The EU referendum result was a disaster for the UK. Others have written about the huge uncertainties and dangers which lie ahead. The Conservatives' problems are well known, but for Labour the situation is if anything more critical. It is crystal clear that neither the old solutions of "New" Labour nor the fundamentalism of Momentum and the Corbynites hold the answer. We need a fresh start and fresh legs in a completely reshaped Labour Party if we are to survive as a political force, but I think we can find a new way forward for Britain if we reach out across the old political spectrum, reconnect with our core values, and tether ourselves to the hopes and fairness of the British people.
We hold these things to be true: all people are equal. The choices we all make and the hopes we hold for ourselves, our families and our country are very largely realistic, worthy and laudable. Some of us mourn the leaving of the EU, because we envisaged a future for ourselves surfing the waves of globalisation, taking chances never dreamed of by previous generations, welcoming technological revolution and tackling global problems like climate change and migration head on. For this group of us a technocratic government, legislating for individual freedom within a framework of rights, and letting the forces of global capital work freely to support both personal and economic growth, has worked just fine, though many of us have championed measures to recompense losers in such a race. I call this group the #IndecentMinority as in the UK we are the 48% who voted to Remain (thanks to Jo Rowling for that phrase). In the world we constitute a minority too - but a large and powerful one.
The second group, the #ToughTimesMajority (of 52% in the UK and many millions worldwide), includes very many of us who are rightly fearful of global pressures, and often with personal good cause because it puts our chosen dreams at risk, shatters security in work and financially, breaks communities, limits freedom, and exposes us to cold economic futures. For decades now politicians of all sides, both national and international, have told those of us in this group to hop on the global train, but for the many who are not willing or able to do that it is an unwelcome message. Why should we? And when we see school budgets fall and class sizes rise with a curriculum that serves neither those keen to surf the globe nor those who want to build careers and families closer to home, when we see healthcare rationed and downgraded and workers pressed to the limit, when we see our communities weakened and local elected councils unable to cope, when our secure careers in proud industries are replaced by zero-hours contract jobs, when we hear our parochial but beloved traditions traduced by others who value global above local, we feel belittled, unheard, and left behind.
The referendum has accentuated these two rather different dreams but one ambition: a brighter future in a fresh new fairer Britain. Both Remainers and Leavers want that. I think a substantial majority of both also want to rescue from this mess what is best about Britain, embodied by the too short career of MP Jo Cox, who appealed famously, from her vantage straddling both the Indecent Minority as a Cambridge graduate and MP, and the Tough Times Majority from whom she sprung and who she represented so assiduously, "We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than that which divides us".
In the past I have been, like most Labour people, a loyal but critical campaigner for Jeremy Corbyn and those around him. I have also been critical but loyal as a councillor, candidate, policy forum member and campaigner to Neil Kinnock, John Smith, Margaret Beckett, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Harriet Harman and Ed Miliband. For goodness' sake, I had Harold Wilson leaflets on my belly in the pram, and his signed photo by my bed as a teenager! I do not think it is disloyal now to recognise that the scene has changed forever, and that our politics will change with it. It is time for a new political force to rise from the ashes of the old Labour Party, and reach back into our country's history and forward to a new future.
By offering a broad vision of a country that offers people a chance to find a brighter future in a fresh new fairer Britain, with a new set of leaders making an explicit appeal to others who share this ideal, from all parties and none, with no set ideology but trust in every one of us to play our part, we can start to build a new force for government that can focus exclusively on helping us all find security, fairness and to use our talents for the common good and to explore our own limits.
It is time for a fresh start with fresh legs. Building a Good Britain might just bring us together and it will certainly be exciting!Suggest a correction