Reflections on recent events, plus the occasional fact
free rant unfiltered by rational argument.
The old guard of liberal-centralist politicians in Europe and the US are struggling. They can't understand the world that they helped create. Hillary Clinton continues to rake over the coals of a failed attempt at the US presidency. It's evident from her recent remarks that she still doesn't grasp why the US electorate didn’t vote her to the office. Yes, I know Hillary won the popular vote. That's not the point; she lost the election.
Meanwhile, her kindred spirit Tony Blair is continuing his campaign to derail Brexit. For Tony, the messiah complex overrides rationality. Why express surprise that Blair engages in an activity that seeks to undermine the democratic will of the people. After all, this is the man who maintained deceit throughout his entire time in office. Then with a concocted litany of lies brought on the untold slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people.
I disagree with Brexit. Nonetheless, the majority voted for it, and that’s the deal you get with democracy. Although, Brexit is not proving to be Brexit. That’s another matter
Left unaddressed, the rise of anti-immigrant, anti-internationalist sentiment, which has shifted the political balance within Europe, could have grave consequences. Clinton has finally woken up to that fact.
In a spasm of concern, the Guardian newspaper is running a series of articles that seek to understand why people have rejected the centralist-liberal agenda. They’re also somewhat lost because their grand dominant narrative is no longer so grand nor commanding. The voters have taken a different tack.
As usual, the media is seeking to label the phenomena. They have to give it a definition, and then you can deconstruct it. Populism is the word all the journalists and academics are struggling to tie down. As far back as 1969, academics at the London School of Economics saw populism as an evil spectre haunting the earth. The only problem is no one can agree what exactly is populism.
Even after loads of study, relentless discussion, the academics remain baffled. Of course, why bother with a definition. To me populism is pure; it's the people exercising their democratic right to take things in a different direction. The fact that people are angry with the elites and prepared to speak out is not something that should be a concern. We should embrace that.
Except that our friends in the Guardian appear anxious at the increasingly illiberal masses and the views that they are expressing. Well, who's to blame for that?
Let's review the broad sweep of political history over the past three decades. For starters, capitalism has stalled for a fair number of people. It’s not producing the benefits it promised as wages are stagnant and housing unaffordable.
Then we're led to war by falsehoods. The invasion of Iraq and the later geopolitical mayhem was all for nothing. As he seeks to shore up his collapsing legacy, Tony Blair talks about bringing down an evil dictator. Meanwhile, he earns a crust these days working for other dictators. Plus, there are many dictators out there that our Tony ignored or did business with. The public was misled, the soldiers paid the price, and the people of Iraq are still suffering.
Next, we have the financial crash of 2007/2008, which started in the US and spread its contagion across the planet. In this jolly little episode, the poor folks are paying for the lack of regulation. Meanwhile, the big guys with the money, the very people who caused the crash, walked away with their pockets lined. All this sanctioned by their political friends on both sides of the Atlantic. Let’s remember that Hillary took vast sums from the folks who caused the crash.
Tony Blair also needs to be accountable for his covert immigration policy that opened the UK door to anybody who wished to enter. This policy, coupled with the later manufactured refugee crisis, has had a disastrous impact across Europe. Media images of refugees struggling to cross the Mediterranean stoke public sympathy. When children are involved, it's heartbreaking. Yet, the truth of the situation is more complicated. Many, if not most of these so-called refugees are economic migrants.
It’s worth pondering the question why is this now unfolding across the whole of Europe. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision in 2015 to open the doors to refugees from Syria triggered a crisis within the EU. This move sparked the rise of the anti-immigrant groups. She justified her decision in principled terms against the backdrop of Germany’s history. But does that mean all Europe must atone for the errors of the past to subvert its culture by allowing the world to enter unchecked?
Meanwhile, our virtue signalling celebrities don't miss an opportunity to tell us what to do. Harry Potter’s mum J.K. Rowlings, Saint Bob of the Geldof, Gary Lineker, Emma Thomson plus assorted other super-rich folks encouraged the UK to take in more migrants. But wait a minute. Rowling’s has three huge estates and loads of land as her disposal. And the number of refugees she’s taken in is zero.
None of these self-important, well-heeled lovvies has stepped forward to accommodate anyone in their plush homes. Instead, the so-called refugees get dumped amongst the most depressed communities. There they over-burden already stretched public services to inflame sentiments. So Hampstead and Kensington are off the list, but not Rotherham and Luton.
Of course, mass immigration raises cultural and security concerns as well as fears of economic displacement. If you raise any heckles about this you are immediately smeared with the racist or even Nazi label. Hence the relentless media trope that populism is the rise of the far-right. The constant frivolous use of the racist label only serves to marginalise people and build the walls of polarisation.
The media have a defence. After all, they say, these populists are angry, frustrated and resentful types. But, they forget that the same is said of most left-wing groups and the various tribes of SJWs. I’ll grants you that populism is an anti-elitist set of views. And in that sense, it’s no different from the left.
So while poor Hillary and Tony fret, the people have spoken by rejecting their narrative. Fed up with deceit and outright lies, the ‘basket of deplorables' have said: “Sod you”. Polarisation and fragmentation are the new norms. People are seeking to protect what they have. They play identity politics and dig in. What Hillary and Tony can't get their heads around is that their policies planted the seeds that gave rise to the current state of affairs.
Unless the media and the liberal elites drop their relentless labelling and attacks against anyone who questions their agenda, nothing will change. Only one thing is certain; the finger pointing will continue.
Walter De Havilland was one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Royal Hong Kong Police and Hong Kong Police Force. He's long retired.