Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho
“… It was shameless, a degradation of our public life. But sealed in the bubble of her ideology, protected by a right-wing press locked in the same bubble, she was able to get away relatively unscathed… She may have overtly lied: but the greater integrity, she will have told herself, was to be truthful to her beliefs.
The same shamelessness abounds across the Eurosceptic right. Dominic Cummings, former director of Vote Leave, has refused to give evidence to the House of Commons media select committee over alleged illegal conduct during the Leave campaign. Why should he appear before a committee interested only in “grandstanding”, cocking a snook at parliament? The only legitimate reality is his reality: to be asked questions that might expose it to be a lie, even by elected parliamentarians, is inadmissible. Like McVey, his integrity lies in being loyal to the presumptions of his belief system.
In this universe there can be no shame. To feel shame, as the great philosopher of ethics, Bernard Williams argued, you have to feel that you exercised your will to choose a course of action in a way that transgressed shared moral norms. McVey and Cummings cannot feel shame because they worship a different God and moral code. They felt compelled to do what they did: to impose universal credit or leave the EU are higher callings, whatever the results.
Nor is this deformation the preserve of the right. Jack Straw has remained silent over Britain’s involvement in rendition and torture. The greater god was obeisance to US foreign policy and the “war” against jihadist terrorism. There was no choice. Hence no shame.”
This is what happens when religious thinking seeps into the political arena. The same flawed thinking models and methods are adopted and suddenly we have policies that are completely divorced from reality.
The article puts blame on the right-wing media, but let’s not kid ourselves, the other side needs to take responsibility as well. In the lead up to the referendum the press in its entirety allowed the debate to be framed in terms of Brexiters vs. Project Fear. This essentially equated plausible risks proposed by experts with promises that were knowingly false.
Nothing promised by the Brexit brigade was ever remotely viable. There was never the possibility of a trade deal that would compensate leaving what is the world’s largest free trade zone already. And not just the world’s largest free trade zone but one that has trade deals on excellent terms with much of the world (50 countries including the new EU/Japan deal) – because the EU is a wealthy market of 500 million consumers. It’s hardly likely the UK alone with its population of 65 million could negotiate anything better anywhere without that meaning a race to the bottom on health, safety and environmental standards.