Clandon, one of the greatest houses of England, has just burnt to the ground, with the loss of a famous marble hall and most of its collection of pictures, furniture, and porcelain. The cause of the fire is not yet properly established but seems to have been just carelessness.
And what a symbol this is for the whole country. The general election about to take place looks like setting fire to the national fabric that past generations had the wisdom to put in place. It’s all a horrible accident. When he was prime minister, Tony Blair devolved Scotland; that is to say, he gave Scots some measures of self-government on the grounds that they wouldn’t then ask for more. Wrong, of course. Full independence is the goal of the Scottish National party. Last year, the Scots voted against this in a referendum. Founded in 1934, the SNP, a quasi-fascist throwback, has been mixing illusory promises and bully-boy intimidation and so has changed the referendum’s verdict.
According to polls, the Scots have abandoned their traditional vote for the Labour party so enthusiastically that the SNP looks like it will obtain all 59 Scottish seats. This changes the parliamentary arithmetic.
The polls also show the votes for Conservatives and Labour to be more or less equal within the usual margin of error, therefore neither with a majority. Forming a government will require a coalition. In theory the Labour party cannot be in coalition with the SNP that has taken away its votes. But Labour shares with the SNP an anti-capitalist, high-tax-high-spend, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, pro–European Union platform, and the SNP is already boasting that it will soon be governing the English. Mostly Labour-party renegades, the Green party consists of more quasi-fascists who might be willing to join this coalition in the event of winning seats.
The Conservative party has electioneered on the single proposition that its government offers a higher standard of living. Nothing about what the purpose of being British might be. Nothing about what relations ought to be with our real masters in Brussels. Nothing about the folly of climate change. In the absence of a last-minute surge to the Conservatives, Britain must go through an unprecedented moment of political and constitutional instability.
Some are saying that the shell of Clandon will have to be pulled down; others talk of rebuilding it as it was.