The vote by the house of commons last week to unilaterally reject British intervention in Syria was one of the first rays of light since the 2010 election. Even for someone who has almost no faith in the political system, it does at least provide some indication that the juggernaut can be stopped. For a nation reeling under repeated blows to public services, higher education, benefits, environmental policy and the arts, all directed by a sinister neoliberal agenda that seeks to shift the blame for the hideous human results of its disastrous policies on to the most marginalised members of society, it seems like there may, at last, have been a break in the dark clouds that have been enveloping us. Of course, it is only a small thing, and unlikely to make much of an impact on the lives of ordinary folk (except, perhaps, the families of soldiers who will not die quite as quickly in the inevitable escalation) but it does throw up some interesting possibilities. The optimum outcome, of course, is that this sets off a chain of political consequences that cause the Con-Dem coalition to collapse, forcing an early election in which the right wing vote is splintered between the Tories and an ascendant UKIP and the Lib Dems implode, leaving the country in the hands of Labour. Of course, given the current state of the Labour leadership, this would create its own problems, but it could hardly be worse than what we have now. The optimum state of the UK parliament (A Labour/Green/Plaid Cymru coalition with Diane Abbot, Caroline Lucas and Leanne Wood as equal co-prime ministers) remains a distant dream. Of course, it might all be a dream; I am not convinced that Cameron will not find some way to force new votes until he gets the result his withered, imperialist little heart craves,
The most interesting fallout, for those outside the UK, is the impact on the so-called 'Special Relationship' between the US and the UK, the possible demise of which has caused much hand-wringing amongst the right-wing press. I personally think that rumours of such a death are greatly exaggerated, but how glorious would it be if it were true? What is the special relationship, after all? Despite the adoration with which it is viewed by Westminster politicians (who like to imagine that it forms some part of Britain's laughably outdated status as a 'world power') the 'Special Relationship' is little more than a symbol of our enslavement to US foreign policy, forced to act as pawns of one of the world's dominant imperial powers. In the past, the special relationship meant that, due to the placement of US missile bases in this country, we would be incinerated first in any nuclear exchange. Nowadays, it means that we pass intelligence information and extradite British citizens into the arms of our personal big brother, whilst getting approximately nothing in return except for a slight warmth in the groin of politicians. Alan Mendozam, a member of the Henry Jackson Society (a think tank described by some media outlets as a 'human rights' organisation, but actually a neoconservative talking-point generator named after a US senator whose anti-communist 'defence hawk' views have inspired such luminaries as Paul Wolfowitz) sums up the angst neatly:
“If not reversed, this vote means the UK will join the rank of third-rate nations, condemned to be the prisoner of events with no power to shape them."
What a pity it will be for our nation to be forced to join the ranks of the 'third-rate', impoverished and brutalised nations such as Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands and Iceland, where the citizens weep and wail and gnash their teeth daily at their lack of 'power' over events. It is my view, and has been for some time, that just about the best thing that could happen for this country is for us to give up our pathetic pretensions at retaining the last vestiges of our imperial power. We should scrap the navy, sell our nukes to the Americans and use the money to fund things that the British people (not just the loudly shouting, red-faced, spittle-frothed portion of same) actually want and need. Free higher education, more and better hospitals, public libraries, green energy and all that wishy-washy lefty crap. More generally, as someone who is intensely opposed to the concept of the state, yet is realistic about the prospects of its imminent removal, anything that diminishes the power of Great Britain plc. is of interest to me. It's why I'm so hopeful for the Scottish independence referendum next year. May it give a resounding 'Yes!'. May the Welsh follow suit, and the Northern Irish, and the Cornish for that matter. Maybe then we can start to focus on the things that really matter.