30th November 2018
This last weekend saw the switching on of the Christmas lights in Rutherglen, Burnside and Cambuslang. We are already into December, another festive season upon us, dark and wet weather the order of the day.
The darkness of the season is matched by the darkness of the political world. The Prime Minister has spent the last week touring the UK, telling everyone that her Brexit “deal” is the only game in town.
Yet, at the same time, official studies from the UK and Scottish Governments, the Governor of the Bank of England and others all point out that all forms of Brexit are worse economically than staying in the European Union. No wonder so many people are now joining the Liberal Democrats in calling for a People’s Vote on the Brexit terms.
So I am glad that I was able to persuade South Lanarkshire Council to back a People’s Vote with an option to stay in the EU. A People’s Vote is becoming increasingly likely – and may be the only way to resolve the obvious stalemate in Parliament.
But reversing the European referendum decision of 2016 would not solve all problems. Politics has been dominated for far too long by the divisions of Brexit and the independence referenda – both fuelled by dissatisfaction with current political parties, by lack of hope of a better future after the financial crisis, by a sense of being let down by our leaders.
Brexit has already been enormously costly – but it has produced a close examination of many business sectors and many issues as part of the negotiation. We know that London and the financial services industry are too dominant in the political and economic life of our country, that free movement across Europe is vastly more important than it was made out to be, that too much power has been scooped away from local communities by the Scottish, British and European governments, and that lack of business investment, gross inequality of reward, and inadequate research and development continue to hold back our economy.
So the People’s Vote we want on Brexit should be rather more inspiring than the grim referendum of 2016. It might help if we each tried to understand the perspective of those who take a different view to our own.