The primary material
interest bankrolling UKIP and the Leave campaign turns out – as far as it is
possible to currently ascertain – to have been the section of the UK hedge fund
and financial product industry which can expect to profit from the conversion
of the UK into a Greater Jersey, an offshore aircraft carrier for the global
derivatives and tax avoidance sector. Andrea Leadsom's ex-employer and
brother-in-law is indeed a Jersey-based hedge fund owner, and Mrs Leadsom, at
least initially, resisted disclosure of her own tax affairs. Seldom can so
many who imagine they have nothing to lose, have been mobilised in the name of
mass self-immiseration by so few who have something to gain.
As Cohn-Bendit says, and I think his point merits attention, to address
this kind of situation there needs to be a major new effort of public and
political information, dare one even say of education, dedicated to the
restitution of something remotely resembling a truth-based democratic polity.
Academics and public intellectuals should play their part in this effort: Michel Dougan of Liverpool University has been one exemplary public
voice to date. They can help roll back the toxic wave of slur and smear which
has polluted UK public space in recent weeks and months. What they must
absolutely not be doing is to pander to the conformism of the moment by
embracing the language of demagogic anti-politics.
The immediate task of
the next UK government must be to identify and evaluate, in the added light of
recent developments, through parliamentary deliberation and public discussion,
the least catastrophic and actually possible set of economic and constitutional
arrangements consistent with the expressed preferences of the electorate and
the public interest. This process will need to be somewhat more rigorous than
the culture of licensed and unchallenged mendacity which characterised the
victorious Leave campaign in the referendum debate. Beneath its superficial
insouciance and triumphalism, the Leave camp, which knows well by what means it
has prevailed to date, is well aware that its record and methods are highly
vulnerable to any serious scrutiny.
Negotiating with the EU
may well prove much less challenging than negotiating with ourselves,
re-establishing public concern for truth in place of post-truth, and resisting the affective turn towards
neo-imperial nationalist self-delusion.
This year’s COP26 meeting in Glasgow has been hailed as the most significant climate event since the 2015 Paris Agreement. But what action must world leaders take to put the planet on a sustainable path? And what does this mean for the future of global capitalism?
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