“All changed, changed utterly” – W. B. Yeats
Would that it were so. Harold Wilson famously said that a week was a long time in politics and, in one sense, it is difficult just a year since Britain’s surprise decision to leave the European Union to recall the certainties that prevailed before that momentous day: it was inevitable that Britain would stay in the EU, and grudgingly be sucked ever deeper and irreversibly into political union. The elites would prevail. Things would go on much as before.
In that sense, things really did “change utterly”, but in a year that saw the defenestration of David Cameron (remember him?), the spectacular rise and fall of Theresa May, the total eclipse of Ukip, the exposure of a truly ugly and anti-democratic Remainer super-class and the rise of the Corbyn Trots, beneath the sound and clamour, things are in some ways disappointingly the same.
Yes, we are finally on our way, and it is encouraging to see that a “hard Brexit” (a.k.a Brexit) really does seem likely. However, those who see Brexit as a technocratic exercise, in terms of trade deals and the like, are missing the much bigger picture. It should be a springboard from which culturally to rejuvenate this country in line with its great traditions and to break the shackles of political correctness. There is at present little evidence of such a change occurring, most sickeningly demonstrated by our pusillanimous response to increasing Islamic terror and the utter refusal of our elites to recognise that Islam is itself the problem.
Brexit is often, somewhat pretentiously, compared to the Protestant Reformation, the 500th anniversary of which falls this year. In that sense it is like having cast off the yoke of Rome, we find bad King Henry VIII still in charge, Catholic in all but name, terrorising his subjects. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
No doubt in one sense we are being rather impatient, but a word of warning is necessary. One of the most tragic lessons of history is that revolutions are started by liberals and ended by reactionaries, and the complete failure of conservatively-minded politicians to seize the day leaves others, ravenous and militant, ready to fill the void and exploit the public’s expectations of radical change.
Ultimately things really will be “changed, changed utterly”. It is just a question of what direction that change takes.
(Image: David Holt)