Reasons to be cheerful

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There are none.  This is the omnishambles of all omnishambles, as Malcolm Tucker would say. The Brexit result had my teenage daughter wailing “They’ve F*cked my Future” over her breakfast, and my so  is scurrying around trying to establish whether my wife’s Irish forebears entitle him to  a passport.

It’s dismal alright. And it’s unknown.  And it seems no good can come of it.  The demographics are striking – a grand coalition of the old, less well educated, less well off has delivered a momentous result.  Whoever thought it was a good idea not to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote (Clue:  it was the man who has just announced his resignation).

But in all the fog, upset and bitterness we have to have hope. We are entitled to search for some solace. Here’s where I think it can be found:

First, this is going to be a long process, with multiple chances to intervene and mollify the eventual outcome.

Second, the Conservatives are split – irreparably in my view. Even their hard-wired instinct for power will not be enough to paper over the cracks.  Given part of the divide is over style and attitude; there are opportunities for some new alliances and to push the case for an alternative government.

Third, this seismic political shock should act as a catharsis over some issues the left has grappled with for years.  The practical as well as ethical argument for votes at 16 is surely made. Our current campaign tools seem to have proved ineffective – again. So we need to examine how we communicate.

And we need to recognise that the UK is fractured even more than the Conservative Party, and have a response to that.

In my view  this response  needs to  be  a federal UK –  well actually more a federal England given  I expect  Scotland  be  independent in 5 years and back in the EU  in 10,  and  Wales and Northern Ireland already have devolved assemblies. My blueprint for a post referendum settlement is here.

Fourth, we have to re-orientate our political thinking to a more UK-centric view.  We can see what will come in terms of a “Brexit” recession and budget.  We need to build and sustain the narrative now on an alternative, inclusive tax and investment policy as opposed to the default of more cuts signalled by George Osborne days before the vote.  We need to turn attention to the realities of trade with the rest of Europe from outside the EU.  

Fifth and probably most importantly, irrespective of the misplaced anger a majority of voters seemed to direct against the EU, we must remember the words and deeds of Jo Cox.  “We have more in common than that which divides us”.  There is much we cannot change, but   we do have control over our thoughts and actions.  This is a time for emphasising our common humanity.

I am sure that many voted Leave with honourable intentions.  But the campaign   was hijacked by the nasty brigade who played the oldest trick in the political book – “you’ve got problems and they are all the fault of people who are not like you.”

So we pick ourselves up, we dust ourselves down.  We make sense of the new reality as best we can.  And we stick to our values and redouble our efforts. There has never been a more important time for decency, determination and hope, and these are all things we can deliver, irrespective of the Brexit vote. “You got to have hope” is a good maxim.
Simon Sapper is assistant secretary of CWU but writes in a personal capacity

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