We need to turn politics on again

Politics is not engaging at the moment.  Last week we sat and listened to Mrs May croak her way through PMQs (not surprising really if you think about the amount of talking she has had to do over the last week or so) and Jeremy Corbyn fail to land one decisive blow – despite the Government suffering a second humiliating defeat of their Brexit plan.  And because that was not enough excitement for one day this was followed by the Chancellor’s Spring Statement, and John McDonnell’s response which sounded like he was reading out his shopping list.  Hammond is not a very accomplished orator at the best of times and this was certainly not one of his better performances.

It is unsurprising therefore that social media, radio, television and conversation in the pub centres about ideals rather than detail – in fact just one utopian wish that Brexit (at least this part) would be over and everyone, including the Government could just get on with.  The problem is that there is no way out of this mess without a major compromise from someone.  As we have seen a small amount of movement from M Barnier and his European pals didn’t cut the mustard and therefore to get ourselves over the finish line either Jacob Rees-Mogg and his ERG cronies have to cave, or Mrs May has to change her red lines, or the EU has to give up on an indefinite Irish backstop.  For those of us who are still paying any attention to the shenanigans in Westminster and beyond, we know the likelihood or any of these is remote.   Listening to the Shadow Minister Rebecca Long-Bailey on the radio this morning increased my frustration.  She just wants a short extension to hammer out a deal that gives us a Customs Union with the EU – firstly that is such a watered down version of what her leader would like – and what leaving the EU actually means – and secondly how can that be accomplished in a month or two?  In essence it cannot, but for a Parliament that is totally bereft of ideas no-one has a better option.

The concern remains once we emerge from our Brexit saga (the optimist in me is sure we will) how to ensure that people re-engage with politics.  In order for our elected representatives to do their job properly apathy cannot retain the upper hand.  The most obvious way to do this is to bring forward innovative policies which show the Government is listening to the concerns of the electorate.  This could include extra funding for schools (a political hot potato and noticeably absent from today’s Spring statement), more changes to Universal Credit or expansion of the Troubles Families programme.  Let’s hope that whoever is in charge of the Government has the nous to do this – and not to call a General Election.

If you have any questions, please get in touch to discuss.