Satisfied With Less

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When I was a kid, I loved Flash Gordon – they used to show the version with Sam Jones and Max von Sydow every so often.

Ming the Merciless had a cunning plan.

He had been conquering his way across the galaxy until he encountered Earth, at which point he became intrigued with this globeful of intransigents – we didn’t lie down and take it as meekly as so many others, and Ming (initially irritated by our mulishness) developed a cold-hearted admiration for us as a result.

He made Flash Gordon an offer – Ming would attack the planet but stop short of destroying it, and then Flash would “emerge” as their leader. Ming would cease his attack, apparently at Flash’s urging, and Flash would appear to have saved humanity.

He would then rule over the duped but grateful populace, as Ming’s secret proxy.

Neat trick.

It reminds me of Brexit.

Think back to 2016 – the British people had proved unexpectedly mulish. Brexit had happened, British PM David Cameron was about to wander off and follow Tony Blair into the behind-the-scenes powerbroking game, and the Brits needed a new PM.

As the ruling party was the Tories, it was a Tory race – some candidates eased their faces over the parapet and we got these jokers to choose from:

Boris Johnson – A Brexiteer on paper, but a clownish statist
Michael Gove – A Brexiteer in reality, but lacking charisma
Andrea Leadsom – A Brexiteer in reality, but an outsider
Theresa May – A Remainer and an insider

Given these candidates, which do you think the EU would prefer to have at the helm?

If the EU now planned to overturn or cripple Brexit, which candidate could be relied upon to stand aside?

To make every concession.

To “reluctantly” agree to make compromises.

To ensure Brexit in name only?

To collaborate as the EU engineered their preferred outcome, a Britain where the populace is satisfied with less?

The Emperor Ming: After the earthquakes and tidal waves, they won’t be the same human beings. They’ll be more docile. Tractable. Easier for you to rule, in the name of Ming.
Flash Gordon: You mean they’d be slaves.
The Emperor Ming: Let’s just say they’ll be satisfied with less.

Ming wanted Flash to rule as his proxy.

He refused.

Theresa didn’t.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. And yet Mrs May has started the process of exiting! This despite there being many opinions that she wouldn’t. Were your previous predictions about her behaviour accurate?

    Once the UK has actually left, then getting out of any concessions will not be a problem. Don’t want the ECJ? Fine, leave it. You can, once you are no longer a member. You can’t while you are a member. There’d be some bleating, but it could be done.

    Once out all the power is with the UK because the EU can’t retaliate. Unless the EU actually agrees to quite reasonable terms, which the UK might be unhappy to lose. But then if it agrees to reasonable terms, what is the problem? After all, the UK can merely delay its payments and the EU would become desperate quite quickly.

  2. One of the best pieces of advice in the Bible – and you don’t need to be a Christian to benefit from it – is be not afraid.

    Britain, to be sure, is in a horrible, shitty mess. Theresa May is as reassuring as finding half of a maggot in an apple you’ve just sank your teeth into. The alternative is even worse.

    Brexit is actually one of the least of our problems.

    But don’t be afraid. Why?

    Firstly, it does you and everyone else no good to despair. It’s worse than wasted effort – it’s negative effort, making it more and not less likely that your fears will manifest themselves in the world.

    Secondly, we didn’t get into this unholy mess in 2 years of even 40 years. I’d argue the roots of Western malaise (of which Britain’s predicament is a subset) go back centuries.

    So Brexit was always going to be necessary but insufficient, however you slice it. It’s also a great step in the right direction, however you measure it. Not that long ago it seemed almost inevitable we’d be sucked into the Euro. How times change.

    I have a couple of humble suggestions as better alternatives to angst:

    * Speak the truth as best you can
    * Have children, and pass the truth on to them
    * Be a joyful warrior. Your enemies are ridiculous – mock them unceasingly.
    * Enjoy life, it’s not a practice run
    * Wear sunscreen

  3. After all, the UK can merely delay its payments and the EU would become desperate quite quickly.

    Yarp times infinity.

    EVERYTHING is ALWAYS on the table in politics. Doesn’t matter what the last government promised to the last set of Eurocrats.

    A cute medieval example, following the second war for Scotland:

    formalized in the Treaty of Berwick, under the terms of which Scotland would pay England 100,000 merks over a ten-year period

    The treaty did impose a financial hardship on Scotland, but David II stopped paying after only 20,000 merks of the debt had been met, following which renegotiation led ultimately to a reduction in the debt and a 14-year truce.

    Britain is in a much stronger bargaining position re: the EU than Scotland was in relation to England in 1358.

  4. Interesting thoughts Alex, and the best part about them is that they were well-written.
    I don’t agree though. The EU only has one tool in its playbook which is hand-outs or the carrot of potential hand-outs. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it appears that candidates to join the EU liberalise their economies, sign Trade Agreements and reduce the role of the State, in order to meet the criteria.
    What’s more interesting to me is how did a Conservative party end up with a leader who is not conservative, who worries about gender pay gaps on bad evidence, reduces the size of the police, and thinks pensioners are so dumb with regards to budgeting and being aware it gets cold in winter that it is better to give them £300/year tax free in November than a taxable £6 a week on their State Pension ( or Pension Credit ).
    Well-written article though.