Friday, 15 June 2018

My view on the sorry mess we are in - published in the Times on Line

'Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.'  - Winston Churchill (1949).  The problem that the Brexit debate raises is this: what do we do when democracy manifestly fails, to the detriment of the whole country and its interests?   The Referendum and what has followed is a sign that we are in the end game of the form of confrontational, two party system we have in the UK and the US.  Two political sides polarise debate and with modern media and its rhetorical influence the two sides lead to a 50:50 split nationally: conservative, socialist; democrat, republican; remainer versus leaver.  Neither side wins but we end up in an endless cycle of we win then we lose, we lose then we win.   

The problem the Referendum has created is that one side feels emboldened to say 'we won', 'that's it', 'put up and shut up'.  There is no way the other 50% can hope or expect to put Humpty together again.  Neither the Referendum nor our political system has within it a mechanism by which national consensus can be achieved.  The Government cannot achieve consensus, not just because of its manifest inability to lead, but because our democracy does not have within it the institutional structures necessary for consensus to emerge.

Must we as a nation face up to the economic and social chaos of Brexit or is there a way back?  Only the most dogmatic leavers believe that Brexit will result in anything but cost, hardship and turmoil for a generation.  Will another Referendum or a General Election solve our problem - maybe, but the risk is that we are back with another 50:50 split.  In my view, if we cannot achieve a reasonable resolution with our European neighbours by October we must seek to revoke Article 50 with a commitment to remain in membership of the EU for (say) 10 years whilst we put our own house in order.

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