Battle of Ideas conference 2016
22 October 2016 | the Barbican
Many were shocked by the outcome of Britain’s EU referendum. Remain voters said they no longer recognised their country. Leave voters retorted that now metropolitan liberals knew how the rest of the country has been feeling for years. Is Britain split down the middle? Are there now North-South, old-young, metropolitan-rural, educated-uneducated divides that can’t be surmounted?
Filmed at the Battle of Ideas, the speakers are Richard Angell, director of Progress; Dr Munira Mirza, advisor on arts and philanthropy, Leave campaigner; Max Wind-Cowie, deputy director of ResPublica; David Lammy MP, Labour MP for Tottenham; Mick Hume, editor-at-large, spiked. The chair is Alan Miller, chairman, Night Time Industries Association (NTIA).
Nicola Sturgeon believes that preparing the legislation for a second referendum on Scottish independence might be a way of calling Theresa May’s bluff on Brexit and Scotland’s place in the single market. If she tries, the bluff-calling might just be on the other foot.
In her Today programme interview this morning Sturgeon did her best braveheart routine, but the language was noticeably different. She talked about taking ‘control’ and questioned whether the future of the United Kingdom was the constant and status quo that it represented in 2014. Straight out of the Vote Leave script the civic nationalist checked off all the boxes in the English nationalist playbook. Chief Brexiteer Matthew Elliott has since the 23 June poll explained how Vote Leave had to make continuing in the European Union as risking as leaving. It worked. Brexit offers the same possibility for her second referendum – so Sturgeon hopes. (more…)
They said it couldn’t be done, that moderate Labour supporters could never be persuaded to pay £25 for a vote in the leadership election. But this week, from a standing start, Saving Labour – and all those who fell in behind – galvanised the moderate wing of the Labour party and recruited a historic number of Labour voters to the party fold. 183,000 people used the party’s fledgling Registered Supporters scheme to get a vote in the forthcoming leadership election. Reports suggest that between 34 and 40 per cent are those wanting a credible opposition. More than anyone could have hoped for if the number got into six figures. And that was well before reports of 40,000 duplications – much more likely to be Jeremy Corbyn voters – were deducted from that number. (more…)
Jeremy Corbyn took the opportunity to visit the European Union at the height of the referendum on Labour’s continued membership of the world’s most successful peace project. Not to make a speech, speak truth to power in Brussels – but to holiday. Portugal saw more of Corbyn than whole regions of England did. The Labour leader didn’t visit the north-east once, where the EU is vital to the economy.
The people’s decision to leave the European Union has sent an earthquake through the political class. All major parties have been shaken. Brexit has been as hard on the Labour party as it has on the pound, at its lowest level since some point in the early to mid 1980s. The danger for Labour is that how many voters in its heartlands felt on one day in June 2016 defines how they behave and vote for a decade to come.
If Scotland is a guide, moving to a post-referendum politics – where whether you voted ‘Leave’ or ‘Remain’ defines how you vote – will take some time. It will not, as in Scotland, be a resurgent Tory party that will come for our heartlands but their rightwing cousins in the United Kingdom Independence Party. (more…)
It all feels very personal. It is not that I cannot believe it or that I hate my fellow country-folk. But I do worry about what our country is becoming. Leaving the European Union is a body blow to Britain, as we are seeing in the markets. I respect the decision but think it was a very wrong one for everyone.
On the tube this morning a group of friends were talking about Brexit, Boris and Trump in the same worrying breath. A mixed race guy told his friend that he ‘felt like an illegal immigrant in his own country’. The first cross word I have ever had with my grandma was over this divisive referendum and Facebook seems full of families arguing about who took what side. There is an unrest in the air that this decision is fuelling not quelling. (more…)