Democracy is in crisis. In the Middle East the Arab Spring inspired high hopes that were dashed and resulted in violence and failed states. Populism has emerged all over Europe and USA where it has led to the Trump phenomenon. In the UK a democratic crisis has come to a head over Brexit. It has exposed the need for fundamental economic and social reform, a fair voting system and a new written constitution.
Undoubtedly the EU is a flawed institution. Whilst it has many good features, the EU systematically transfers wealth from southern countries – Greece, Italy and Spain – to the north. Under the current Greek recovery programme of the Troika it is impossible for that country to recover (DiEm25). Radical reform is needed of a resistant EU. Nevertheless for the UK Brexit will be an act of self-harm, particularly damaging to the lives of young and poorer people. It is vital that the UK has a seat at the EU table and plays a constructive part in bringing about fundamental change. Given the environmental dangers that are becoming all too clear, and the threat of nuclear war, the UK needs to work with Europe and not isolate itself.
The Brexit process is undemocratic. Brexit is being inflicted on us in a profoundly undemocratic way. A C Grayling thinks This Brexit mess has gone far enough.
His new book Democracy and Its Crisis is available now.
The constant refrain – Brexit is the will of the people – is nonsense. Astonishingly, it goes almost entirely unchallenged inside Parliament and in the media. Repetition again and again, whenever the issue is discussed on the BBC, reinforces a falsehood in people’s minds. Anyone who repeats this mantra is knowingly or unknowingly supporting the oligarchy’s grip on power in the UK.
Such a major constitutional change as Brexit would, in most nations, require a two thirds majority. Instead we have a minority government pushing it through without a proper mandate. The facts are that 51.9% voted for Brexit and 48.1% voted for Remain a difference of only 3.8%; Only 37% of the 46 million electorate voted for Brexit. Furthermore, the public mood is changing as the complexities and consequences emerge.
The UK is deeply divided in multiple ways as voting patterns have shown The Glorious Referendum on the EU – Why it doesn’t represent the will of the people and Brexit vote explained: poverty, low skills and lack of opportunities and Worst-off people and places cannot now be ignored ..
Many people in the UK are deeply depressed, afraid of the consequences for them and our children. What is happening is alien to British values. Our European friends working here feel unwelcome; many are leaving. Under the first past the post voting, half of us feel unrepresented by their MP and this government. Under the current system, half our votes are wasted (June’s election was the third strike for Westminster’s voting system. It’s out) . Many are totally disaffected with politics.
A courageous statesman/woman would say: We were wrong. The referendum was flawed and inappropriate. Citizens did not and could not have had the necessary information about the consequences. We need to draw back and stop it. The referendum exposed Britain’s deep problems.
Britain’s economic model is broken and produces widespread inequality, says a new report from the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice. Time for Change: A New Vision for the British Economy presents an analysis of what it calls ‘The British economic muddle’ and concludes that fundamental economic reform is needed, on a par with the Attlee reforms of the 1940s and those of Thatcher in the 1980s.
We need fundamental constitutional reform. Already a political consensus is emerging. Courage and integrity are needed to enable this to happen. My two recent blogs address these issues: Collaborating for Change posted by Resurgence Ecologist calls for a transformation in way we do politics. Progressive leadership for the 21st century calls for great leadership. But, as I argue in this piece, it seems that such leadership only emerges when the situation is dire and there is readiness amongst citizens.
The future of politics. I believe we are at a significant turning point. This newly published book All Together Now sets out what could be the future of politics in the UK.
What can you do? Support the many campaigns for political reform and human rights :Electoral Reform Society, Citizens Assembly Project, Unlock Democracy, Make Votes Matter, Counting Women In, 5050Parliament, Women’s Equality Party and Voice4 and Liberty, Compass ,The Progressive Alliance , Progressive Alliance, CommonGround – Fair, open, honest politics