It is not possible to rule the people without understanding them. Many revolutions have started this way and Brexit is no different — it is the people’s revolution
A new Prime Minister. A Labour leadership contest. A day which drew comparisons to ‘the Night of the Long Knives’, with confused and distressed politicians either sacked, or to their surprise promoted.
Confused? Distressed? The last few weeks of rapid and at times baffling changes reflect the attempts of insecure politicians, who fear themselves lost with the electorate, to solve the violent divisions within the country. Needless to say, British politics has been reshaped.
A politician’s worst nightmare is the thought that they fail to understand their electorate; the people they aim to appease throughout their long years in Parliament.
Vote by vote. Bill by bill. A politician does his or her best to ensure that their decision, is the one most likely to be favoured by their local electorate. In order to achieve this they need to understand the voters.
For a prime minister, they need to be able to judge the national public mood, and on the back of that, either scrap a supposedly unpopular policy, or speed up the process of implementing a ‘vote-winner’. Throughout the prime minister’s time in office, they aim to appease what they understand to be the national mood.
And it is this understanding of the local and national mood, or rather lack of it, which has undone many a politicians: most recently our very own Prime Minster, David Cameron. These politicians, simply, did not understand what the majority of the public believed. Seventy-five per cent of our MPs supported Remain. Seventy-five per cent of our MPs misunderstood the country.
When our now ex-Prime Minister made the decision to advocate for Remain, did he believe the public to be in agreement with him? Or did he think he was agreeing with them?
I suspect the PM sided with what he though was the winning side. How so devastatingly wrong he was. He may never forgive his decision, but it is one that can teach politicians a grave though valuable lesson.
If you’re stuck inside the Westminster bubble, are a member of the establishment, or brand the extreme views of voters as racist or bigotry. Make the scary trip north of Watford, and listen to the people you have recently ignored. The views you may brand as extreme are quickly becoming the position of an upset and angry majority.
This very anger has caused political earthquakes, brought in a new PM and left the Labour Party in disarray. And all this may have been prevented if only the people were understood better, by making it a point to actually listen.
Theresa May faces a huge challenge. To appease the angry. To sympathise with those who lost. To be diplomatic with the mardy.
Politicians and people are of different views over the biggest policy decision faced since WWII — BREXIT.
Our new Prime Minister has promised to ‘help those who are suffering from a burning injustice, the white working-class boys at the bottom of the pile’.
For Therese May to fulfil these promises, she will have to observe the lesson of Westminster’s central teaching: to listen.
This time the teachers are not those in power, but those ‘at the bottom of the pile’. Power is not held with the MPs or even the Prime Minister, but with the democratic voice of the electorate.
Westminster must always listen and not just pretend to do so. Otherwise, the anger that’s been provoked by its deaf ears, will only grow.
Those MPs who fail to understand the people, will find time and time again their world turned on its head within 24 hours of a losing vote — saddened and without a job.