Notes from Catherine Rowett, former Green Party MEP for East of England and deputy coordinator of the Eastern Region Green Party*(UK). Biographical reflections on life as an MEP. Longer reflections and discussions on issues relating to policy, the good life, justice, equality, anti-austerity economics and the future of the planet. This is also a forum for exchanging ideas on how to tread lightly on the planet and avoid supporting exploitation and corrupt practices. Here we go...

Saturday, 25 June 2016

What to do next?

A friend wrote to me to ask what on earth we could do now, because never in our lives have we been faced with such grief and despair. The UK we thought we belonged to has done something absolutely terrifying and people are terrified and distressed. Once we come through the despair, what can we actually do to change the future to something we could hope for and feel was an achievement.

Here are my first thoughts in response:

The people I mix with are mostly absolutely devastated and there have been many tears. It’s clearly a disaster for the economy already, but my impression is that there is a long way to go before any politician is actually going to be willing to enact the decision in practice. I think that the electorate have begun to wake up to what was a big mistake, and that before long it will be okay for the leaders of all parties to say "actually we don’t want to vote this through in parliament".

We are only on day 2, and these things are pretty unclear as yet. But it appears that Boris Johnson is not in favour of leaving, and was just doing it all as a stunt. A third of the population didn’t vote because they didn’t realise it mattered. A quarter of the population thought it was okay to cast a protest vote to save the NHS from the Tories. If we ran it again tomorrow we’d get a remain vote. I’m not in favour of running it again because it was a silly idea to run it in the first place, but it seems clear that there would be some relief all round if the politicians decided that it was not a strong enough mandate or that it was based on misinformation.

What to do if not? Well it rather depends how successfully the Labour Party repeat their self-harming behaviour and destroy what credibility they have left. I suspect we need to create a new “pro EU party” running on a ticket about xenophilia and socialism and environmentalism and human rights . I don’t think the Green Party can rise to the challenge but I shall see how it does over the next few weeks and at its September conference. I plan to go to the Green Party Conference.

If we do leave we need to see what the advantages and disadvantages are of what is arranged. I think the tears may be overhasty. Almost all the scenarios for going forward are pretty good. It’s highly unlikely we’ll be closing our borders unless I’m much mistaken, or removing ourselves from Horizon 2020 research funding or from the workers protections. As regards the horrible racism that has surfaced in the campaign, we need to campaign for the end to austerity which is driving people to look for someone to blame. But this was so before, and the problem is of our own (UK policy) making, egged on by the nonsensical desire of the whole EU to self-immolate on the worship of austerity politics. Maybe it is right to blame some of that on the EU which has ruined Greece with the absurd ideology that imagines that you climb out of a recession by way of cuts. Terrible stuff.

I think that writing to our various MPs to ask them to reconsider, and to group together, across parties, to argue for rejecting the vote and questioning its legitimacy due to the falsities in the Leave campaign might be the best option now. All the main parties share an interest in achieving this? It would be a magnificent move if they could come together and agree this. 

What do you think?

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