A touch of Frost: the chill sets In
The nights are drawing in, aren’t they? Soon be Christmas and we can all look forward to toasting a single chestnut on the space heater we’ve huddled around to watch the Queen’s speech.
Perhaps she’ll wear fingerless gloves to show solidarity with her subjects; visible breath would be a bonus.
As Dad carves the pigeon, we’ll get out photographs of Christmases past and explain to the children that, in the olden days, we used to put on Christmas jumpers ironically, rather than to protect against hypothermic organ failure during Eastenders.
So, things being what they are, if I were called ‘Lord Frost’ I’d think about adopting a low profile. If there’s anyone people don’t need to hear from at the moment, it’s a Brexit-smeared escapee from Narnia.
But here he is, looking like one of Dalziel & Pascoe with his latest pronouncement.
A couple of weeks ago he blithely dismissed wind turbines as ‘medieval technology’ that are unnecessary as we’re not in a climate emergency.
Now, he’s brought his omniscience to bear on constitutional matters, telling Wales and Scotland that we have mistaken ourselves for nations and that all talk of independence needs to be legislated out of the conversation.
Frost’s prominence signals a cultural shift.
For years we have been subject to governance by the Daily Mail. Spiteful xenophobia cloaking the theft of assets by the wealthy has become as familiar as Ant & Dec in the UK: death, taxes, and Richard Littlejohn.
Frost, though, is the darling of the Daily Express. While the Mail offers its readers a fix of nastiness to shore up their prejudices and usher them into the voting booth, the Express deals in pure fantasy that is designed to stimulate the thin dreaming of English care home residents for whom each day is the same as, yet slightly worse than, the last.
For them, Frost is the patriotic knight who rode to the rescue of Brexit after the cowardly retreat of Theresa May. He is the true believer in whom people who believe themselves to have been betrayed by everyone from Tony Blair to Jimmy Savile can trust.
Only they can’t. In 2015, Frost was heading up the Scotch Whisky Association, in which role he argued, at the Scottish Parliament, that the UK should remain in the EU. He followed this up by writing an article warning of the catastrophe awaiting Britain if it left the Single Market.
After leading the botched negotiations with Brussels under Johnson, he now advocates abandoning the very agreement he signed. Like Liz Truss, his Brexit bona fides are a pose at best. But it is in terms of Brexit that Frosty the Showman casts his attack upon devolution.
His fear that devolution risks ‘mission creep’ towards independence is not based on any cultural attachment to Wales or Scotland. Rather, he sees our loss from the UK as a visible humiliation before the EU. Like every inadequate abuser, he doesn’t want his victim, but is terrified that someone else might.
It’s a truism that independence campaigns flourish if they can assert the cultural case above the economic argument. Tory party chaos seems to be turning this on its head. Frost makes the cultural case better than Adam Price or Nicola Sturgeon could dream of.
It used to be that claiming the UK suppressed the self-determination of its constituent nations was a fringe position. Now, with charlatans such as Frost courting Express readers for Liz Truss, the UK is out and proud about telling us to shut up and do as we are told.
Meanwhile, the economic argument around independence has shifted from lofty questions about the viability of a new currency to whether or not the Westminster government is willing to allow people to freeze to death in their own homes.
Brexit allowed all our arguments to be carried out on an abstract plane. Widening inequality and crumbling public services have been kept from people’s thoughts by endless parlour games involving the notion of ‘sovereignty’ and, when that wore thin, ‘woke culture’.
In the coming months, this charade will come to an abrupt halt. Politicians who have made careers from stoking xenophobia and fabricating threats from anyone trying to stem the civic decline of the UK are going to run into a wall of desperate need amongst the people they have misled.
So, when fake-Brexiteer Lord Frost is Foreign Secretary under fellow fake-Brexiteer, Liz Truss, they are quickly going to run out of external threats to blame for the financial ruin that we are facing.
It seems to me that casting Wales and Scotland as the enemy within is the penultimate bullet in their gun before turning it on themselves.
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