Monday, 26 June 2017

Are we about to return to the extrme? My Coalville Times column

A few days ago I was sat at home when my telephone pinged to tell me I had a message. As happens most days it was from those nice people at Facebook reminding me of posts that I had entered on that day in years gone past.

On this particular day my reminder told me of a discussion I had back in 2009 on the day after the County Council elections. I was dismayed, as were the many people who had responded to my post, that voters in the Coalville division had just returned a member of the British National Party as their representative at County Hall.

My actual words, something which I now find regrettable and silly but included here for the sake of completeness, were ‘We’re a town full of racists’.

I abhorred virtually everything that the BNP stood for and undoubtedly many of their policies were racist but, looking back, my less mature self was startling in the simplistic view that it took.

Of course Coalville isn’t full of racists. What we were after years of economic decline was a town that felt it had been left behind by the political establishment, whose people were unlistened to and for whom many had found an outlet in a politics of dissatisfaction echoing the better days of years past.

If Coalville had, as my original slur implied, been full of racists it goes without saying that the BNP would be still occupying council seats now; as it was it took just one term of office for local people to see them for what they were.

But moving away from an extremist party didn’t automatically mean that people in this area felt any more connected to politics in general. This area, entirely understandably, continued to have strong voices for anti-establishment politics whether through UKIP as a party or BREXIT as a concept.
In an election all any of us ever do is lend a political party our vote. No politician has a right to expect support from one term to the next, it is incumbent on all of them to earn those invaluable crosses on our ballot papers every single time.

As I stood at the parliamentary election count in the early hours of last Friday morning it struck me how for the first time in my memory a significant majority of us had chosen to lend our votes not to parties of dissent but to one of the two historic parties of power.

Up and down the country, in vast numbers, voters had returned to that binary decision of Labour or Conservative and have entrusted the political establishment not to let them down.

The difficulty now for both parties will be in trying to earn the future support of such broad churches of views or will issues important to people right here in this district will once again be forgotten?

Last year the overwhelming majority of voters in North West Leicestershire who took part in the EU referendum voted to Leave.

What will happen if now through political necessity BREXIT is watered down? Will those who stridently argued for it simply say ‘OK’ or will they, once again, feel like they are not listened to?
We are all only just getting over this General Election so predictions about what might come in five years, or potentially five months, may be a little hasty but what happens if and when voters feel ignored once more?

Will we see a resurgence of UKIP? Or, far worse, whatever guise extremists have chosen to take by that time?

Our politicians have been given the most complex scenario ever imposed by the British public; a scenario of delivering their most difficult diplomatic mission ever with no real mandate from the electorate in how to achieve it.

Is it a mission which is now doomed for failure and all of the implications that entails?

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