The past is a foreign country

Brexit apparently means Year Zero, for our leaders, at least.

Monday, 20th March 2017, 6:22 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:51 am
LEP Columnist Barry Freeman

All prior commitments, democratic norms, you name it, are gone, burned away by the purifying fire of nostalgia and patriotic dream-weaving.

For confirmation look no further than the Tories’ recent ham-fisted manifesto shredding budget, notably the ill-fated raid on the self-employed.

Their attempted ramping up of National Insurance contributions from some of the most poorly paid people in Britain was in direct contradiction to promises made repeatedly – and in print – less than two years ago at the General Election.

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Shot down in flames thank goodness, but reversed only – and critically – once the usual retinue of right wing rags had respectfully pointed out this hammer would nail countless struggling citizens who, for reasons unknown, believe the Conservative Party has their best interests at heart. Naked self-interest, in other words. Yet a more flagrant cold-shouldering of the past came last week, when the Prime Minister and countless goons across the party and the media joined forces to smear SNP plans to seek a second referendum on Scottish independence. May even went so far as to hint the SNP as a “minority government” had no mandate for such a vote.

That Nicola Sturgeon’s party stood on a specific pledge to secure this second referendum in the event of a Brexit result at odds with the will of Scotland, at both the 2015 General Election and the 2016 Scottish Parliament Election, is irrelevant.

Similarly piffle, presumably, is the bald fact that among the most powerful cards ‘Better Together’ played at the 2014 vote was that Scotland’s status as an EU member depended wholly on maintaining the Union.

In their own words, “membership is only guaranteed with a No vote”.

Which of course, is why the SNP, recognising the surge of English Nationalism down South, later made said manifesto commitment. They feared something ugly in the pipeline, and were wise to do so. But tish and pish, eh? The Tory message is clear. Nothing done or said before June 23, 2017, means anything.

Brexit means forgetting.