It is a rainy morning again. We get very few where I live, so while I am practically confined indoors it may help me to write down my thoughts about the profound change of direction the government is aiming to make, that of Brexit. I was asked to write a guest blog following the EU referendum which you can read here:
My hope as I expressed then, was that Mrs May would provide our best chance of an honest competent leader who might be able to steer us through a time of profound and dangerous change. I fear that far from that, she has been dragged by the right wing activists in her party, the ones who had rendered Conservatives unelectable for many years before, to a place of unpredictable chaos, and far from leading in a pragmatic direction, she has floundered around, with no obvious achievable end points.
The reason for this is clear, she cannot define a positive outcome, any clearer than, ‘A red white and blue Brexit’, or some other ‘Motherhood and Apple Pie’ result, as any specifics will tear her party apart. While I might wish for her to bring that on, I should be cautious because it is not only her party that is deeply divided, but the country is still riven, just as it was during the referendum.
Less prosperous areas of England still see foreigners as an enemy, and have not changed their views very much since the referendum. They talk of a European super state, which lacks democracy, and they believe that. The economy in these places includes people languishing on minimum wage, universal credit or debt. There are also many people supporting Brexit who are self-employed, people such as garage owners, hairdressers, small café owners, builders and painters and decorators. They legitimately think that their hard work, for rather limited reward, should produce a better livelihood, always looking at the more prosperous people in the capital and some university towns, whom they think are over rewarded.
A change that has occurred is that the educated people of the country have discovered a passion since the shock of the referendum, to speak up for modern values and an international outlook, and to oppose Brexit. Generally speaking most of these, including myself, were reluctant to speak out during the campaign because Remain was mostly defended, by the establishment of David Cameron and the compromised opposition parties, which they did not relate to. Now the debate is active, while during the campaign the ‘remain’ side was muted.
I am perfectly comfortable now to challenge the powerful backers of Brexit. Arron Banks who stands to make more money from insurance, Farage who blatantly misled people about the facts of immigration, Johnson and Gove who played cynical moves for self-promotion and Carswell who was very skilled at passively reflecting, under the surface, working class racism in my own constituency.
I am uneasy about the type of challenges that people make though to working class Brexiters, which we have heard expressed in places as far afield as Cornwall, Tyne and Wear, South Wales and Clacton. These people are not cynical. The neoliberal economics of Blair, Cameron and so many of our politicians have not provided a fair deal for working people in the country. The problems of people without capital must be addressed.
Our government, opposition parties and people are divided. I think this is because the establishment itself is divided. The Conservative Party has suffered this cold war ever since the aftermath of Mrs Thatcher’s government. Now the nationalist tendency has taken control of the agenda. Mrs May whom I thought was chosen as the last competent potential leader of the Conservatives, who could hold the party together, has been dragged to the extreme. That seems to be where we are.
Personally I am also divided. It is clear to me that if Brexit occurs, the country, Europe and the world will be a worse place. However I don’t want to see Brexit defeated by clever manoeuvrings by politicians and their vested interests. While I would love to see Banks and Johnson consigned to the rightful place, where their influence is obliterated, I want the working communities of England to also back this outcome. This is why I will not be told by the Archbishop of Canterbury or anyone else that I should be backing this new status quo. I cannot get behind this shambles.
I don’t know the outcome of these events and do not even know whether the economy is going to plummet. That is not my field. I was one who marched on three protests in London against the Iraq war. I thought Tony Blair would listen to that many people, but he didn’t. However I had protested and I have to say my bit now too. I will have to fight for decent values such as environmental and employment regulations whatever the outcome of future events.