There has been much said and written about Brexit – and understandably so. Until the result started coming in it seemed clear to all involved, and even those only casually interested, that Britain would vote to remain in the European Union. It didn’t.
Over 1.3million more Britons voted to go than stay.
Reading various commentators, one comes up with different answers. But it appears there was a clear movement against the ‘powers-that-be,’ or the political class, as some refer to them. From the Prime Minister to the Chancellor, from the German Chancellor to the US President, the voting public were being told it was in Britain’s best interests to remain in the European Union.
The markets would crash (they did). The sky would fall in (it didn’t). But few commentators were expecting the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to resign.
On the one hand, Mr. Cameron was pushing for the voting public to vote ‘Remain,’ articulating the danger the British economy was not strong enough to survive a vote to leave. On the other hand, upon his resignation, he made it clear he believed the British economy would survive the result, and he’d do what he could to assist the transition to a pro-Leave Prime Minister.
No matter what one thinks of the Prime Minister, full credit must be given to him for his decision to resign. A lesser man would have stayed. Meanwhile, there appears to be a move to see a spill motion take place for the leadership of the Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn considers his position safe and secure. Only time will tell.
But what of the voting public? Ever so slowly, a movement is gaining strength around various liberal western democracies to ‘take back control,’ the Leave campaign’s slogan, articulated so beautifully by Boris Johnson. The political class is stifling the ability in this age of information, for the everyday individual to have their say. A referendum is a marvellous way by which the people, silent most of the time, can exert their influence on public policy.
As it happens, Brexit was ideal in this regard. The result was a surprise to all, even those leading the campaign to leave
As it happens, Brexit was ideal in this regard. The result was a surprise to all, even those leading the campaign to leave, who were readying themselves to concede before the polls even closed.
Those people that voted to leave felt, at least in part, that their ability to act as Britons was being superseded by their need to act as a member of the EU. What had ever happened to their bulldog spirit? Had it waned in the need to ‘do the right thing,’ to do what they’re told by the government of the day? By the EU?
It’s understandable that so many Britons, a majority of voters no less, decided they wanted out. Consider this example relating to ‘jam’ manufacturers:-
The EU ordered makers of ‘jam’ to call their ‘jam’ a ‘fruit spread.’ As was explained in the Independent in May this year;
[EU] trading standards officers ordered...products containing between 25 and 50 per cent sugar [to] be called "reduced-sugar jams" but those with between 50 and 60 per cent have been dubbed as being in a "no jam's land". The rules have added to costs and hampered an export drive to markets including the United States...
Three years ago, EU rules [were amended to say] that a preserve must contain at least 60 per cent sugar to be called a jam.
This might sound unimportant, but not if you’re a jam manufacturer within the EU. So when Boris Johnson says Britons want to “take back control” he is not only talking about control of markets, he is talking about ‘the little people’ like jam manufacturers, taking back control of what they can and cannot call ‘jam.’
One can argue that red-tape and bureaucracy has become part of the staple diet of EU members, affecting the lives of Britons. National sovereignty is seen by some to be an historical term no longer appropriate in this day and age. Some refer to comments such as these as ‘xenophobic.’ Yet this, in itself, may lead to the sensationalising of the topic in question – how to reduce (or, rather, not further increase), Britons exposure to government bureaucracy and regulation.
We live in the information age. Yet a lot of the information we have at hand is in the form of social media, hence the reason why the political class can get a result such as Brexit so wrong. The vast majority of social media users are young people or people who require it for work purposes. Meanwhile, the silent majority have an opinion, but share it, mostly, with family and friends. They live in a different world.
Consider the Tea Party in the United States for a moment. What was it that got that movement started? One opinion is that neither party could face the facts that the United States was living beyond its means. With better leadership, the Tea Party may have succeeded.
And one can hardly ignore Donald Trump. Love him or loathe him, he’s there because no-one else will step up to the plate. Or perhaps he just drowns them out. Needless to say his commentary may be crass but his presence shows there’s a chance for an ‘anti-establishment’ movement to rise up and challenge the political class.
In Australia, the people are crying out for a third force to lead the way, to speak for them. The Greens receive about 10% of the vote each election because people feel they have nowhere else to put their protest vote. Yet over the past ten years we have seen the establishment of what one may call a ‘minor party phenomenon.’
There’s the Liberal-Democrats, the Palmer United Party, the Flux Party, the Family First Party, and many others, none of whom have, as yet, been successful in gaining a foothold in the parliament. Yet we have a situation where neither major party can gain a majority in the Senate, meaning constant negotiation with independents to get legislation through.
The people want to be heard. The success of the Leave campaign has seen to that. The chance to find our classical liberal, democratic base is upon us.
The bulldog has barked!
Published by Owen Tilley