Pariah is a retrospect of Tony Blair’s recent New Labour plebiscite, so far the most absurd ‘election’ of the twenty-first century. After a much-vaunted Constitutional Revolution, overwhelming victory was obtained on less than a quarter of the electoral register, with more people abstaining than voted for Blair. In 2000 the Constitution of the United States collapsed into farce; in 2001 it was the turn of the United Kingdom, as the oldest and most stable of Western democracies turned into a despised pariah of the global age. ‘How is Britain breaking up?’ asks Tom Nairn. Is there any chance – or indeed any need – of its being repaired?
In this corrosive polemic Nairn argues that democratic and constitutional reform alone provides an answer to such questions. But the longer the British ancien regime endures, the less chance there will be of such changes taking place by agreement. ‘Reform or perish’ is the moral; but perish farther looks like the only way towards reform.