Hard Roads and Hard Cheese

The people have made a radical decision and it deserves radical action.

If we are to show the Leave camp, and especially those infrequent voters who came out and actually believe that their participation has made a decisive change in the way the country will be governed, that we have heard them, then we need to accept:

a) That we will not renege on their desire to close the door firmly on ‘Free Movement of People’ and

b) That we will therefore no longer have access to the ‘Single Market’ as free movement of people is an integral and unmovable part of the single market.

We are therefore left with the obvious solution that we must accept the (quite low) tariff barrier that will be imposed and that we are now in unfettered and direct competition with the EU as well as the rest of the world.

There is little point wasting time trying to negotiate a deal to stay in the Single Market when we quite simply reject one of its fundamentals. If we renege on a major plank of the Leave campaign we will simply prove that all those ‘non-voters’ who voted this time were right all along to believe that the country was governed by an establishment that they could not influence. Its simple really, or should that be really simple. We Lost! Hard Cheese!

There are hard lessons to be learned from this result:

1. If you don’t take part you don’t get counted;

2. If you’re in Scotland you are bound by the choices you made last time around – this horse has bolted! Any second Independence Referendum will fail, and the SNP will lose support.

3. The English are not scared by tales of hellfire and damnation, they are a bloody minded lot and are rightfully proud to be so.

It is unlikely that we will see a ‘One Nation’ Tory win their leadership battle (Yes I know May describes herself as that – Really!). Nor will we see the Labour Party putting forward a radical agenda as they move back to the centre.

It is not illiberal to be radical, bloody minded or proud to be British. It is illiberal to be racist, and a Little Englander. It is up to Liberals to make sure that the architects of this result are not the victors of the various elections which will take place in the next few months and especially in 2020.

We can defeat them by really accepting the result and putting forward our own radical measures.

In the negotiations, there will be attempts to ‘misplace’ some of the protection (workers rights etc.) which has come through our membership of the EU. Our first task is to bring such attempts to public attention and to keep a very beady eye on the legislation that will be introduced to bring into UK law those matters which were previously settled at EU level.

The decision to go it alone, will put in doubt major infrastructure projects; the Third Runway at Heathrow; the HS2 line; Nuclear Power. In the now, somewhat colder world, we have to show that we are moving forward confidently as a nation and that the Third Runway and Nuclear Power (we need two power stations not one) are driven forward rapidly. We also need to add to these projects major support for Renewable Power and the British based manufacturers of such, and a commitment to House Building, including Social Housing by local councils and others.

This to be paid for from the absolute decision not to contribute a penny piece to the EU budget (our competitors) or as the price of admission to a watered down Single Market. If savings are to be made, they need to be invested in infrastructure.

Now is not the time to pander to those who, rightly, say that the NHS and Social Welfare are under funded. These need to be paid for from earnings not savings, that is future taxes. There will be no room for the collection of greater taxes in the foreseeable future. Indeed we must expect the tax take to fall as the economy and international confidence falter. We must also expect inflation to rise as we pay more for goods due to the falling pound and EU tariffs – There will be no room for an increased tax take until we use the falling pound, and an increase in productivity, to increase our sales abroad. It is likely that pressure for higher wages will increase with a rise in inflation and this must be completely resisted. The people have chosen a Hard Road, they must take the consequences of their choice.

Whilst the NHS must be maintained, the welfare budget needs to be constrained and reduced.

There are areas where money could be cut. The payments (subsidies) for second and later children need to be radically reduced and preferably done away with. There is no need to subsidise the production of children. Those who want them will have them regardless and find a way of affording them, those who don’t needn’t.

The whole Motability Scheme needs to be tightened up, it is not a way to subsidise new car sales. It should be genuinely means tested, and real efforts made to regularly recheck the status of applicants.

The DWP could easily turn the JobCentres into a major employment agency, so that the unemployed are helped into temporary or part-time work and back onto benefits, without losing out on benefits (which is a very real danger for those who chose this route to try to regain their status as employed). If we are to seriously try to live without East European Leek Pullers, and Strawberry Pickers, then we need to mandate that those on benefits take up these jobs, at proper levels of payment, and then move back onto benefits (if needed) with the minimum of paperwork and no consequential loss of payments. The alternative is immigration or simply ploughing the produce into the soil and buying from abroad.

Being a Liberal at this time means advocating the policies that will show the British voters that we have listened to their democratic wishes, and which will make us competitive against the EU, China, Brazil and the advanced nations, and also independent of the major providers of carbon based fuels.

As an aside, if May wins the Tory Party leadership challenge, then she will also win the 2020 General Election. If Eagle wins the Labour Party leadership then she will see a revival of their fortunes, including in the still conjoined Scotland, where the SNP will be in decline.

We will be squeezed!

We need to be radical and to the forefront in everything.

There can be no “Let’s turn the clock back and rejoin the failing EU (and by then it will be seriously failing)!” This sort of thinking may be popular this week, it is a serious dead-end and has no future.

Liberals need to accept that the people have chosen a different road, which will be harder! Looking for soft options now will will, rightly, be rejected by voters.

Let’s take the Hard Road in the hope that the Sunny Uplands can be glimpsed way off in the hazy distance. Do we have an option?