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The embrace of medieval notions of treason and Jewish guilt provides a necessary cover. The Right did not even attempt to produce a workable Brexit policy that could have met the Leave campaign’s promise to wrench Britain out of the EU without inflicting economic damage, for the simple reason that the task was impossible. Better to shout “enemy of the people” at those who expose the mendacity of the enterprise than admit to deceiving the public. In terms of worked through policies, the far Left is as empty a space. Better to shout “Zionist” and “Blairite” than ask why serious left-wing economists offered their services to the Corbyn project and then walked away shaking their heads at the vacuity of it all.

As Donald Trump shows, the punishments meted out to dissident conservatives have helped keep his core vote together and extinguished any serious challenge to him from the American Right. Britain’s experience is little different. The silent majority of Conservative MPs, who would accept a Brexit compromise, keeps quiet for fear of alienating constituency associations. The equally silent majority of Labour MPs will go to any lengths to avoid giving an answer to the question: “Do you believe the shadow cabinet is morally and intellectually fit to lead Britain?”

Virtually everyone I know is engaged in arguments about whether it is worth staying with either party. There is always a good case for fighting your corner rather than flouncing out. But fighting only makes sense if you have a chance of victory. Battling on appeals to the Protestant belief in the supremacy of individual conscience, which is so deeply ingrained in British and American culture. In Catholicism, if the Pope and all his cardinals say that an idea is Catholic doctrine, then there is no point arguing that true Catholicism means its opposite. The Protestant, however, can be in a minority of one, and convince himself that he alone possesses the true faith. Politics is Catholic, not Protestant: a sport where the majority always wins. If a majority of English leftists can stomach Corbyn, then there is as little point in arguing that true leftists should oppose him as there is in dissident Republicans arguing that they, rather than Trump, represent the true voice of conservative America.

When established parties are no longer coalitions but are controlled by their extremes, new parties must be  established. It is a standard of British political commentary to say a new party will never get off the ground. Look at the electoral system, pundits say; look at the fate of the SDP in the 1980s. However, strong these points may be, they miss that the dominant factions on Right and Left do not want to accommodate wavering supporters. In the end, dissidents can waste only so much of their time protesting in the hope that their parties will change: that the Conservatives will return to being a traditional centre-Right party once the Brexit mania has passed, or Labour will flip back into being a morally decent movement when Corbyn retires. Like heretics down the ages, they must eventually give up trying to reform the unreformable and found new churches of their own.
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