I am one of those people who loves a bit of change, if something is broken I really relish the challenge of fixing it or if change is imposed, then I do like the bit where you work out how to make it work. I get accused of being too much of an optimist and its true in that I try not to linger once a decision has been made, I much prefer to get on with stuff.
So in some respects, Brexit, no matter what form it takes, should be right up my street, and in many ways it is, but not for the externally facing issues as that is largely out of our hands, what I am looking forward to are the people issues and the challenges they will present. Because I don’t care what anyone says, there are no winners in Brexit, we are cutting some of the biggest divides in our society that has every existed and bringing that all back together is going to take a herculean effort. Its going to take leadership (and I can’t see where that comes from) but its going to involve everyone taking a really deep breath and evaluate our own grief and working out our plan for moving on.
Because regardless of what happens in Westminster, we as a population still see this in terms of winning and losing, of them and us. Teresa May will have her vote and the Parties will not be looking at the national interest, it has turned into the biggest political football ever.
The Tories are split and infighting. May can barely hold her cabinet together. She has a deal, the only deal on the table, yet no-one seems to be willing to compromise. The backstop is simply a useful issue, if it wasn’t that, then it would be something else. So they are playing a defensive position.
The only other real player in this is Labour. Before Conference we had a clear position – The 6 tests. If the deal met all (or most, if Starmer felt like there was some slack) of the tests, then we would not support it. After conference, we had an even clearer plan. We would push for a GE and then Peoples Vote if that failed. But the leadership had different ideas and pushed for the wrong vote of no-confidence. No matter what happens now, there will not be enough time to play the strategy. Now you can ague the if that was deliberate, or incompetent. The point is it doesn’t matter. There is no real opposition to Brexit, it’s a case of Deal or no deal.
(The real gutsy leadership position from anyone would be to withdraw article 50 and start again. Not popular, but its clear there was illegal campaigning, lies (on all sides) and the people did not have the facts in front of them when they voted. Everyone knows what “they” voted for, but everyone has a different definition.)
Brexit is coming!
So that takes it to the point of Brexit is (almost certainly) happening. How do we bring the nation back together? How do we yoke the strength of a nation? I think in terms of national crisis, it’s not going to be at the ports, or the aircraft terminals, but its going to be on the streets. People are still going to have families ripped apart, communities and groups are still going to be remainers and leavers.
So, moving on is the challenge, everyone is going to be bitter because the majority will not get what they voted for. How do we suture the wound? How to we become Best of British again?
What does a leader need to do?
The first thing would be do bring a comprehensive homes building programme. This would hit a number of high points, including Jobs, infrastructure and community. It would also allow a lot of trade training and development.
I would also look at the NHS and the integration of Health and Social Care. In particular, I would look at the Pharma industry and how to reduce the research impact of drug development. One of the reasons that drugs are so expensive is the research aspect, so we can use different development models to focus on drug development. A National Drug Development Agency. The crucial bit would be that the drug development would be a national asset.
I have already talked about how I consider a sensible nationalisation programme is necessary, but not just a wholesale “nationalise everything”. It has to be fit for purpose and we know it can be (look at East-coast rail). see this post from 2017 – https://www.barrykirby.co.uk/policy-baz-nationalisation-me/
Again, this not only looks at infrastructure, but jobs and education.
We do have the ability to have “wartime spirit” and “best of British”, but it needs to be inspired, to have purpose and a common vision. Inspire that and we are on a winner.
That’s just off the top of my head, but with my “glass half full” attitude, this could be a catalyst that a leader would grasp for Social Change for the better.