Macron’s victory in the context of broken politics: an opportunity for much needed democratic change.
First, a definition: Brexit, unexpected act of collective stupidity. Who benefits economically from Brexit? No one. “Get our country back” is code for bigotry, while for others it was a protest vote. Example: “we voted so no other EU fishermen can use our waters”; and no EU consumers will now buy your fish. In the best scenario the UK could negotiate its way back to its previous status, but without any votes on EU policy. Own goal by team UK.
The citizens might have been duped, but who had the genius idea of proposing the referendum in the first place? Politicians who though it would make them more popular, even at the risk of a national disaster; they don’t even seem to have prepared for the possibility of winning the referendum. And this coming from the Tories, the party of austerity in a recession, the single most stupid thing you could do, with negative consequences for millions.
But then, where’s the opposition? Nowhere to be seen; Brexit is fine for Labour, more interested in postures and internal squabbles than the future of the country. The Lib Dems were long out of the picture, having foolishly tied themselves to the Tories in the coalition. Broken politics in the UK has a specific meaning: none of the traditional parties represent the national interest. If no one represents the UK’s interests, why would Scots remain?
It is in this context that Macron’s victory shows the way: however difficult it may seem, the only way forward is to replace the existing parties with something new and credible. Traditional parties in the UK have been engaging in light populism with terrible consequences, while France faced the prospect of something more direct and even nastier, full on populism, against which its traditional parties have been powerless. It is still early days to tell which way the Macron presidency will turn, but the very first step was bold and necessary: a movement of citizens.
The enemy has been unmasked, faced with populism citizens need to rally, never mind the old nonsense of right and left. Alas no such solution can be glimpsed for the UK in the foreseeable future. Cool headed France shows the way, while hysterical GB can only hobble on and grumble. Plus ça change?