Infighting is symptomatic of our everyday lives. From the petty squabbles within families (luckily the Windsors reined it in at the recent royal wedding) to the breakout of war inside the working environment, there’s no escaping it. Friction, quite simply, is all around us. This, however, is no place and time to dwell on the thieving sod who stole your homemade chicken and quinoa salad from the communal office fridge - “I know it was you, Dimitri, I know it was you”. These days, you’d have to be a hermit on a remote Hebridean island to experience anything approaching total harmony. After all, you can’t disagree with yourself, can you? Hmm, wanna bet. Some of us have had our biggest ding-dings with our inner selves.
Of those organisations where internal argument is notoriously rife, few can rival the British political party. Their machinations are positively Machiavellian - witness the Jeremy Thorpe scandal, now back in the news thanks to A Very English Scandal. But none of them can compare to the Conservatives when it comes to disunity.
As long ago as anyone can really remember (possibly to before medieval times and certainly to before Margaret Thatcher, which to the average millennial voter might as well be before medieval times) the poor Tories have been tearing themselves apart. Pity the Downing Street cleaner still finding the odd body part behind the cabinet sofa. Oh, the rumours about that ex-minister’s tiny majority were true then.
Naturally, the dissension is always over the same hoary old chestnut. Europe. On present performance it’s evident that nothing has changed. The lessons from the past plainly not learnt.
Following each electoral victory, they swear that things will be different and for a short period they normally are. The sense of relief from the party faithful is almost palpable as hope against hope, fingers are crossed that finally the bickering will stop and the differences put aside. Alas, bubbling under the surface, like the cauldrons of hell, there’s always those who can’t keep their opinions and emotions in check for the sake of unity and they’re quickly at each other’s throats again with a ferocity that’d shame a bloodthirsty vampire.
Barely hanging onto power by a thread, it’s a miracle the May government hasn’t already fallen. There’s been plenty of opportunity. There’s hardly a week goes by without another obstacle for her to clamber over; the latest one being a threat by the DUP not to get involved in the abortion issue or else. It’s no wonder those key Commons votes on Brexit are less than forthcoming. Lose them and she’s a goner even before 29 March next year, when, let’s face it, she’s a goner anyway.
The impression from the Labour camp is that they can’t wait for another electoral contest. Their supporters, Union backers and Momentum in particular are chomping at the bit for us to revisit the ballot box. Egging them on from rival sides, there’s good old Vince Cable and, of course, Nicola Sturgeon, whose desperation to hasten the demise of a fellow female leader knows no bounds. So much for sisterhood.
But should any of them actually be so keen? Whoever finds themselves in charge in the Brexit aftermath is going to have a tumultuous time of it, trying to captain the ship of state as it topples over the Westminster waterfall into the rocky ravine below.
The notion of staying in the Customs Union and the Single Market has always been a bit of a red herring. Having chosen to leave the EU, we sadly can’t remain in either. It’s not an option. Those who say any different are deluding themselves and worse than that they’re misleading voters. Which is ok, I suppose. Politicians have always misled voters, so nothing new there. The problem is that while both terms are bandied around a lot, I’m not sure that many of us have a clue what the Single Market and Customs Union really are and indeed what are the precise implications of no longer being in them. I’m not even sure I know. Or increasingly especially care. Truth be told, most people would doubtless be happier if we managed to stay in the upcoming World Cup till the bitter end.
Therefore, when Jeremy Corbyn comes out and says that he wants to negotiate a new Customs Union with Europe, does be actually want to? Probably not.
Most likely he also has no burning desire to become the next Prime Minister. Who in their right mind would?
Perhaps at some point he thought it might be nice for a few days. If only to see what it was like. Now though there’s the genuine risk that the country could be lumbered with him as its new leader. And if that were to happen, it’s anyone’s guess what we might all end up wishing for.