Friday, 19 May 2017

It's the economy, stupid. Isn't it?

The idea that the UK is a nation perched on a knife-edge division between Brexiters and Remainers has begun to unravel over the last few days – and probably a good thing too.

Let me cite three pieces of evidence, at least two of them deriving at least partly from the new thinktank Radix.

The first is the Financial Times report on what they called the ‘Re-leavers’, the people who voted to remain but now want to accept the result and get on with it. The report suggested they were about 23 per cent of the electorate. Or a big chunk out of the 48 per cent.

The second is the blog on Radix by Professor Corrado Poli on the distinction between the racist Leavers from the old right and the reformers who might go either way, and which also divides the Remain camp potentially into two.

The third, I have to admit in all modesty, is by me. It is my Guardian article about the division, this time within traditional Lib Dem voters, between the Remainers and the Liberal Brexiters – those who voted to leave last year, especially in former Lib Dem western strongholds, because they are sceptical about the power of supranational bureaucracies (any large bureaucracies actually).

You can read this here. There are, as I write, 400 comments so far ‘below the line’ slagging me off about it.

The main implication of this fragmentation is the way it confuses a previously clear Lib Dem election strategy. This will matter only if the party hollows out its radical message to make their campaign a re-run of a flawed, technocratic, cerebral and somewhat punitive referendum campaign last year.

My advice is to think a bit about the kind of themes the Liberal Brexiters want to hear about – the failures of the banks to nurture our struggling local economies. The Lib Dem manifesto commits them to forcing the big banks to pay to set up a network of local banks capable of doing the job with small business that they manifestly no longer want.

In short, the fragmentation of the Lib Dem target market only matters if they forget that elections are fought, won and lost on economics. It should not have to be said – but it’s the economy, stupid.

See my new book Ronald Laing:The rise and fall and rise of a revolutionary psychiatristGet ahead of the Mad to be Normal film when it comes out!

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