Over a million people came from all over the UK to demand a second peoples vote. It was such a happy event. It felt so good to be there with lovely people of good will, of all ages, in all their diversity, having a great time. Mark you, I was exhausted when I got home.
We may be at the beginning of a benign turning point after two and a half frustratiing and, for meny people, miserable years of uncertainty and political chaos. There is certainly a lack of great leadership. I remind myself that, in the history, sometimes things need to get disastously bad before a dramatic change comes about. We learn from our mistakes. Perhaps this is a 1940 moment. A National Government was formed, Churchill replaced Chamberlain and the nation was united in winning the war, ultimately with American help. Subsequently a number of great leaders created a post-war settlement including the NHS in UK and much later the Europen Union emerged after several forms of European collaboration. Part of the intention was to prevent further wars in Europe. Now is certainly a defining moment in the 21st Century for the UK and Europe. Europe will have to respond not only to some of the underlying causes of Brexit but other discontents such as the flaws in a system that extracts wealth from south to north.
As I write, signatures in the petition to revoke Article 50 approach six million. This can hardly be ignored by government or Parliament. So there is a good chance that there will not only be a Peoples Vote but that revoking article 50 will be included in it.
However, if the so – called Peoples Vote takes place it is vital we ensure that this time it is a properly conducted referendum.
My view is that Brexit had no hope of working to the benefit of the nation. Inevitably it would lead to chaos and division. Furthermore it was a “solution” without a “problem”. The problems it was supposed to remedy had not been identified or properly defined first. No way to solve our problems. There were popular calls from certain politicians, such as the dubious “get back control”. Control for whom and for what purposes we may ask. Possibly to undo our high food standards and workers’ rights. Certainly there are many policies of the EU that need to be changed but that is not justify leaving. It requires vigorous action to bring about such changes.
The principle of subsidiarity applies to the European Union. Subsidiarity is a principle of social organization that holds that social and political issues should be dealt with at the most immediate level that is consistent with their resolution. The principle of subsidiarity , laid down in the Treaty on European Union, defines the circumstances in which it is preferable for action to be taken by the Union, rather than the Member States.
Underlying the Leave vote are fundamental issues that have not been adressed for at least two generations. These problems would best be addressed by regional government supported by Westminster. Partly, Leave was a protest against Westminster, a centralising government seen as out of touch with the regions. Furthermore different parts of the UK wanted different things. People in the London area, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland largely wanted to remain. Likewise different generations had different views. The young whose future was at stake, some of whom were not eligible to vote, predominantly wanted to remain. In such circumsatances, with such a tiny majority of those who voted, no referendum could possiblly create a happy solution.
There are also all kind of processes that could get us out of this mess. These include Citizens Assemblies and Constitutional Conventions. Currently what the public see in the House of Commons is out-moded, often abusive, adversarial debate rather than constructive dialogue in which people listen to eachother and arrive at consensus. The search needs to be for win;win slolutions in preference to compromises. For a rich source of ideas including these approaches go to the Constitution Unit at University College London and sign up for their newsletter.
The Long Revolution We need to see this period of chaos a part of what the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) calls The Long Revolution. We have thoroughly out-dated political system which has reached crisis point. Right now, at last, we may be at a historic turning point.
What can you do? Lobby your MP, use your vote and support the many campaigns for reform of our outdated democracy including proportional representation and a new written constitution.
Support campaigns for political reform: The Institute for Public for Public Policy Research, The Young People’s Party, For our Future’s Sake, Our Future Our Choice, UK Youth Parliament, Compass-The Progressive Alliance, Electoral Reform Society, Citizens Assembly Project, Unlock Democracy, Make Votes Matter, Counting Women In, 50:50 Parliament, Women’s Equality Party, Voice4 Change, People’s Vote and many more.
I shall be posting another blog when there are further developments and a way forward has been agreed.
Bruce Nixon is author of The 21st Century Revolution: A Call to Greatness . He gives talks on the situation we are in and what is to be done.
Bruce Nixon brucenixon.com