Last night I had genuinely not expected to wake up to a Britain in the first stages of national independence - and nor did many others. Many leading Leave activists were predicting a Leave vote of 40-45%. Although I was not so negative, I thought Remain would push us down to 47-48%, respectable but, as Harry Oppenheimer once said, '51% is control'.
On the Left, my friend on the Morning Star editorial
team was getting angry at what he thought were lost
opportunities and the capture of the debate over 'free movement of
labour' by the Right. Later that evening on the
BBC, it was heartening to see John McDonnell at least
try to address this concern where no Kinnockite or Blairite would - perhaps there is hope for the Labour Party after all.
I dropped in on the Leave.EU Post-Referendum Party and nearly the
first person I saw was a chipper Arron Banks who told me that private
polling of 10,000 people had predicted a 52:48 vote in favour of Leave
and that the swing would be produced by an angry industrial or
post-industrial Northern working class but that London and Scotland
would counter that somewhat. He turned out to be right.
I kept an open
mind but no one else I spoke to at the event (I left early to 'be with
my family' at what might have been the political equivalent of armageddon)
took the poll seriously. This is how gloomy Leave had become after the
onslaught of the entire Liberal Establishment, the manipulations of
Project Fear, the viciousness of the Labour-driven Project Slander and
the calculated sentiment of Project Vigil.
And then I awoke (my
family remained for the duration) to victory and to the prospect of
sunshine, a day off and a visit to the cinema to see the afternoon
performance of 'Independence Day: Resurgence'. What had originally been
an ironic consolation will now be an unalloyed pleasure regardless of
the quality of the film. Suddenly all the planning for the
consequences of defeat was no longer required. There was only one task
ahead - to 'defend the revolution' by any means necessary.
had behaved so appallingly in the last ten days of the Campaign and
still appears not to get (at least on its Left) why it had lost, we
Leavers must act without any weakness of will or false attempt at a
reconciliation with people who have bullied and lied but, above all,
shown utter cavalier lack of respect for the independent
decision-making powers of the British people. The people who had been
ignored and treated with disrespect had fought back. If Labour does not
learn its lesson (and it shows every sign of being incapable of doing
so) what happened in Scotland will happen to in the North of England.
There is no reason to explore the reasons why Remain lost (because, let
us be clear, Leave only won because Remain lost) but only to note that
the alienation of the Leave Left started and ended with an atmosphere of
bullying and disrespect that was evident as early as April. Left
Leavers will not be easily cowed now. But there is something more
disturbing to note - Leave managed to tip itself over the edge because
of the organisational drive and activist dynamism of UKIP.
is just a fact on the ground. The irresponsible abandonment of the
Northern post-industrial working class by the Labour Party (John Mann
was visibly angry about this on the BBC last night very early in the
game) had handed it over not to wet liberal middle class patronising
bastards in the centre but to national populists. National populists are
democrats but they can and will ally with similar forces across Europe
who are speaking for the abandoned classes of Europe
while the middle classes enrich themselves on globalisation. And these
democratic forces are not socialist or liberal, some may not even be democratic.
That is the real
change to consider - the utter failure of the Radical Centre, whether
Kinnockite, Blairite, Liberal Democrat (long since busted) or
Cameronian to share power with the mass, bring prosperity, share
difficulties fairly and evenly but, above all, not to disrepect a
working class they clearly despise openly and sometimes humiliate. The
failure of the Left has been the opportunity for the Right. Remain's debacle is down to the soft and liberal left, not the
Right which is only learning to be politically effective year by year
because the Left is run by fools.
The revolution (so to speak)
is not the independence of Britain (which is simply a restoration of the
right order of things and an opportunity to make change happen) but the
potential for the overturning of a failed and arrogant elite. This elite presumed to
speak for the people despite the dodginess of its hold over democratic
procedures. Even now prominent Centrists regret the very fact of a referendum because
it came up with the 'wrong result'. Now that is arrogance!
Democracy is an absolute
value and yet the democrats are now on the Right. This should worry everyone
who claims to liberal or socialist values. It is the 'real' Left that
has to organise now both to challenge UKIP within the framework of
national independence (for the sake of liberalism and socialism) yet, if
necessary, to work alongside the independence Right against the Radical
Centre (for the sake of democracy) and either to force Labour to return to
its roots or get out of the way.
Some recognition is due to Left
activists who fought the good fight against the odds but picking out
names would be invidious. They know who they are. They would have
fought on even if Remain had inveigled itself to victory through its
command of the media and government. Life is good today but it is only
the first day of a struggle to make the prospect of a paper independence
a material reality that will bring a fairer Britain.