Monday, July 04, 2016

Open Politics

The rumble of the Brexit earthquake continues.

As both Labour and Tory politicians jockey for leadership in their prospective parties, it is becoming all too clear that a new political system is now struggling to be born. The traditional left-right split has for some time been overlaid with a different matrix. Partly one might call this a socially liberal vs socially conservative spectrum. David Cameron, by campaigning on issues such as gay marriage, laid claim to a socially liberal stance, and such issues were not always split on conventional party lines. More to the point there are now far wider signifiers- it case become a matter of an entire political culture. 

In short the Brexit has revealed a totally different political spectrum: those who support globalization and the open society and those who oppose it. Broadly speaking, the metropolitan, young, educated remain voters are supporters, while the rural, older and less educated leave voters are not. This cultural split seems set to create still further upheaval.

The political system, as currently constituted, does not reflect this fundamental split. Jeremy Corbyn's reactionary Socialist dogma barely even recognizes the growing power of the open society, and to be honest, Theresa May is not exactly in touch with the open minded concerns of youth either.

Thus there is now an obvious opportunity to recast British politics in a more modern and responsive form. Though the Brexit crisis is only just beginning, the result may lead to some fundamental changes in the future. As Corbyn continue his stubborn resistance, it seems more and more likely that a Labour split might form the core of a new grouping- though not necessarily a particularly cohesive one.

The tedious managerialism that has been the bill of fare in the UK since the fall of Margaret Thatcher and the Berlin Wall has led nowhere.

The new politics will not rest on questions of administration but of philosophy. Those who believe in the open politics and the open society will still need to carry the unconvinced, but in the end the closed society can not deliver the prosperity that the open can. 

I shall return to this debate, but the political sea change may throw up some big surprises in the coming months and years. Though Theresa May offers the comfort of a pause for breath today, by 2020 the pressure for real change may have out played her caution. 

The Brexit campaign leaders- Farage, Gove, Johnson- have demonstrated both a cowardice and a dishonesty that will rightly blacken their name for the foreseeable future, Brexit may be their victory, but it is already a Pyrrhic one, and as their hollow promises are revealed for the lies they were, there will be little forgiveness for any of them.

The vindication of the Liberal Democrats has been far swifter than they hoped, albeit that it has come with such a price for the UK. However, the party can now lay claim to being in the vanguard of political change. The game's afoot.   

No comments: