We are where we are - thought for New Year 2020
This is the dawning of a new decade. A new era. A lot of people are depressed and pessimistic about the future. They feel we are in the hands of lunatics. Whatever my own view, I have to say that telling everyone that the huge majority of Brits who voted for the Conservatives are evil amounts to bigotry at least as insulting as anything conjured up by the far right.
Let’s think about some facts.
In 2016 the Brexit vote went down to the wire 52 to 48.
That doesn’t correlate to the 80 seat landslide in the election. And don’t forget, Labour did not canvas on a Remain ticket but on a neutral ticket.
And the Tories only had one policy. It was about ‘let’s get Brexit done’.
How ever you read it, a large number of 2016 Remain voters voted for this. It made sense. If you are a pragmatist not an idealist you look at the torpor and stasis of UK domestic politics in the last 3 years and you say ‘let’s get past this’.
Forget the accusations of lying by the left against the right, anti-semitism rhetoric by the right against the left. Forget the anti-austerity stats put out by the left and the anti Stalinist rhetoric of the right. It was simply ‘let’s get Brexit done’.
Now everyone is wondering what will happen when it doesn’t actually get done – which it won’t, well, not quickly. It’s simply too complex. That’s a fact not an opinion.
But it won’t matter. An 80 seat majority is the biggest since the Thatcher landslide. It’s insurmountable. It doesn’t matter who replaces JC, not this time around. Absolutely no-one at all will change uk politics in the next ten years. No one.
So should we all be terrified? No not really.
Once you get right down to it, politicians do most of the real work in committees, which are cross party bodies making reasoned pragmatic decisions. Our parliamentary system is fundamentally made up of cross-checks and revisions which do not allow continuous extremist anti-social or dictatorship policy making to gain traction. Yes, policies some of us don’t like or agree with but not catastrophe and not Putinism.
Some things will happen over the next ten years which a lot of people will be very sad about. Scotland and Northern Ireland will almost inevitably leave the UK, leaving England and Wales.
Prices will rise for a while for sure as tariffs are introduced in England. The rest of Europe will make an effort to make leaving painful, if only to attempt to dissuade others from following on. But others will follow. At least another 4 nations will decide to assert their independence and follow Britain out of Europe.. Why? Because we are a resourceful, wealthy and innovative nation who will get over the hump and do OK. You will not see tumbleweed blowing across deserted urban landscapes and bread queues outside council offices. So other European nations already teetering on the brink will look across the channel and say ‘well, it doesn’t look so bad does it?’ [Scotland and my own Northern Ireland will probably have it worse for quite a while, because there isn’t much common sense at work with that particular brand of nationalism.]
No one with an ounce of common sense, let alone ambition, should accept the Labour leadership mantle this time around. It will destroy you.
I have been mentoring major business leaders on and off for fifteen years and ironically I’ve learned more from them than I ever taught them. In 2007, I was asked by the chairman of a huge UK PLC to help choose a new CEO. I immediately knew just the person. I made the usual Le Carre-style approach over bad coffee in a dingy café on the Ballspond Road. “not this time around thanks” was the immediate response. Within 18 months, the PLC was gobbled up by a venture capitalist. He made a complete cock up of it and the whole business was dismantled, broken up and sold off, with the incumbent CEO copping all the flack.
Ten years later when Labour were struggling with the leadership conundrum, a similar on the QT approach was made to David Milliband, suggesting he re-appear like a knight in shining armour to ride back in, untainted by the brother’s failings and Momentum. “not this time thanks” was the reply. That will be the reply this time as well. There will be an election in five years time and Labour will be defeated again.
There will still be great people out there saving lives, making great music, starting great businesses. People younger than me will continue to push, effectively, for better representation for disabled, people of colour, the dispossessed and for women. Young people will continue to care more about the future of our planet, be more enlightened, more compassionate and less greedy.
But for now, we are where we are.
Happy new decade everyone. Let’s be cheerful.