The response of the fascist right was predictable and vicious. For 11 Tory MPs it resulted in vilification and worse - death threats are now normalised from those who follow the advice of the extreme press. The language of “rebel”, “mutineer” and “saboteur” - all epithets with which anyone sane would be prepared to embrace given those who bestow them - creates an atmosphere where the monobrowed idiots are impelled to behave as though those who disagree with them have to be despatched. It is not a matter of Henry VIII powers, but the murderous outlawdom of Henry II with Thomas Becket.
One of the key drivers of this incitement, for which Paul Dacre and his vile Daily Mail would face prosecution in a state where the rule of law prevailed, is a recognition of how much their extremism is not founded on anything more than shallow rabble-rousing and manipulation. Given the parallels with Hitler’s approach to the usurpation of power, the coup’s prime movers should consider the impact of a regime’s collapse in the face of reality. The Little England Brexiter narrative is based around the false prospectus of British supremacy - they would do better examining both how the Nazi Party collapsed in 1944 and 1945 and the subsequent repudiation even by those who actively or passively complied with the regime. Debrexitisation may be less painful, but the way in which the right’s propaganda machine has normalised fascism and intimidation renders this a possibility rather than a probability.
In pushing the spurious “will of the people” trope as a justification for closing down debate and the freedom of legislators to take action, the right is playing with fire. While a Commons vote, taking back control from an inept and incompetent Cabinet, securing one of the ostensible aims of the leave campaign, they are reduced to casuistry. Every headbanging inadequate is claiming that this weakens Theresa May’s hands in negotiations - negotiations that are unnecessary, and which with the balance of powers she is bound to lose, humiliatingly. This is a desperate throw by a group that recognises that its fundamentals are being rumbled on a regular basis, and which is fearful that it will be landed with the blame when the entire edifice crumbles.
To use the language of authoritarianism and totalitarian control is always an unwise and evil act. It will come back to haunt its perpetrators. For every tinpot Haw-Haw, the Fabricants, Rees-Moggs and Melanie Phillipses of this world, time will be unforgiving and they may find the tumbrels arriving sooner than they think. To denigrate and threaten those who dissent, oppose and challenge is both the act of traitors and a recognition of their lack of legitimacy. Every time the morons on the right issue threats they are weakened.
Underneath the Parliamentary unravelling of the Tories, and May’s authority and control, there are a number of seismic shifts taking place. For people who merely track opinion polls as a barometer of public sentiment, it is not obvious that this is occurring, as there remains an apathy towards Labour’s apparent inability to determine whether it is an enabler of evil or an active opposition. Yet there are indications that a more fundamental rejection of the acquiescence in the Conservative narrative is under way. This makes the task of opposition both urgent and harder.
For example, there is now evidence that the impact of austerity and Brexit is impacting on household confidence. This is the Bank of England’s analysis, so, unless you are as morally bankrupt as John Redwood and require the manufacture of fake news, this does not bode well for the progress of the national suicide- a combination of inflation, household debt, falling real wages and job insecurity were not the sunlit uplands that the liars and charlatans spun as the inevitable conseqeunce of Brexit. As the effects of suicidal policy emerge this will crystallise - and effective opposition will channel the outrage towards its true originators.
Added to this a continuing and steady shift in public opinion over the relationship with Europe, there is now more ammunition for those who seek to impose Parliamentary accountability over the idiots and charlatans squatting on the government benches. The responsibility of legislators is not to act as cheerleaders and delegates for the unelected - if it looks as though the consequences of idiocy will play to badly then the early benefits of rebellion may develop further into a genuine cross-party and persistent denial of the architects of the right.
Perhaps the strongest, and least-remarked evidence of shape-shifting was the commencement of the Scottish Budget process. I declare an interest in that I shall be one of those impacted by paying higher tax, and, on balance, I am pleased. An honest recognition that to maintain and even improve services requires paying for, and that this is better done straightforwardly and upfront, rather than the tinkering of stealth taxation and mortgaging the future that both Labour and Tories have been guilty of over the last thirty years, may be a much more fundamental shift than any other. Despite the carping of the right, a stoical approach and a recognition that the private and the public realms interact and require contemplation together does not appear to have created a whirlwind of dissent in Scotland.
Given that the Scottish Conservatives are being portrayed as a model for renewal of that vile rabble of selfish and ignorant careerists, this represents an object lesson in the impotence of their efforts. All their rhetoric was directed at tax rises, without any attempt to justify what should be cut. By the by, Scottish Tories are experts at pork barrel politics, which the odious and incompetent David Mundell exploits at all times in Holyrood while enabling austerity at Westminster - the forked tongue of colonial satraps. Not one Scottish Tory, despite previous protestations of pro-European views, found it possible to join their courageous colleagues in the national interest.
All early days, and the prognosis is uncertain. There have been two defining moments in politics this year - May losing the election and the first parliamentary defeat. However, the gathering storm of the lies and false prospectus of both austerity and the Brexit coup will form a backdrop to the febrile and discontented Christmas and New Year season, where editors and journalists seek sensation in the absence of evidence. A government that legitimises and fails to condemn domestic terrorism in the name of keeping itself in power is unworthy, and when this is recognised the only growth industry will be defence lawyers and those widening the exit doors from a failed dictatorship.