A beautiful but cold evening here in London tonight. I’ve spent the day at home, not travelling far in any direction but still overachieving my daily step count goal. There were local elections across the U.K. this week. Boris Johnson, a London based politician whose acquaintance with truth is fairly loose, tweeted that he had been out to use his vote. Only when it was pointed out to him that there were no elections in London for him to vote in, did he take that tweet down. There was surprisingly little coverage of this. BoJo, like Farage, gets an astonishingly easy ride in the media. Or maybe it’s just that we are so used to BoJo’s pants being on fire* we don’t think of it as news anymore.
When the results came through it was clear that the Tories were massive losers, over a thousand council seats down. Labour lost around about a hundred, but all the news I listened to kept repeating that both main parties had suffered great losses. I’m not saying Labour did well, their losses compared to the Tories were in a different scale.
The parties who made great gains were the Lib Dems and the Greens, both support remaining in the EU. However, both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn interpreted the results as a call from the country to ‘get on’ with Brexit. Theresa May said it was a clear message. Really? There are any number of ways you can interpret the results, but it seems our politicians are still as keen to project their own thoughts onto the voters as ever, like those MPs who claim they know what their constituents wanted when they voted Leave, as though they had visited each one and had a good chat with them. Nonsense.
Local elections are about local issues – recycling, lighting, library services, street cleaning. If people were voting to express how they feel about Brexit, it would seem that most people want to remain in the EU. Being pig headed is not the same as being strong.
The ‘get on with it’ interpretation is worrying because it makes it sound so simple, like finishing painting the spare bedroom. Even if/when a deal is agreed, there will be years, decades of impact before there is any hint of the sunny uplands Leave voters were promised. Unless of course you think that dismantling the NHS and handing our health care into the hands of private, profit driven companies is a positive, or the poorest getting poorer, food standards being lowered so we can make deals with countries less stringent than the EU.
So much time, money, energy has gone into this fiasco so far. Surely after nearly three years most people, even politicians, can see it’s a disaster. Wouldn’t it just be better to recognise it was all a mistake, to learn the lesson, and stop making the hole we’re in even bigger? We could revoke Article 50 and start to deal with the important issues of poverty, saving the NHS and the planet, addressing homelessness, hopelessness, the issues that largely lead a frustrated and disenfranchised section of electorate to vote Leave in the first place.
*cockney rhyming slang: liar = pants on fire