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Where Angels Fear to Tread

13 Aug 2023 5 minute read
Lee Anderson. Photo House of Commons/UK Parliament

Ben Wildsmith

Came downstairs on Thursday morning to find the better angels of my nature halfway through a 3-litre bottle of Electric White cider and making uncalled-for observations about Lorraine Kelly. Angrily. I turn off the telly.

‘What do you think you are doing; how can I seek your moral affirmation after seeing you in this state? Do your trousers up.’

Lighting a Marlboro Red, an angel smiles and shakes his head.

‘The game’s up kiddo, there’s no more we can do.’ He looks around for seraphic solidarity and elicits a perfunctory rustle of wings from his brethren.

‘I’m starting a podcast,’ one chirps. ‘An edgy take on the week’s wrongdoing, co-presented with Moloch. We go hammer and tongs, but you could still imagine us having a pint together.’

‘But, why?’ I wail. ‘Why would you leave me without guidance in this pitiless void?’

‘They’ve started taking Lee Anderson seriously,’ my former guardians chant in unison.

‘God is dead, Lee has won.’


We’ve discussed Lee Anderson before, and people were quick to point out that people like him were best ignored. You’d think so, wouldn’t you? Anderson’s bigoted-uncle-at-Christmas schtick nauseates the vast majority of the electorate. It’s aimed at a specific group of people: voters who, after everything we have gone through, are still open to the suggestion that another five years of Tory rule might be a good thing.

So, when he told the Daily Express this week that migrants should ‘fuck off back to France’ if they didn’t fancy being housed on Legionnaire’s-riddled barges, it sounded like another deliberate provocation from which the grown-ups at Number 10 could winkingly distance themselves.

‘He might very well think that; we couldn’t possibly comment.’

Except this time, they did comment. Confirming that Anderson’s remark represented the government line, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk blanched only, he posed, at its ‘salty language’.

It is tempting to ascribe the shambles unfolding in UK politics to its ordered-from-Wish electoral system, or more widely to its so-good-we-don’t-have-to-write-it-down Constitution. Because, if we’re honest, we’ve never been that bothered about democracy around here, have we? Here we are, in 2023, allowing our affairs to be decided by the handful of bovine swing voters who are as easily biddable as your mom.

Voting is not only optional and unworthy of a day off work, it’s barely encouraged outside of competitive seats. Anybody participating in politics for reasons other than naked careerism is a ‘crank’, an ‘extremist’ and, eventually, an enemy of the people. Astride this constitutional Steely Dan perches the Monarchy, mocking our votes for their impotence: what the king giveth…

Democratic collapse

But no. The UK’s democratic collapse is only its characteristically farcical version of an international crisis. In America, with its written Constitution, separation of powers, and write-in ballots, the situation is worse still. If, as is likely, Joe Biden faces Donald Trump next November, the winner will send the loser to prison, probably for life. Political strategists on both sides will be playing a zero-sum game that offers no points for persuasion.

There’s nobody left to persuade. As Maga hats chant and latte-sippers whine, the agency lies with people who can’t be bothered. So, to overcome Biden’s predicted lead, Trump needs to say things that will wake them up and propel them to the voting booth. Every day behind in the polls will be a day closer to incarceration, with the rhetoric ratcheted up accordingly.

So, let’s hope he loses, eh? What’s that, Flipper? He’ll dispute the result from prison and his radicalised army of corndog-munching conspiracists will start a civil war?

Gosh, well perhaps on balance it might be best if Trump actually won. What did you say, Skippy? He’ll rule like a king and jail his political opponents?

We’re near the logical endpoint of a binary system that insults the plurality of its citizens by distorting their will to suit it. The only scenario beyond this is that losing candidates are executed.

We were, you will remember, taught that democracy was the source of western supremacy in global affairs. Now, as China looks on with its planned economy and social credit system, it is collapsing beneath our feet.

The recently deceased Milan Kundera pondered how long it took for a tragic event to become a suitable topic for jokes. The issue now is how long it takes the farcical to become tragic, and events suggest that interval is shortening.

It took a few years for Donald Trump to be taken seriously but his malign genius has filtered down to even the most hapless politicians the world over. It doesn’t matter what you say as long as enough people hear it.

Six months ago, Lee Anderson was a grotesque; figure of derision; a clown at the court. Now the court dances to his tune, and we know how that goes.

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Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
10 months ago

Both main right wing parties in the UK and US have lost the plot and have become out of touch with the majority of their country’s population with their weird, extreme, idological policies and beliefs. Sunak and his rabble need a long long spell in opposition while Trump needs a long long spell – behind bars.

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