Last May, I remember staying up all night and watching the General Election results come through, right until the end. I never wanted to feel that way again - to feel that sense of foreboding, knowing that people were going to experience real pain as the consequence of a popular vote.
I suppose given what happened in the last two General Elections, this Leave result shouldn't have come as a surprise. Unfortunately, I do have the exact same feeling I had last May. I made the same mistake of placing my faith and optimism in the ability of people en masse to make decisions that would not run contrary to their material interests.
I don't like the EU - it is undemocratic, it is bloated. I have a natural and instinctive suspicion of supranational institutions that sit above the nation state and take power further away from ordinary people. But this also exists alongside an acceptance that these types of organisations are here to stay. and are probably necessary. It's just a question of scale.
From an anthropological view, as our social groups have evolved in size so to have the ways we organise - from kinship to pack, to tribe, to village, to city, to country, to nation state, to continent, to world. So given we can't reverse evolution, surely it is best to be part of these organisations to improve and enhance them?
The narrative being constructed to understand and rationalise this Leave victory is depicting an angry and alienated population rebelling against the political class and elites. As a matter of principle that is something I would endorse, because people do have reason to be angry and frustrated with their immediate circumstances - stagnant wages, living costs rising, and public services being starved. But none of these problems are going to be solved by leaving the EU. There is no promised land waiting for us at the end of the rainbow, outside of the EU a NeverNever Land where these problems will evaporate into thin air.
Immigration is not the cause of low wages, the failure to legislate and enforce a genuine Living Wage is the cause. Immigration is not the cause of anemic public services, it is the election by the people of this country, two times in a row, to elect a government that is ideologically opposed to funding public services as a matter of principle. It is not immigration or the EU that has forced our government to adopt a non-interventionist approach and let British industries go to the wall. All of these problems and their solutions are within the control of a national government if it was willing to do what was necessary to help people and put pragmatism above ideology.
The economic consequences of this are going to be very real, far removed from the abstract visions of a Leave campaign which has promised voters a purer, more democratic and freer Britain. The hard reality is that people are going to lose their jobs and their livelihoods. Our bargaining position in the world is going to be severely weakened - we aren't an imperial power anymore. We haven't been for decades. China and India are tow huge economies that operate on very different principles morally and ideologically and will hold very little influence in those relationships.
The only positive I can draw from this is that Jeremy Corbyn cannot possibly survive as leader of the Labour Party. It was Labour voters that lost this referendum. Corbyn's leadership and ability, even willingness, to convey his message were non-existent. He woefully failed to connect with voters in the traditional Labour heartlands who rejected his leadership emphatically, opting for Leave perhaps in their millions.
And out of this turmoil then just maybe there will be an opportunity for the Labour Party to go into an early General Election equipped with a leader than can not only connect with those traditional Labour voters that are fundamental to winning a popular vote. And Labour can go back to being a party that can find itself in the position to effect social justice and make it a reality, not just a dream.Suggest a correction