Politics of the madhouse
At about this point, with the local elections behind us, the in or out debate is reaching new levels of surrealism as David Cameron and Boris “debate” whether Brexit will lead to nuclear war and whether Boris is a deep sleeper planted by the FSB (not the Federation of Small Businesses, you understand).
The wild overstatement of their cases by both sides (or more often wild rubbishing of claims that nobody ever made) does not lend gravity to the situation. In the next three weeks or so we will undoubtedly see more and more of this. Jeremy Corbyn’s qualified and cautious vote to stay (what might be called the sensible option) disappears beneath the piles of froth generated in the Tory party (and Nigel Farage when he can shout loud enough for anyone to hear) on both sides. And Donald Trump has entered the competition for who is most likely to scare votes away from his side, possibly even trumping (ha ha) George Galloway.
The government’s recent record is a total shambles, reversing in all directions, whether on academies or the admission of Syrian orphans or even fracking, where it is mildly difficult to see how everyone in favour of it is actually against anybody doing it round them. Let alone a Budget that made no sense in any terms, even before chunks of it disappeared. Normally a government getting itself in such a twist would be haemorrhaging votes. But normal politics seem to be on hold for the duration, though whether the Tory party can all be best friends again afterwards is moot. I suspect the answer is that if we do vote for out then shambles will continue though the negotiation period whether that is two years or 15.
Taxation has for the moment receded from the newspapers’ consciousness again, to the extent that it ever touched it when almost the whole of the tabloid press is owned by enthusiasts for tax avoidance of the most international sort. President Obama is against it, but that would not worry Prime Minister Boris if he gets there. Now we have 300 economists pointing out that tax havens “have no economic benefit” (did anyone think that they did, other than for this whose money is stashed there?) and there is a summit in London which is now likely just to highlight the fact that the UK is terribly reluctant to do anything about those Crown dependencies which might well cost us more if the activity of their dodgy financial industries were to be curtailed.
Nobody has (yet) said that if we exit then we can take no notice of all those Americans and Europeans banging on about avoidance and carry on shovelling money into our very own tax havens, probably because most of them can’t decide whether it would be a good thing or not.
So the only thing to do is sit tight and believe nobody, even if they appear to be on your side. We have entered the madhouse and must hope that in the end we can still remember who we are.