Monday, 27 June 2016

More After the Referendum

Pub night with friends, and all agreed on one aspect at least that the stupid referendum has now led to political and economic chaos, that so many people we met on polling day and after were exit people and yet seemed to have voted in relative ignorance. At a wedding and a post-referendum conversation, the person says to my friend, 'Oh I didn't know this, and I can't like go back and vote again.' I've said of the daughter whose firm may as well relocate into the EU area now. He reckoned she may well end up living in America! We agreed too that there is only one person to blame for this: the masterless tactician David Cameron. But we disagreed too, and here is how things have moved on.

In contrast: had stay-in won, the Conservative Party would have split. We'd have retained economic certainty but politics would have been rolling around. And having come out, for now it is the Labour Party potentially splitting. If Jeremy Corbyn stands for the leadership and wins again, he will end up with a virtual second party in Parliament of Labour MPs doing their own thing.

Now I might be sympathetic to Corbyn, but I am not and here is why. In constituency after constituency, UKIP is second to Labour. If Labour cannot connect with the public, one that voted for exiting - and this takes the ability to communicate and reassure as well as principles, then there will be a tipping point of a group of UKIP MPs into Parliament leaving a rump Labour Party - Scotland all over again, but in the north.

Now I'd rather have a quarter of a loaf than a negative loaf. So, as I said to my friends, Labour needs someone who can talk (a little) nasty, who can communicate, northern too. Not another 'metropolitan' like Chuka Umunna, or some Blairite, but someone who can bite. I don't like Caroline Flint, which makes her or like her a good candidate. Someone who performs in Parliament, but more so who looks like they can handle tough and difficult matters and people.

I'd be more pro-Corbyn but he was half-hearted in the Europe campaign, and I was predicting a necessary General Election around the corner because the Referendum was never going to solve the Tory Party problem - either way in fact. This General Election is coming down the line.

A General Election trumps a Referendum. What would give our representatives (we are a representative democracy after all - not a direct democracy, and boy doesn't this referendum demonstrate why) the right to stand against this referendum is to stand for parliament on that basis of saying the referendum was wrong in conception, contradictory promises and outcome.

So plates (tectonics) shift and new realities arise. I said tonight the Liberal Democrats did what they did in the past because the "Orange Mob" took over and yes they did prop-up Cameron. (In fact they made him a functional leader, after which he became as overstretched as Anthony Eden but without the gravitas). But if they learn from their error and stand on the basis of maintaining our membership of the EU, then they give to themselves that mandate. It might attract a minority of votes but also could be a good minority and the basis of recovery. Some of us would need persuading to go back again, but times change and needs change. Politics is about responding and being relevant. One friend says the Liberal Democrats can do this because they believe in nothing: not so, because they have always been pro-European. It is hardly 'believing in nothing' to stand against a referendum result.

Pure socialism? Me a socialist? No, I said - I have always been a "social liberal", and it has a long history. I like Corbyn but I didn't vote for him and would not again for the reason that I am not Labour. One friend is considering full membership of Labour, but not the purist Socialist. Whereas - yes - I can be flexible enough to change my vote. And easily forgotten is our friends also voted in the Coalition: not that any of us intended this. We were betrayed by the Liberal Democrats.

But I'm sorry because I like Corbyn. But there isn't the time to do my friend's "get rid of the lot of them" from Parliament who he calls "Tories". To me they are not Tories at all anyway. Whatever one thinks of the legacy of the Blair years, these are actual realities. Karl Turner MP (ours) may be useless, but he's not a Tory or even Blairite, but his ditching of Corbyn is a reality on the ground. It may be a pre-discussed Benn-led coup and all that, but with a General Election soon it is still facts on the ground.

Otherwise it is a big Tory win, and UKIP nasties leaving a rump Labour Party in Britain. Yes I want rail, utilities, a bank at least, a building firm for houses, nationalised, but nationalised with a workers' co-op aspect, not the old 1940s top-down Civil Service model of running the commanding heights. I'm with Corbyn on such. But we are now in acute danger of going back to the 1970s economically - an economy based on food and shelter, of losing internationalism, of losing people-movement through Europe back and forth, of losing the core relationships with our near continent, losing economic and social liberties, and loss of the vision of sharing with those like us. The Barbarians are at the door, and they have to be countered.

The stench is also from the racists released, people who were being slowly repressed and controlled in part due to our wider European outlook, however challenging that was with such movement of people across the world. Now they are expecting the foreign to 'go home' and it is just bloody nasty stuff.

Well, I don't care how we restore matters. But in Real Politik, we go from this referendum result. We say to Johnson, Gove and Farage: "Go and negotiate then." And let's then, quite possibly, have a second referendum when you don't come up with what you promised. You can't, because what you promised was contradictory. My socialist friend says no second referendum and the other ain't so sure. I am - whatever it takes to restore sanity. So, see what they promise, set against a diminished economy of course. As Alex Salmond said, and my retailing friend knows, 'if you break it you keep it'. They broke it and it is theirs to negotiate.

And Nicola Sturgeon's brief is to deal with Scotland. The Scottish Parliament is in part devolved in the context of the European Union already. And if the Parliament does not consent, then over to the UK Supreme Court to work that one out. If the new UK right wing refuse to grant a second referendum on Independence, a Scottish Parliament could declare UDI. That would be interesting.

A new Council of the British Isles was always the best way to sort out these islands, but that would be in an EU context too: especially considering the relationship between north and south of Ireland. Again, it's independent countries but co-operating, even co-ordination: including all of Ireland! And yet we might instead see not only a customs border in Ireland again, but one between England and Scotland. Two currencies on each island as well, two borders of import tariffs. Madness. Little England (and Wales still attached) would be the worst off and Ireland in a tense condition of unsatisfactory division.

Oh and our politicians have neither the ability nor the time to unravel European legislation, European law is deep in our body politic, and absorbed in our economic and cultural life. Parliament would have to sit day and night to unravel the Europe in the British bloodstream after 40+ years. These people aren't up to the job; the Civil Service is probably unwilling and too small.

Meanwhile, this is a moving situation, very fast at such a point of change - of shaking out. We haven't heard from Osborne because he is likely to produce what he promised, which is an Emergency Budget - austerity with knobs on. Tories for exit will oppose him, and if so the markets will slide into the abyss as the government loses control.

So: Labour must sort it out and fast in that Corbyn should do the decent thing and stand down. Labour is more than you, even more than your purist principles. Liberal Democrats - make the pro-European Union stance front and back of the manifesto for the coming General Election. Act fast because as the economy plunges into uncertainty, politics will need to speed up. But best of luck with this, the political class, because you have taken on more than you can chew.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

its only a stupid referendum cos you lost