The more the media expand
The less we seem to understand;
The more the information flow
The less we somehow seem to know;
The more the messages we send,
The less we seem to comprehend.
Communication rules, OK ?
Although there’s nothing much to say.
From ‘The Medium is the Message’
Bertie Ramsbottom, 1985
This far into the Brexit imbroglio, which has put most other issues in our lives into uneasy suspension, we have achieved the deplorable score of multiple questions and zero answers.
This is down to the cunning genius of our unelected prime minister who, having gone before the country for the avowed cause of honouring our sworn commitments to the European Union, promptly defected on losing the vote; slunk quietly into the Prime Ministerial chair while few were looking; and, with Houdini style finesse, promptly embraced the banner of the “let’s leaves” ganging up with a disreputable cabal of former enemies, many of whom had lied and fibbed their crooked paths to the polling booths.
These Macchiavellian machinations were, however, ‘small beer’, in the context of what was to come. Since she had neither believed in, understood, nor prepared plans for an EU defection, she moved to ‘floor’ naïve critics and followers alike by her meaningless tautology “Brexit means Brexit”; no doubt in the increasingly desperate hope that some more coherent answers might be stumbled on before nemesis struck.
Nor was this all. Although, like most of us, gobsmacked by the arrival of the sexist, racist, immigrant-hater and serial liar Trump in the White House, she was off like the wind at the head of the begging pack to play the Special Relationship card, sublimate the love-in with a public laying- on of hands; and embarrass a large proportion of her nation by an altogether premature invitation to a man few of us would feel able to welcome over our own domestic thresholds; at least until he had shown signs of behaviour worthy of a grown-up and his role.
With instant data, wall to wall,
Who needs the power of speech at all?
And touch to activate retrieval
Makes dialogue a wasting evil.
Our grateful progeny are freed
From ancient rites of write and read,
Delivered from that old absurd
Tyranny of book and word.
Thus, with the Commons and the Lords still in flat-footed ignorance of which Brexit is the Brexit of choice on the Cabinet’s prayer-list, we are left nervously eyeing these unimpressive arbiters of our fates and advised to hope patiently for the best. But the troops may soon be thinking otherwise ! For an even greater paradox is now emerging, potentially threatening both unsteady limbs of this cynical Anglo-US / Brexit-Trump axis of indifference and alienation.
With a level of hubristic arrogance unparalleled in transatlantic politics this century so far, the unlikely pair have contrived to dent deeply such democratic credentials as they might once have claimed; and, after only a few short weeks of the affair, begun triggering the disenchantments of former allies and co-conspirators.
The President is certainly in the van. He has moved with extraordinary speed to declare war on the mainstream media, nominate them ‘enemies of the people’ and eject those who offend him most (including the BBC) from official briefings. This is straight out of the Tin-Pot Dictators’ Manual.
His threatened immigrant and foreign worker racial cleansing measures are in full, chaotic sway; and, as we go to press, we are promised – to be paid for by matching cuts in foreign aid, environmental programmes and domestic social agencies – a near 10% ($ 54 bn) increase in US military budgets (to $ 603 bn); presumably to ‘make America great again ‘, and keep the rest of us in our places.
As evidence of the fears and doubts already stirring in the US around these megalomaniac ravings, even Republican ex-Presidents are expressing public doubts and reservations. Ex-President George Bush, speaking on NBC’S Today, disassociated himself vigorously from Trump’s policy on immigration – (‘I favour a welcoming immigration policy’; the media ‘I consider the media indispensable to democracy‘) and, even more combative, ‘we need answers over the Presidents links with the Kremlin’.
Prime Minister May already has more than equivalent cracks in her part of the Brexit-Trump misalliance. With the formal divorce petition about to be delivered in Brussels, but still no plan of action available for scrutiny by UK citizens, even the usually emollient ex-Tory Prime Minister, Sir John Major, has come out with an aggressive attack on the May strategy as being built on unreal, over-optimistic and naive promises to the people; and a disregard amounting to contempt for the near half (48%) who voted to Remain. As for the unreal promise of rescue by a Trump United States, this made no sense when “it was led by a president less predictable, less reliable, than any of his predecessors”. His comments on her entourage, and especially Brexit cheer leader Boris Johnson, are sabre-sharp; and with the reality of the known trade, social and economic downsides to come, the US/UK rescue strategy seems built on shifting sands.
The more the messages we screen,
The less each message seems to mean;
The more the plethora of data
The more we bury what’s the matter.
Maybe if we could bequeath a
Few less twitters on the ether,
Coming ages might regain
Their space to exercise the brain.
‘The Medium is the Message’
Bertie Ramsbottom, 1985