In the wake of a catastrophe as total as the rise of the Norsefire Party and its continuing control over most of the British mainland, it is only rational to consider the path that led us here and only human to look for someone to blame.
Obviously, the bulk of the blame for the atrocities of Norsefire must be laid at the feet of the party itself. Susan. Creedy. Almond. These names will forever live in infamy. But who laid the groundwork for their rise? Who, through inaction, cowardice, blindness or ignorance, set the stage for the coming horror? As the reader will soon come to realise, there is plenty of blame to go around and precious little praise.
The morning of the second Brexit referendum was greeted by the media and political establishment with a near unanimous sigh of relief. The British people, after three gruelling, terrifyingly uncertain years, had voted by a majority of 53% to reverse their 2016 decision to leave the European Union. The pro-Remain press was exultant, the pro-Brexit papers largely subdued and magnanimous in defeat. The prevailing sentiment, at least in Fleet Street and Whitehall, was that Britain had narrowly avoided economic and social catastrophe and that the entire affair was to be forgotten about as quickly as possible.
But outside London, far from the eyes and ears of nation’s rulers, there were others. These were the people who had fought tooth and nail during the 2016 referendum and who had experienced a joy verging on the ecstatic when, against all odds, they had secured a victory which (to them) had seemed miraculous. Incredible. Ordained by God. But God, apparently, was no match for Brussels.
The people had spoken. And Europe had said “Non”. Their joy now curdled into a fury as all-consuming as it was unforeseen.
To be fair, some of the complaints against the second referendum were legitimate. The choice put to the electorate was between three options:
1) A “no deal” Brexit which would have plunged the nation into immediate economic crisis and resulted in shortages of food and medicine.
2) The “soft Brexit” negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May with the EU which was roundly despised by all sides of the debate.
3) Simply remaining in the EU.
It was pointed out that, by offering two “Brexit” choices to one “Remain” choice, the Brexit vote had been effectively split. This was a talking point often espoused by Susan in the early days of the Norsefire party. But, whatever its merits, Susan can hardly have been said to have been making the argument in good faith. While previous hard right parties had at least made a pretense towards democratic legitimacy, Norsefire had no time for such frippery. Democracy was a sham and Norsefire would not indulge it. The referendum was the final proof; if the elites (subtly and later blatantly implied to be Jewish, Muslim, people of colour, sexually non-conforming or Irish) did not care for a particular democratic result, they would simply reverse it. The secret hand that moved the world had revealed itself. Democracy itself must be discarded.
“Keep your votes” Susan famously said at the first formal meeting of the Norsefire Aesir. “Give us power.”
In speculative fiction written after the Second World War, a common scenario was to have a fascist takeover occur in a Western democracy following a nuclear war, the (charmingly optimistic) view being that only such a drastic event could erase centuries of democratic convention and liberal values. But fascism does not require destruction or chaos to arise. The effects of the Great Depression had mostly faded long before Hitler took power. Fascism requires only resentment and rage. With the reversal of the 2016 referendum, Norsefire had their Versailles, their stab in the back myth, their “November Criminals”.
Never mind that the result was simply a reflection of the fact that millions of Britons had realised they had been sold a bill of goods by Fargage, Reese-Mogg, Johnson et al, with Putin in the shadows diligantly counting receipts.
With the rage of a little less than half the population and the barely concealed support of a US president now in the advanced stages of the neurological condition that would eventually claim his life, Norsefire had everything it needed.
The rest is history.
So who is to blame for the rise of Norsefire? Historians go through their phases. Teresa May, once reviled as their enabler, is now more commonly seen as an unfortunate fall guy who tried to do the best she could with an impossible situation. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, is often criticised for his less than robust defence of the UK’s membership of the EU during the first referendum. And David Cameron, the now almost forgotten Prime Minister who preceded May, is frequently blamed for agreeing to ask the British people if they wanted to leave the EU in the first place. But as one contemporary blogger put it: “Cameron’s fault? Really? If I ask you “Would you like to drink some bleach?” and you say “Yes!” and then you die is that my fault? Maybe a little. But honestly? That’s mostly on you.”