Back in the day, they used to talk about how the Militant Tendency had infiltrated the Labour Party, and were going to destroy civilisation or something if Labour won an election. Everything being the opposite of what it is, civilisation is being destroyed, not by the political left, but by the right. As someone I follow on Twitter said the other day, I understand why people might have particular economic positions, but I’m absolutely bewildered that they can look around at everything that’s happening and say, YES, MORE OF THIS IS WHAT I WANT.
It was another tough journey across the channel (poor poor pitiful me); you can’t pretend this isn’t the new normal. It is of course unsurprising and disheartening to see both the Port of Dover authorities and others blame the French for not putting on enough staff. Kent of course voted overwhelmingly to leave the EU, and so the 6-hour 4-mile queues on the M2; operation Brock on the M20; the long delays at the Eurotunnel are exactly what they voted for. I feel like all media outlets ought to – as a matter of course – mention that all these delays were caused by Brexit.
This is what the end of free movement looks like, though I’m pretty sure the high numbers of Polish, French, German, and Dutch travellers I saw on Thursday at the channel tunnel didn’t vote for it. To be fair to the French authorities, you have to wonder why they would feel obliged to invest in more border control staff just because the UK shat its pants over Boris Johnson’s invented straight bananas. I wouldn’t if I were them. But actually, they have doubled the number of passport control lanes at Eurotunnel. They just haven’t staffed them, which is amusing. The British, of course, have not doubled the number of lanes, though I did notice that the performative and dickish checking of passports isn’t quite as performatively elaborate this time around. You can take a joke too far. Mind you, you can be unlucky and get in the queue of The Chatty One. Extroverts should not be allowed to check passports.
(My own oft-stated position is that passports are bullshit and I believe in free movement to the extent of abolishing all border controls. If you’re going to be killed by a bomb, it will be while you’re forced into a confined space in a crowd. And if people are insane enough to want to live in dystopian Britain, let them knock themselves out.)
Anyway, this time around I decided that the overnight travel option is no longer the best. Because people have cottoned on, and overnight is now slammed. We were booked to cross at 10:20 and didn’t arrive in France until the small hours. We’d been waiting a long time, too, because you can’t rely on the roads on any given day for a million reasons, which mostly come down to one: people are terrible. So it was because we were so early that I noticed how much emptier the car park was at 6pm compared to 10pm. Next time, I might bite the bullet and pay more for an earlier train. You’d have to book this in advance because they were fully booked by the time we arrived. The nuclear option is to pay through the nose for Flexi+ queue-jumping, but I’ve a feeling that a lot of people will start doing this very soon. Flexi+ is like EasyJet early boarding. It only works if hardly anybody pays for it.
Eurotunnel on Thursday had technical issues (needed to restart their computer, I reckon) so had reverted to audio announcements of letters for boarding. People being terrible, I made a point of watching them behave terribly. As soon as “passengers with the letter H” was announced, you’d see a lot of H’s pass by, with the occasional late E and G. But you’d also see M’s and N’s, L’s, and even an extremely cheeky T. And there was a guy in a hi-viz jacket stopping every single one of the cheeky bastards and telling them to go back to the car park and wait for their call.
No harm done, you’d think, except – clearly – people trying to board when it wasn’t their turn are taking up space, getting in the way, adding to delays because every single one of them had to be stopped and spoken to while people with the correct letter queued behind them.
And this is why I find this whole experience so stressful. I get that I’m going to be punished by the French because 52% of the population are twats, but then the Twattish Tendency are the ones making everything worse by trying to jump the queue.
It seems to me that the principle of fairness drives a lot of political events. Even the Twattish Tendency felt it was wrong of Johnson and Carrie to keep partying while the nation was locked down. The grievance that was nurtured by the right wing press against the EU was also based in fairness: that false narrative that we, Britain, were having to take more of them, refugees, than other European nations. Facts and figures gave the lie to this, but you can’t argue with the Twattish Tendency with facts. And yet the same twats who bleat about unfairness in those circumstances will try to jump the queue to board a train.
As another Twitter wag has pointed out, hypocrisy is a feature – not a bug – of right wing politics. Being prepared to make an exception in your own case is a little wink to the camera, a breaking of the fourth wall. I noticed this as a feature of lockdown rules too. If you were black or brown and having a party you were far more likely to get a fine than if you were a “nice middle class white person” having a few friends around for drinkies in the garden. When we make rules, the rules are for them, not for us. None of the Polish, French, German, and Dutch travellers voted for long waits at the border, but those long delays are for them, not for the Twattish Tendency, who think they should just be waved through. Flexi+ beckons for the Twattish Tendency. Which is for them, not us.