Labour and Tory are Electoral Coalitions Which Have Been Broken
The referendum last week as a fundamental break in British politics. While article 50 remains uninvoked, I remain hopeful it won’t be. There is now a pro-European backlash representing nearly half the country. Maybe more, given the buyer’s remorse from leave voters who didn’t expect to win and now realise the consequences are potentially vast.
Whatever, the die is cast. There were 2 leave campaigns. One, an open-society, free-trade vision with which I have some sympathy. Already, the USA, Canada, Australia and Ghana have reached out for free trade with us. New Zealand, those dear, distant friends (except during the 80 minutes of a Rugby match) have gone further and offered their trade negotiators to boost the UK’s corps of 12.
This is welcome, and it’s a start. But it won’t go close to replacing the benefits of the single market. Not least because many of the benefits of free trade with these Nations we effectively enjoyed or will have enjoyed anyway one day within the EU.
This free trade vision of post-brexit Britain was not the loudest voice, and the main effect of the brexit referendum was to draw the battle lines between those who desire and open Society, and those who desire a closed Society.
If the Tory Labour split was mainly about economics, taxation and redistribution, a battle the free market privatising Tories comprehensively won. the new culture war is about what sort of society we want to be. Imagine this split looking something like spectrum between the Liberal Democrats, and UKIP. The current electoral coalition is no longer fit for purpose.
It looks like the party that has brought this catastrophe upon us, will end up being the chief beneficiary in electoral terms, at least in the short term. If the Tories manage a coronation of Theresa May and not go to the party in the country with a final shortlist of two, they will have achieved a vision of competence that perhaps they no longer deserve.
Assuming no major disaster beyond that expected, labour being in complete disarray will be unable to capitalise on the chaos of the brexit negotiations. Furthermore labour have been abandoned by large swathes of the electorate in the Heartlands of the North, adding to their wipeout in Scotland.
John Major’s “Bastards” however, are working hard. Having won the first battle in the culture War they are looking to press home their advantage and install one of their social conservative candidates as prime minister. UKIP candidates already rejoining the Conservative Party.
However it is premature to write off the Conservative Party to the morlocks just yet. UKIP will become an electoral Force across large swathes of England. Corbyn will have achieved his function and destroyed the Labour Party reducing it to a few hold out in a few cities.
If UKIP does indeed become electrically successful, expect to see the right of the Conservative Party move that way. This leaves a space within the Conservative Party for the sensible elements of the Labour Party who have come to terms with the twentieth century’s economic settlement to make common cause with their fellow open Society advocates across the floor of the commons.
Just as the Labour leadership election going on at present is about the ownership of the Labour brand, (does it belong to hard left socialist, or the social Democrats of the centre?) so is the Tories’. If Leadsom wins the leadership election, then the Tories will move right and absorb UKIP. May, supported almost exclusively by the Tory MPs who favoured remain, Leads the liberals, but whichever way The Tory Party will dominate politics for the foreseeable future (about 3 days at present…)
The Be.Leavers may think this choice of Prime Minister is about Europe, but actually it’s about an open vs a closed society.
The European Union was a hard institution to love. I was certainly a harsh critic of it. It’s hubris in assuming the trappings of a state, are a large cause of the resentment. Unbecoming arrogance from the panjandrums of Brussels didn’t help.They revelled in the myths of their omnipotent Power, myths which fed the Paranoid delusions of the people who want to leave.
However I never felt compelled to make destroying it my life’s purpose. I suspect the EU is an institution who’s value only becomes apparent when it’s gone. It seems that the Scots viewed Europe as something of a counterweight to the hegemon to their South. As such the European Union had become one of the ties that bound the Union together. The the European Union was Central to the Anglo Irish settlement.
Above all above all the European Union was a crucial part of the Post cold war security architecture of Europe. It seems likely that Russia under Putin will get a much easier ride from a European Union that does not contain the United Kingdom. We are weakened. And Putin is emboldened. As are the idiot populists of the democratic world, who seek to thow up borders, pull up the drawbridge and sulk at the modern world.
I’ve seen this flick before, and it doesn’t have a happy ending.
This also comes down to identity. We have seen a rise of English and Scottish identity, and a fall of British identity. Britain is the loser. British is an identity into which it is much easier to assimilate new citizens. And as for me, I am not English. I am British. I am not European, I am a man of the West. Brexit has divided Britain. It’s risks dividing to West. And it almost certainly will makeus poorer weaker, and less able to confront the new threats of the world. It is, for most people who voted for it, a vision of little England, not caring about the Scots, or the Irish, or our friends and allies accross the continent. This isn’t the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland I have served most of my adult life.
I Lament the loss of the world European Union was trying imperfectly to create: one of trade openness and political stability. A Unified West Staring Down our enemies and keeping the world free. If there is one lesson of history it is that revolutions eat their children, and nothing good comes from smashing functioning institutions.
Pour your bile into the comments. I have chosen my side. It’s whoever stands for an open Society, free trade, low taxes, constitutional conservatism and economic competence. That half of the Conservative Party still exists.
My Great Britain still exists.
Still up the longest river in Africa then !
I hope you get everything you wish for. Good and hard
Possibly worth posting a revised version of this when less tired and emotional?
Can I blame any errors on my voice recognition software
Can I blame any errors on my voice recognition software
An interesting, measured response, to be consumed with the analysis of Prof Dougan (European Politics & Law, Liverpool) recorded BEFORE the vote, just as Nick Clegg's seminal article on 22nd June. Tellingly his estimate of even beginning to conclude a most basic trade deal is 10 years. Switzerland began negotiations in 1972, but has not concluded a complete package….
I don't understand why what seems to me a perfectly reasonable and perceptive piece has elicited the vulgar abuse in some of the earlier comments. I'm afraid that the Leave campaign had a nasty streak, which has not gone away.
I personally would welcome the creation of a moderate centre party. But it's very unlikely that this will happen.
Where I disagree with Jackart concerns his characterisation of Teresa May as leading the liberal wing. She seems to me authoritarian, and far too keen to tackle any problem by extending police and state powers rather than getting existing powers used to better effect.
"If there is one lesson of history it is that revolutions eat their children, and nothing good comes from smashing functioning institutions".
Like the nation state, NATO, Interpol, The Commonwealth, etc. etc. just so that we can have a European super-state with no demos and no democracy but a host of well paid and pensioned jobs for functionaries where nothing changes except more of the same?
In every election/referendum there are losers, I never voted for Blair but respected his right to form a government. You lost, get used to it. Little or none of the apocalyptic gloom that was predicted by Remain has happened and Britain will do very nicely as a self determining nation once again. Just about the only thing I agree with in your post is that 'The EU was very difficult to like' but it was more than that. It was impossible to like and remain in bed with an organisation built to serve itself and not the member states. God bless the United Kingdom.