BREXIT UNCUT (10 mins) is a revealing bit of filming (unedited) I did of altercations between Leavers and Remainers at the People’s Vote demo last Saturday October 19th. During the heated but also civil exchanges there’s an intervention half way through by a woman Remainer who finds common ground with a woman Leaver – both blame politicians and Parliament for ‘shafting us all’.
Behind this sentiment I believe lies a deep but improperly focussed disillusionment and anger with the corruption of our democracy and our civil institutions by Big Money and Big Business over the last 40 years of dominance by the free marketeers.
Its festering was muted as long as the privateers could deliver on their promises of endless, debt-fuelled prosperity. Big bucks party donors seeking political favours, ‘cash for questions’ paid to MPs to raise questions in Parliament, the revolving door between the House of Commons and well-paid City jobs, the malignant influence of McKinsey and other big corporate and financial lobbyists in the corridors of Westminster and Whitehall, and the prevalence of private sector interests in our public institutions like the NHS and the BBC remained the bad-smelling but shrugged-off gas from the belly of the hyper-capitalist beast.
The 2008 Banking Crash and its puncturing of the free-market zeppelin, the imposition of austerity and the grabbing of public assets by the financial and corporate power centres not just here but in EU and other countries pulled the rug from under this status quo. Resentment and anger replaced the knowing shrug.
Instead of channelling that anger towards the Big Money/Big Business perpetrators of all this New Labour oldie Peter Mandelson’s party posse reined in the Ed Miliband leadership from committing to the progressive policies that could have placated it (I have this from a good source). Labour lost an Election they should have won in 2015 and popular ire turned on the EU authorities and, as usual, immigrants for satisfaction.
The mainstream media, for whom competing for market share in a social media dominated landscape has produced increasing ‘economies’ in investigative and inquisitorial standards in favour of crowd-grabbing, click-bait journalism, added fuel to the fire.
Back in post-1929 Crash Germany representatives of the ‘soft middle’ – social democrats, liberals, MOR socialists – failed to direct similar popular anger towards the Big Money/Big Business axis behind their economic ills, leaving the way open for Hitler and the far Right to exploit it and find easily blameable targets.
Trump and the alt-Right, Le Pen and the gilets jaunes, Johnson/Farage and the Brexiteers and other populist manifestations we are seeing around the world are the result of similar failings by our ‘soft middle’ representatives since the 2008 Crash.
If in the 2015 Election New Labour had advanced the kind of progressive policies of the present Party they’d have walked it. And we’d have had no referendum, no Brexit and far less susceptibility to the sirens of the Right than has since been evidenced. At the Saturday demo I got a whiff of this and it was disturbing.
But there is an upside to the Brexit debacle. It has made the loss of democracy and its recovery a live issue, as my film clip suggests. And in the Remain movement there are stirrings of the ‘soft middle’ which are vitally needed to ward of 1930s spectres.
A Labour Party manifesto that highlights the corruption of our democracy and civil institutions and commits to their rescue from the grasp of Big Money and Big Business would find support across a swathe of voters, including Leavers and Remainers.
As would a commitment by the Party to full NHS renationalisation given that the NHS is a key Election issue with proven appeal to the ‘soft middle’ including many socially-minded Tories. Labour’s lack of clarity on this remains troubling.
Despite these present shortcomings and the Stygian polls I’m not giving up on my small punts with Paddy Power and William Hill: 14-1 on a 2nd Referendum with a 60%+ Remain victory and 12-1 on a Labour Election majority. My mouth is where my money is!