It’s certainly been a bit of a week in Parliament, Downing Street and the Westminster obsessed media bubble hasn’t it? A recalled Parliament descended to worse than normal levels of bluster, hyperbole, veiled threats and insults. The unelected and unaccountable Dominic Cummings seems to be revelling in the influence he has over PM Johnson and most of the Cabinet. As for the media, oh boy, are they having a field day with the comic-tragic farce that’s playing out before our eyes in and around Westminster. To cap it all, we had Brendan O’Neil from Spiked on TV openly talking about frustrated Leavers resorting to street riots if the UK doesn’t depart the EU on October 31st as has been promised.
Obviously, we’ve been following all of this with great interest. After all, why wouldn’t we be interested in two factions of the so called establishment tearing lumps out of each other? For anyone involved in the project of radical change, the situation we’re in potentially offers us the best opportunity there’s been for a long while to push things forward. But, if we’re to make progress, rather than focus on Westminster’s descent into the appearance of chaos, we need to look at what’s happening at the grassroots in the neighbourhoods we live and operate in.
Operating out in Essex, we know a fair few Leavers. Yes, they’re frustrated with the shambles that has been going on pretty much since the referendum result was announced way back in 2016. Will they, as Brendan O’Neil seems to think, take to the streets and riot? Sure, a pro-Brexit church and king mob, comprised of the usual suspects, has been making their presence felt in the streets around Westminster for a good number of months now. However, we’re pretty certain that most of the Leavers we know out in Essex would totally disown the antics of this mob. To O’Neil’s probable disappointment, we can’t see these Leavers taking to the streets to riot any time soon.
So what’s the overall mood? Basically, people are just switching off from a political process they feel more and more alienated from. It’s not just national politics but also local as residents feel that local councils do not listen to and act on their concerns. Regular readers of this blog will know that we’ve written extensively about the repeated attempts of a cabal of ruling group Tories and senior officers at Thurrock Council to push through a vanity project of extending the Civic Centre in Grays. Readers will also be aware of the number of times we’ve called out Basildon Council over their neglect of peripheral estates such as the ¾ in Vange and also of the Brooke House block right in the town centre.
People are pissed off with the way things are going at a national level and with what they see at a local level. There’s an overall sense that things are in decline – a local comrade described this feeling as ‘UK decay’. From a national government that can’t seem to function to local authorities who increasingly fail to respond to the needs of the communities they’re supposed to serve, people see the political system as letting them down at every level. A political vacuum is being created which as we’ve written a fair few times before, offers an opportunity but also poses dangers.
Will there be unrest as some are predicting? There’s only so much people can take before something cracks. The likes of Brendan O’Neil seem to think, hope even, that it will focus on the failure to deliver Brexit. That’s a very simplistic and naïve view to take. We’ve got a gut feeling that at some point, things will get lively, not just around Westminster but out in the sticks where we operate. The thing is that when things do kick off, it’s often for a host of reasons, some of which will contradict each other. A failed Brexit may be a factor with some of those kicking off but it won’t be the only one by any stretch of the imagination. Basically, it will be a ‘fog of war’ situation and the trick will be to work out what elements of it are of interest to us – nothing will be clear cut. As has always been the case throughout human history when things kick off!
What can we with our limited resources do in the face of events which are looking to be historic? With our propaganda, including the latest Heckler and Alternative Estuary papers, we’re starting to look beyond Brexit and try to work out what can be done at the grassroots to bring about real change. That does involve doing our level best to heal some of the divisions that have been intentionally stoked up by elements with no connection to or knowledge of the neighbourhoods we operate in. We know that this is far from an easy task but if we don’t start at the point where we live, then anything else is mere posturing…