On Saturday I attended one of the 80 demonstrations across the UK against the proroguing of parliament to push through a no-deal Brexit. I went to Nottingham and joined hundreds of other people from all walks of life and political affiliations in a gathering next to the Brian Clough Statue and a march on Upper Parliament street.
I usually leave a protest full of hope but on Saturday I left feeling disappointed after people in the protest booed and jeered anti-austerity speakers. There has been plenty of research into why people voted to leave the European Union and many of those concur that one of the leading causes was Austerity including Thiemo Fetzer found that the likelihood of voting to leave was strongly and causally associated with proximity to austerity measures. We also hear this all the time from leave voters even if it is often with a racist narrative when people talk about too many children in classrooms or long waiting hours in NHS, or lack of affordable housing they are talking about austerity. If we funded our public services perhaps people wouldn’t be so angry at those they perceive to be undeserving of them. To hear people demanding a people’s vote whilst booing anti-austerity speakers was baffling almost as much as holding a liberal democrat sign whilst demanding the protest not become about party politics. The Liberal Democrats and their supporters need to accept that the policies they introduced alongside the Tories are a major cause of Brexit and that ignoring that will result in leaving the EU.
If we have a second referendum it cannot be another remain and stay the same campaign that lost in 2016 and it will lose again. People have clearly demanded change and telling someone who is living paycheck to paycheck or going to foodbanks to feed their families that things will get worse is pointless how could they get worse? As much as the leave campaign was lies wrapped in bollocks, they did offer a hopeful future that addressed austerity we can’t rely on fear politics we have to offer a hopeful future.
The ‘left’ and ‘centre’ must unite and campaign for anti-austerity policies to achieve the shared goal of avoiding a no-deal Brexit. I heard people claim that issues such as racial and economic inequality had nothing to do with the days protest but that is patently wrong. We know that those who already have little will be the ones to suffer the most and we need to communicate that not as a fear tactic with only the status quo on offer but honestly and with policies that will improve their lives. This can’t be another Tuition fee promise from the LibDems I don’t want to see them utilizing another popular opinion to get votes while doing nothing to achieve it, but it appears that that is what we are going to get.
On the bright side the loudest cheers came in favour of EU citizens, immigrants and calls for Boris Johnson to step down. If we can agree on that surely, we can agree that a country where a third of our children live in poverty, 250,000 people are homeless, and 590,000 people rely on foodbanks to eat cannot continue with the same policies that caused it. It is not good enough to have a second referendum and then continue with the status quo because the status is not quo even Boris Johnson knows this, his empty promises are all about more public spending. So come on LibDems and Labour centrists stop smearing Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party and embrace the largest party in Europe to stop a no-deal Brexit and get rid of the Tory party who are willing to shut down parliament and ignore legislation in their quest for a disastrous no-deal Brexit.