Sunday, 28 February 2016

The Leave campaign is bad - but what can Remain offer?

I have lambasted the so-called mainstream media for it's weak and shallow approach to this referendum. Surprising then that we should see something measured, insightful and mature from the Observer. I'm not going to agree with all of the calculations or haggle over the details because it has adequately summed up the situation in spirit.

It describes an increasingly bewildering society where ever more are short-changed by inequality of opportunity and injustice, and more acutely, a stagnating political establishment with no real ideas on how to address it. The Observer concludes that:
Project Fear may well be the right strategy for the Remain campaign to secure victory, but it does not answer the question of how mainstream politicians can speak to those disaffected voters who helped trigger this referendum. How do you help people cope with the unequal impacts of globalisation, demographic change and technological progress? How can people begin to trust again in a market economy that seems, in places, to be rigged by ever larger global firms that have an uncanny ability to reduce their tax liabilities; how can they feel confident again in a form of late capitalism where benefits seem to accrue unevenly to a smaller and smaller number of people?

Neither side has found ways of addressing these concerns. The referendum, irrespective of whether it is a vote to Leave or Remain, is not going to make this issue go away.
And how right they are. Prior to their conclusion they venture that neither side of the referendum campaign has put forth a vision that speaks to any real concern driving this long standing argument - especially so the Leave campaign, which is something this blog has said from the outset. It has no plan and no vision and will likely lose. The problem is, as the Observer notes, if we lose the referendum, there are no clear winners.

Should we lose, the Remain camp will celebrate - they will have their time in the spotlight, but when the referendum noise dies down we will be exactly where we were when hopes of a referendum were only distant ambitions. We will have come full circle - with nothing gained or resolved.

Only this time I see the resentment and protest being ever more fierce. Not satisfied with having put down a political insurgency, the establishment will see fit to crow and gloat about it, rubbing the faces of ordinary people in their loss. I cannot see how this won't have disturbing consequences and massive political "uncertainty".

As much as Brexit brings no particular resolution to immigration issues, the status quo most certainly doesn't, nor does it do anything to lift us out of our economic quagmire or address the democratic imbalance.

In this, we have been told that the EU is our lifeboat for jobs, security and prosperity, but who is actually buying that? I'm not. Push all the digital single market propaganda at me you like but I don't recognise it as something that speaks to my world.

Tell a young man on minimum wage in Wiltshire that he now has the right to watch Netflix anywhere in Europe on his iPhone and he'll laugh. Whatever the eurocrats think, flying around Europe is still a luxury for the well off. Flights to the continent plus accommodation is still the better part of a months wage. The era of "cheap flights" never existed for many ordinary people.

Nothing we're hearing from either camp speaks to the obscene rent costs we experience, nor are we seeing any real moves to get people into affordable housing. For many, home ownership is a pipedream. Certainly not without sacrificing the few things that bring pleasure.

Moreover, we see nothing that tackles the imbalance of injustice whereby corporates can treat people any way they choose with no legal redress, upheld by the courts in a system where justice is only available to those who can afford it. One where police mainly serve to suppress dissent rather than serve the public.

It is the view of this blog that we need a whole new paradigm in government, and a major overhaul of our creaking, stinking politics. In this, it would require some radicalism and political courage that simply isn't present in our current politics. For some Corbyn was the great white hope, but in the end retreated to the margins to become just another pro-EU cardboard cut-out who will challenge no orthodoxies and accomplish nothing. We need a revolution.

Unlucky for us though, things aren't quite bad enough to spark a political insurgency of any kind. People just don't care enough. So we are condemned to a depressing stagnation, and a gradual retreat from democracy - to become mere economic units in a system of benign managerialism. To me it feels like the end of opportunity, the end of ambition and the end of hope.

That is why Brexit is so very important - if only as a symbol that we are departing from the status quo. That's why it is so important to win.

They tell us that certainty is sacrosanct. The slogan of Stronger In is "don't risk it". Don't risk what exactly? You mean I could lose my opportunity to be a passenger in my own country without any connection to the politics that run it all? To be tossed around without a stake in the society I live in? Is that all they can offer me? Meh.

Instead of that, Brexit could be the revolution we need. It could be the start of a new road - something big, something major, something challenging, something exciting and most definitely something NOT boring.

But since, as the entire ideas-free establishment will skew the vote to get the result it wants, we will not get that revolution. We will instead simply fade into a bland euro-morass. Nothing to achieve, nothing to celebrate, nothing to take pride in. A slow road to political oblivion. Eventually, I can see that dynamic sparking a political revolution. One a lot more risky than ending up like Norway - who would still overwhelmingly reject EU membership, by the way. This is why we should leave. It's probably our last chance to do it the right way.

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