This blog is being written on the Monday after the seismic events of the UK vote to leave the EU. Cameron has resigned and the Conservative Party, (formal title the Conservative and Unionist Party – somewhat ironic), is now in the throes of a leadership election. At the same time, Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition, The Parliamentary Labour Party, has decided, whilst their opponents are leaderless and rudderless and at their weakest, to mount a coup against a leader they see as ineffective. Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain – we can only imagine where that might take us. I know it’s more complex than this, but I’m keeping it relatively simple for the benefit of brevity.
The dust still remains to settle on the decision of those in England and Wales to leave the EU. However, it is becoming clear that many in the North of England and some in Wales voted to leave as a protest against what they saw as an unfeeling political and financial elite living in London and within the ‘Westminster Bubble’. They felt ignored. They’re right, they have been. That is until those concerned need the people’s vote and do and say anything to gain it For example, ‘The NHS will be better off by £350m a week...’ Interestingly, it was only after the vote we were told that such a statement was, ‘an intention, not a promise…‘ or, a good one this, ‘a mistake.’ Really? Here’s another, ‘We’ll address immigration…‘ Post vote, ‘it may take time to fully address...’ Those who obfuscated or told downright lies, in many cases both, are now being held to account to deliver on what they promised.
Fernand Braudel once wrote that ‘history can be divided into three movements: what moves rapidly, what moves slowly and what appears not to move at all.’ At the moment, it appears that we are experiencing the first. There has been a societal seismic shift and that expectations have been raised is without doubt. I am also confident they will not be met. The result will be increased cynicism and the view that politicians are ‘only in it for themselves.’ Many are not, are totally committed to the community they represent and try to engage in the politics of the possible. These politicians must have looked on aghast as they saw what was happening. Like many of us, they must now be deafened by the sound of screeching brakes as the promises made during the campaign are being ‘moderated’. However, the leaders of both campaigns need to be held to account. Somehow I don’t think it will happen.
I have written on this sense of alienation and frustration in a number of other blogs. I have also written about the use of language that generates hatred and distrust of others. When will those in power realise that there is always a cost to what they say? When will those in power learn that people will sometimes vote in a way that shows their contempt and dislike for the body politic? Especially when they feel powerless.
The comment, “The people have spoken…the bastards,” is said to have been uttered by California State Senate Candidate Dick Tuck, who lost an election to Richard Nixon in 1966. I would agree, they have. Currently, the people ‘speak’ by voting. We need to ensure the people are provided with a voting system that allows them to be heard more effectively. Currently this does not exist. In the UK, The First Past The Post, FPTP, is a broken and discredited system. In the US, you have a process that requires candidates to have deep pockets. If they don’t they invariably become beholden to some whose views of democracy might be questionable. If not addressed, then the people will ‘speak’. They will ‘speak’ by electing those who espouse a world view that reflects their own anger and sense of frustration. Thus come demagogues…
Then the people will not have just spoken, they will have roared. And if they do, it won’t be pretty.
‘Never leave anyone behind…’