This post is going out in the middle of the most uncertain political climate we may ever have had in Britain in Peacetime. Most of this is hypothetical rambling about possibilities of changes that would have seemed impossible a week or two ago. We can but dream…
It’s incredible the effect the EU referendum has had, and it’s going to snowball more and more. Some of the fissures which have appeared have been under the surface for some time, but the referendum has been the catalyst to expose them and kick things on. When the UK electorate finally had a vote on an issue that they cared about, they came out in their droves and delivered a clear verdict.
Since then the establishment has been in meltdown and the Labour Party took just days to implode. They established Westminster Parties have spent decades trying not to let the people have any say on the EU question (and Immigration) but that cosy consensus was busted open last week.
There is, I feel about to be a seismic shift in several parts over the next 10-15 years. This post may well serve as a proof point of how close or how far of I really was (written knowing prophecy of this kind is nobody’s strong suit).
The Political Parties
It looks likely Labour is going to split into two. This is not some future prediction, this is current events. I think Corbyn is going to dig in and I’ve seen enough chatter on Twitter to suggest this notion is a little more advanced than pie-in-the-sky. There’s probably going to be a Progressive Social Democratic party emerge from the wreckage which will hoover up the New Labour, Blairites and the illiberal anti-democrats in the fraudulently named Liberal Democrat Party. If it happens, this will be the party for international governance & supranational government, a friend of the big corporations dressed up in the guise of compassionate, hug an [insert disaffected group here], paradigm shifting, ever reinventing, gender fluid and student activists.
From the red corner will emerge a truly socialist Labour Party, warm beer and corned beef sandwiches for the union boys, champagne and prawn sandwiches for the select few elevated thought leaders.
The Tories will ride on the coat tails of the split, oblivious that the fissure will get them too. If they get this leadership election and the events of in the short to medium term right they can keep the show on the road for a few more years, but events and consequences will catch up to them too. By getting it right I mean, Boris as PM, Leadsom & Gove in key roles, May still in Home Office and a decent Brexit deal – plus Free Trade Deals ready or close with Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland and China.
However, the Tories are still toxic. Hiroshima will be radiation free before the Tory Party. There are millions of people in the country who “wouldn’t waste their piss on a Tory if he/she was on fire”. They’ve got to win in the same swing seats. When it was Tory vs Labour it’s the same 60-80 swing seats and narrow manifesto divisions, but if Labour split there’s a new dynamic, one which if it doesn’t shift soon, could irreversibly swing in the next phase of political change to which we’re just in the embryo stage of now.
What’s also become clear is, over 17 million people came out and voted for Brexit, when UKIP, which traditionally seen as a single issue party could only muster 4 million just a year ago in the General Election. Put another way, 13 million people agree with UKIP’s core message, yet voted for someone else.
This is not a post about how UKIP are going to come to power at the next, or any future election.
However, millions of Labour people who wouldn’t go near anyone in a blue rosette, who will use the term “Tory” as a slur, when all the other slurs just aren’t hurtful enough came out and voted for the same core issue as UKIP, a party that is (debate aside) painted as to the right of the Tories.
Many have commented that it’s UKIP’s willingness to listen to voters and to put issues on the table that they feel they have been ignored on. These people proved ready to move when the offer was right, even if tradition and loyalty have meant in the past, if they did turn out, they always vote for the Labour candidate.
Well, what if the Labour Party is no more? Maybe that’s the catalyst for a shift in these traditional Labour strongholds? I think there is an appetite to change rather substantially from the system we’ve become accustomed to in the past 40 years or so.
I sense that UKIP tapped into something a different, non-Tory alternative on the right could tap into in the coming years. A party of the right could win in Labour Heartlands – people there are getting sick of Labour but hate the alternatives more.
Unfortunately, short of a terrible Brexit Deal, I suspect UKIP will be seen as having had it’s day – somewhere after the next election, presumably on the road to 2025.
I have a suspicion that Nigel Farage will be ready to move on in the near-term to something different, possibly away from politics once the deal is done and at that point, UKIP may fade too. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think there are some really great people in UKIP, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they proved me wrong. Whoever takes over from Farage will almost certainly want to approach a facelift/image change and there’s a whole bunch of Kippers who’ll instantly fade away. Whoever the then future, hypothetical leader is then, they and UKIPs future successes will depend on navigating the changing landscape, and seeing if they can win new voters in greater numbers to the one’s they lose.
If UKIP can’t contest the centre-right ground, then it’s the aforementioned Social Democratic party who’ll hoover up, just like in the ‘New Labour’ days of Blair. There is a space there for a new centre-right party to try and sit in the space the two well battered/slurred right sided parties currently are positioned. In my hypothetical future, a mood sensing the old parties dying in favour of new and fresh parties might hit UKIP hard too.
We can’t put the Genie back in the lamp. The EU referendum has energised people politically. It did feel like the EU Referendum Campaign got very bitter and dark and it was certainly polarising, but this is, at least in part because for the first time (and if Remain had won, likely the last time…) every single person’s vote counted. It wasn’t just the swing seats that mattered, every vote mattered and both sides knew the stakes had never been higher.
It’s easy to say it was bitter and we should rise above it. A real, genuine tragedy occurred a week before the EU referendum when an MP was killed. She was killed by a madman, who had mental health issues. In the mourning, there were calls for politics to be better than it had been, to raise the tone and fight the good fight. It took days, DAYS for it to descend back into the gutter. Dragged there I might add by the losing side who have spent the best part of the last week proving they have only the scantest regard for Democracy when it serves to legitimise their own agendas and viewpoints. I digress.
Whether you’re still giddy and over the moon, or whether your angry and bitter, the lesson surely is, this referendum mattered. Each and every vote cast mattered. Some of the people who lost say, we should never have another referendum, others say let’s have a second referendum (undoubtedly if they won, that would be binding, and the last). I say, we should have more of them, and more decisions made directly by the people.
The Future of Parliament
I said before and I’ll say it again (I seem to be the only one) – Parliament is no longer Sovereign. You can bleat all you like about the EU referendum not being a binding vote, but Parliament will listen to it and do as the people have instructed.
It’s more than that, though.
If Parliament had of been the decision make, on the 23rd June 2016, the UK would have stayed in the UK. As it stands the people, knowing full well the dynamics of how Westminster would have voted and have done so many times in the past, they came out and delivered a stinging rebuke to the law makers past and present and elevated themselves above Parliament and above the Politicians.
Politicians out there now bemoaning the result, encouraging hate fuelled disrespectful comments and behaviour will find they will soon be out of a job. Democracy must be respected, or the fabric of civilisation will fall away.
We’re going to need a better system. The Lords surely can’t survive much longer, particularly now it’s full of appointees. The metropolitan Areas are over-represented in the Commons, perhaps the Counties could all get 1 seat in the upper house to help redress that balance in some new arrangement.
France has MP’s for ex-pats living abroad, why not in Parliament too? Might that also be a better system than having people register to former constituent areas, that one’s surely a little difficult and inconsistent to manage/police?
As as we seem to follow so many trends from abroad, why not go somewhere in the middle of the French and American systems and have a national vote on the PM – with an initial caucus or primary on the nominees?
Fanciful thinking maybe. But I do believe things have been sufficiently shaken up in the last week that nothing is off the table.