One week on from the shock of the Leave Vote winning the EU In/Out Referendum, and the country is still reeling in a state of fury, dismay, confusion, denial and regret. There have been marches and protests against the result – one might say, against democracy itself. Instead of sulking over the drop in the value of their shares and properties, the well-off should spare a thought for the deep seething discontent in the country, and realise that our current political system has created this and continues to fuel it.
Our political leadership has been exposed as lightweight and not up to the job of leading us out of this mess. Opportunistic politicians have chosen instead to plunge the knife into rivals with personal ambition uppermost in their minds. We were not prepared for a Leave Vote because the Conservative Party in government were busy assuring international partners that they would succeed in threatening and bullying the electorate into voting Remain. They failed, and now stand like rabbits caught in the headlights of a runaway truck, careering madly across the cultural, social and political landscape.
“Rarely if ever in our lifetimes has Britain faced such an uncertain and unpredictable future. Rarely have the main parties at Westminster been, simultaneously, in such chaotic disarray. Who can recall a time when such a large section of the public, and not only the 48% who voted Remain, was in a state of such furious anger, confusion, denial, regret or heartfelt dismay?” The Observer (03/07/16). We could fight them on the beaches, but who should we fight? And who are we, anyway?
Personally, I feel the country should accept the outcome of the referendum and get behind a settlement for the nation so we can move forward. This settlement must include listening to the voices of those who voted Leave, many voices of protest from those who feel a deep rooted resentment against the London-based ruling elite, who carry on their merry way, regardless of which party is in power, with their capitalist agenda, marginalising and patronising those who get in their way.
The Conservative Party has opened Pandora’s Box and must now be ruing their miscalculation in believing they could manipulate the outcome of the referendum to come down on the side of political and economic stability – the side that would allow the preservation of the status quo and the continuation of the damaging policies of divide and rule. Vote Remain was seen as good for business, despite the fact that many see the EU as an undemocratic organisation in the process of morphing into a Federal Superstate. Their political objects are not ours, and so a Leave Vote appealed to many in the UK – 52%, in fact.
However, as a result of the vote, we find ourselves at a social.political and cultural crossroads, and need to ask ourselves the question, ‘Who are we?’ A national debate on who we are and what society we want to live in should be fired up, to curtail the forces of greed, nationalism, xenophobia and division who lurk in the wings waiting for their moment.
The main problem I foresee is our lack of leadership, as our two main political parties are riven with infighting and hopelessly ill-equipped to address the fundamental divisions in our fractured society. The Labour Party, having shuffled to the centre ground of British politics, is now disconnected from the core working class, and have become accomplices to the seemingly irresistible forces of ‘free market economics’, ‘International Capitalism’ or simply, ‘Thatcherism’, take your pick.
The mass influx of cheaper labour to feed the machine has caused widespread discontent, as British citizens have been told to ‘shut up and get on with it’. Well now they have had their chance to protest, via the In/Out referendum, and have chosen to stick two fingers up to the Establishment, and the sham democracy that leaves them as powerless serfs in an age of greed.
Can the Labour Party shake itself out of its torpor? What of the Green Party? They should get together and start a national movement for change. Citizens Against Capitalism. For starters, school leavers should be given clear guidance and training to do the jobs required, and we should focus more on producing what we consume. Let the business community find new markets through the world wide web – are trade deals even relevant anymore? Some fresh thinking is required, but can we find the leaders needed to drive the process?
In my near-future novel, Devil Gate Dawn, set just 10 years from now, I predict increasing divisions in British society following Brexit, that leads to a mass General Election boycott, followed by a Government of National Unity headed by King Charles. It was complete fantasy just two weeks ago, but now has been described as ‘increasingly believable’. My everyman hero, George, gets dragged into helping the police track down a deadly terror group, as they are forced to flee their homes and hide in the countryside… let’s hope it won’t come to this.