not stand up to protect itself from the mythical enemy of greed and oppression and fascism and communism and sometimes, unfortunately, good, humanism, unfortunately.”