Post-EURef and thoughts/observations on all things Remain

Summary

So…who in the institutions that make up the European Union resigned over the Brexit result in the EU Ref? And how will affect elections in and around Cambridge?

Did anyone?

Just before the referendum I published a short vlogpost in favour of remaining inside the EU – in order to overhaul it. Oh – and I frown a lot in this one!

As things stand, my general take on where we are now is:

  • You Brexit, you fixit
  • I don’t have enough spoons to go full on-campaigning on EU politics, but I’ll film stuff happening locally
  • The unleashing of hate across society concerns me greatly

“What do those that want to block leaving the EU want?”

…other than keeping the UK in the EU that is. Because they are out there. Alistair Campbell and Prof AC Grayling are two of the most high profile.

For example, would it be ‘business as usual’? If not, what in their view would change?

Politics becoming more interesting?

Because of the uncertainty in national and international politics, in one sense it has become more interesting because the institutions are all now out of flux. The cluelessness of ministers, and the woeful nature of Labour’s communications operation in one sense has created a bit of a vacuum that is both an opportunity (for someone to fill it) and a threat (someone nasty fills it).

We’ve also seen UKIP losing Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless – though whether the Tories take them back remains to be seen.

Where now for Remain?

I’ve lost count of the number of people complaining about Labour HQ’s stance on the result of the EU referendum. For all of the pro-EU rhetoric from a number of high-profile backbenchers, the poisonous relationships between then and Corbyn’s communications team means that this is not following through into the broadcast media headlines. The hostile relationship between Labour HQ’s communications team and the broadcast media means that their messages are not getting through nearly as consistently as they should be.

The Liberal Democrats have understandably tried to take full advantage of this split in Labour – between the pro-EU cosmopolitans and the EU-sceptic working class constituencies in the urban north. But it’s not just there. In pro-remain Tory constituencies such as South Cambridgeshire, they have noticeably increased their activities. Locally here it’ll be interesting to see how many seats the Lib Dems take off the Conservatives (and vice versa) in the south of the county, and also how many the Tories take of UKIP in the northern fringes too. (UKIP rose from 2 to 12 councillors in the 2013 elections in Cambridgeshire). I certainly don’t expect UKIP to be a pushover for the Tories – some of the UKIP councillors have established a reputation of competent councillors and activists compared to some of their Conservative opponents.

Finally, there’s all this talk of ‘the best deal’ or a deal that keeps as close a relationship as possible with the EU. Whoever it has come from, I’m not nearly as clear as I’d like to be as to what this means. Just as the Government doesn’t have a clear starting position, I’m a little surprised that the Lib Dems didn’t produce their own policy paper setting out what they think the Government’s starting position should be. (If they have, I’ve missed it).

The local impact.

We also have mayoral, and local elections coming up on 04 May across England where there are district and county councils. Cambridge being such an area on the latter has elections to Cambridgeshire County Council. We are also in full hustings mode for the mayoral elections – a policy I still disagree with and think was a political stitch up. My long held view is that Cambridge needs a unitary authority – a single council for the city and the wards that immediately surrounding it. Why ministers won’t agree to it…you’ll have to ask them.

Irrespective of my views, there are still elections for the mayoralty of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Therefore, ignore me and watch the videos of the candidates:

I’m also filming free introduction videos for candidates standing in and around Cambridge for the county council elections, also on 04 May. The playlist is here.

The first elections after the EU Referendum

My general prediction is we’ll see just how split England is over Brexit. Will pro-leave voters switch en masse to the Tories now that they are effectively delivering UKIP’s headline policy on leaving the EU? Given the hostile relationships between UKIP and Conservative councillors on Cambridgeshire County Council over the past four years, I’m not expecting things to be nearly as simple as that.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have had a similar hostile relationship on Cambridgeshire County Council – though I note that with all parties combined, just under a third of councillors are retiring. The new county council makeup surely will have a very different feel to it – especially if we get a younger, newer fresher generation of county councillors.

 

I’ve taken the view that the EU referendum vote was a symptom of a whole host of much deeper problems in our economy and society. Given my limited capacity (health) I took it upon myself to focus on local grassroots activities rather than national or international projects and campaigns. I have neither the resources, the health nor the close friendships to sustain anything far beyond the borders of my home town.

Locally in Cambridge, the role I seem to be taking is one of ‘social bumble bee’ – like a social butterfly but more stressed and less pretty. Very active, buzzing from group to group and linking them up, but easily squished (emotionally) when things go wrong. I’m also linking people to groups who are already active in their interested areas. Rather than trying to start something new or doing everything myself as perhaps in the past, I’m reconciled to the idea of not needing (or wanting) to be involved in everything – rather just maintaining a distant staying-aware-and-updated brief.

In and around Cambridge we’ll see a number of people standing for election for the first time who got involved in local democracy as a result of the EU referendum.

 

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