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Post Referendum Blues

July 15, 2016 2:34 PM
By Joan Tebbutt

Local Lib Dems and many others feel let down and disenfranchised by the dishonesty and aggression of both sides in the pre EU referendum campaigns. Many of us are angry, including many young people whose futures we have compromised, yet who will live with this decision for the longest time. Yet many who voted Leave did so without knowing the full facts; in the belief that Remain would win anyway; and in an attempt to rebel against the status quo, with the EU being the scapegoat for multiple ills.

Whilst the walls may not have fallen down, the foundations have been cracked and the future is uncertain for our economy, for our damaged reputation in the world, and, perhaps even more depressingly, our split UK and our fractured society. The hate-filled views of the far right have been fueled and given a powerful voice, whereas the tolerant, open minded and open hearted amongst us, whatever way we voted, appear to be voiceless and despair for our country. Unless we act promptly and together, there are growing fears about the racist outbursts and potential for civil disorder, which could grow when those who voted Leave realise that Brexit brings no improvement in their circumstances. The impact on the most vulnerable and most powerless will be difficult to bear.

This is not a continuation of so-called Project Fear. It is Project Reality Check. Leave campaigners left us with no proposals, let alone a definite plan; reneged on the best sounding suggestion they made during the campaign (better funding for the NHS); then abandoned the sinking ship. Where is the leadership? Where is the vision? "Independence" requires both in bucket loads, but there is a vacuum at the helm of our nation. "Independence" is a word that implies pride; but pride comes before a fall, and what we have become is shameful.

The truth is that many have been, and are still hurting. Government austerity policy has failed and must be stopped. Our attitudes towards others have to change, and we have to help each other in more effective ways, on local, regional and national levels. Government and politics in general must change. It is no good Theresa May saying that ordinary members of the public "do not feel that our economy works for everyone", when her own voting history in parliament shows that she voted against calling on the government to get more people into work; against introducing a compulsory jobs guarantee; against standing up for families in the private rental sector; against curbing pay day loans; and against banking reform. We need consistency in the creation of government policy and integrity in making political statements.

Those who are comfortably off may complain about their holidays abroad costing more and getting less Euros per pound. At the moment they can afford the holiday. If the economy suffers, and it already is, many more will be struggling with daily living costs rather than holidays. What is the evidence? The pound is worth less; Banks and large companies are thinking of moving out of the UK; small businesses started with EU grants are now struggling to meet the higher costs of raw materials; our leading edge universities are losing out on EU research money; local authorities are being told not to spend EU money already awarded to them.

The nation needs to heal itself, pulling together without becoming isolationist in the face of the realities of globalization. We must rebuild good working relationships with neighboring countries and the wider world. For that we must be, once again, a tolerant nation that can rightly be proud of itself. Lib Dems believe that the UK has the potential to do that, and we would like to hear from anyone who feels the same way. Let us, together, build the progressive voice this country needs.