There are more important issues than Brexit


As I argued in the Guardian earlier in the week, the Greens and Lib Dems should not be too overwhelmed by their results in last week’s Euro-elections. It is not the best Green result in these elections, and the Lib Dems managed a higher vote share in three recent general elections.

After all, what will it gain them, if their relative success lets in Farage.

There are in short other battles, other arguments, more important than Brexit or the progress of the Lib Dems. One of them is climate change – and the latest round of schools ‘strikes’ was on Friday – and the other is the looming battle for the nation, not between the Lib Dems, Labour or anyone like them, but between Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson.

It is likely to be a horribly backward-looking battle which entirely misses the point, and it is vital that the planet should win – and therefore all of us. In comparison to that battle, I am happy to sacrifice the Brexit argument lock, stock and barrel.

To those who say it is all one struggle, I would point to the 1930s. No doubt the German social democrats were pretty chuffed by their performance in the 1932 election (21 per cent) but history was against them.

Nor was history on the side of those who struggled in the UK for a commitment to the League of Nations or even for against Franco in Spain. Those who urged liberals to unite around one battle – against Nazi expansion in central Europe, and to ignore everything else – were probably right.

In the same way, the American strategists who fought the Vietnam War as a proxy, because of the Domino Theory of communist infiltration, were also wrong and tragically so.

This is not to pretend that the Brexit Party is somehow related to Hitler. Just that it is easy to be so self-obsessed that you don’t see the real historical shifts as they happen.

Nothing matters now apart from human survival, and that means beating Farage – who is sceptical about climate change – fairly and squarely on his own terms (it also means beating the old nihilist Boris). Not by revelations about where his funding is coming from. Not by clever scepticism about the intelligence of his voters – who we will need to be our voters. But directly.

That means we have to construct a vehicle on the radical centre capable of beating him. In fact, the term is suddenly emerging in public discourse – from Chuka Umana at Change UK and even from the most interesting of the Conservative leadership hopefuls, Rory Stewart.

This is difficult because we will need to put aside anything that divides. It needs, for example, to be universally welcoming. That means no politically correct language, which seems to be to be designed to exclude ordinary people. It means explicitly shunning the pointless rage of political correctness and identity politics – this will need to be a crusade that welcomes men and women equally, and without the bias of the traditional right or the cynicism of the traditional left.

It also needs to put Brexit behind us, even if that means accepting the result of the 2016 referendum – with no aspersions cast on those who voted for to leave or remain. It is hard for a broad democratic movement to turn its back on democracy. I accept of course that the Lib Dems can hardly go soft on their opposition to Brexit now, but they will need to continue it while somehow articulating it in such a way that it involves and includes those who voted Leave.

Because no force on earth can stand up to a grassroots political movement which believes it has been betrayed by the elite.

We have all been over the past generation. So don’t let the new Farage elite have all the best tunes.

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Radix is the radical centre think tank. We welcome all contributions which promote system change, challenge established notions and re-imagine our societies. The views expressed here are those of the individual contributor and not necessarily shared by Radix.


  1. Stephen Gwynne says

    On this occasion David, your logic is one based on growth not sufficiency. For example, I haven’t yet heard you once pronounce the very real fact that the EU economic system is fundamentally unsustainable. It is fundamentally unsustainable because it facilitates ecologically destructive free trade. Climate change denial which rejects the idea that there is a linear relationship between human driven carbon emissions and global temperatures is not even in the same ballpark as climate action deniers who blandly profess the need for action and does absolutely nothing of any relevance to contribute to the needed actions. Instead, let’s promote the fundamentally unsustainable EU economic system as the means to collectively create sustainability. Where is the evidence to suggest that the EU has any intentions whatsoever to curb ecologically destructive growth and to curb the competitive impulse that indoctrinates people to need or want ecologically destructive growth.

    Your positioning is not the radical centre. It is hard right classical economic liberalism and soft left social liberalism. The only difference between the LibDems and the Brexit Party is that the former want to do their classical liberalism in the EU and the latter want to do their classical liberalism globally without the Big State EU. If the LibDems are centrist, which they clearly are not because they don’t even believe in democracy but classical liberal technocracy, then the Brexit Party is centrist too.

    I spent months researching the EU and the pros and cons of leaving before commiting to a Leave stance and the primary reason was because national democracy is the only fair and peaceful way to create national sustainability. This is because the EU economic system is fundamentally unsustainable and unable to deliver long term economic, social and ecological prosperity and wellbeing without the continued and sustained appropriation of foreign resources and future reserves of renewable resources.

    The unsustainability of the EU is underpinned by the 4 economic freedoms which allows businesses and individuals to competitively seek profit without the intrusion of democracy or national initiatives to create long-term sustainability and sufficiency.

    The denial of this basic fact is the real battle, not Farage who is a useful vehicle to allow national democracy to invoke national sustainability, or Boris Johnson who again is a useful vehicle to allow national democracy to invoke national sustainability.

    The real battle is with people like you, and yes I am standing in front of you with my eyes squarely looking into yours, because it is people like you who spends all their time doublespeaking the need for radical change but in reality spends all their time supporting the status quo of ecological destruction.

    You literally spend all your time criticising people who offer real change and give all your constructive time to people who say they want change but do absolutely nothing to make that change happen.

    The UK is fundamentally unsustainable. By deploying the communicative tool
    Ecological Impact = population x affluence x technology

    We need to reduce all three otherwise we are ongoingly creating ecological destruction, moving into deeper and deeper levels of ecological debit and therefore moving closer and closer to a precarious existence.

    What is the EU doing in this regard. Nothing.
    What are you doing in this regard. Nothing.
    What are the LibDems, Greens, Tories and Labour doing in this regard. Nothing.

    The only glimmer of hope is national democracy and bring able to utilise our national autonomy to create long term national sustainability and national sufficiency and hope that everyone else will follow.

    If whatever you believe in does not deeply embed sufficiency and cooperation rather than growth and competition then it is fundamentally flawed and will continue destroying our natural means of survival.

    This is the real climate change denialism and the real ecological destruction denialism. Not the questioning of whether there are nonlinear factors which dampens or mitigates human driven co2 emissions.

    There is no radical centre on a dead planet!

  2. Michael says

    Biggest threat is Population Explosion!!! World should be trying to cut back to about 2 Billion over the next century! With all then having a decent standard of living

  3. Peter Underwood says

    “Because no force on earth can stand up to a grassroots political movement which believes it has been betrayed by the elite.”

    You said it in one. We have all been betrayed by the ruling elite, especially those in Brussels, and there is no going back. They have shown us their colours and they are lacking. The forces now in play are irresistable – the liberals and Liberals are on the back foot and their poor defence will shatter against the onslaught to come.

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