Friday, 12 January 2018

Corbyn: "I'm king of the world!" (spoiler: iceberg ahead)

Imagine that it's close to midnight on 14 April 1912 and we're on the bridge of the RMS Titanic. Watchers in the crows' nest have just spotted an iceberg ahead. What should we do?

There are two schools of thought.* Mister Barlow thinks that our top priority is to do everything possible to change course and speed, during our short remaining window of time, so that the ship can either avoid the berg, or try to hit slowly, at a speed and angle which gives us some chance of not sinking.

Mister Jones objects that while everybody's obsessing about the iceberg, conditions aboard the Titanic are unacceptable; the working poor are crammed into cramped, airless quarters in steerage, while the rich and powerful lounge about in their sumptuous staterooms, being waited on hand and foot, when not stuffing their faces with turtle soup and lobster at the Captain's table. Mister Jones is a fan of First Mate Corbyn's vision of something better, a Titanic that works for everyone.

Now I don't think Mister Jones is wrong. The massive levels of unfairness and inequality are wrong, bad and need fixing. But - forgive me if I'm being be a single-issue iceberg bore here - the iceberg is dead ahead, the time left for avoiding action is short, and if we hit and sink, who do you think will be first in the queue for the limited number of lifeboats (hint; it's probably not going to be the poor devils in steerage)? For the moment, I think that the pressing problem of iceberg avoidance deserves to occupy the top left quadrant of the Eisenhower decision grid.

That was my take on the "What - if anything - should progressives do about Brexit" debate, as argued by Owen Jones and Nick Barlow.

Credit to Boris Johnson for first suggesting the Titanic analogy.

*Of course, there are other courses of action, although the one being urged on Captain May by her senior officers ("Shut your eyes, full steam ahead and just keep on saying that we're definitely going to win the Blue Riband"), doesn't really involve enough neurological activity to qualify as a school of thought.