Working with grassroots organisations like Ely for Europe and the European Movement is one way of tackling a problem like Brexit. It’s helped me to become better informed on the issues and to participate in the protest against the inanity that is Brexit. While I’ve had the honour and pleasure of Co-Chairing Ely for Europe over the past two years, I’m now stepping down from my chairing post. I’ll still be involved with the group and on their committee. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from years of volunteering it’s that the helm has to be passed around from time to time to keep others involved and to ensure the group doesn’t become a clique.
So, what now? In a matter of weeks, the big decisions concerning Brexit will be made, whether it’s how we’re going to leave the EU or if battle-weary politicians seek to save face by implementing a people’s vote. Much of this will be in parliament’s hands. This leaves me with the feeling that a lot of my work has been done on the Brexit front.
I’ve been getting more involved with local politics and the workings of the local councils – in Ely, we have city, district and county levels. I’ve been somewhat involved in the past, but stayed on the fringes. My willingness to plunge in – if I’m not mixing my metaphors – has come from a sense of hopelessness at the national level. In Britain, our politicians have let us down. They aggressively spout forth on the ‘will of the people’ but seem blind to the majority of polls and surveys over the past two years showing that most people in Britain do not wish to leave the European Union. Before that, there were austerity measures and the growing gap between rich and poor. Anyone who has been following British politics will tell you that these ills are entangled in party politics and not in the best interest of the country. That is, we’re not talking about competing ideologies – we’re talking power games.
Last night I was having drinks with friends from America and South Africa. International travellers, broadsheet readers – yes, I know, the chattering classes. Our consensus: Britain was turning into another Italy. The political sway of Nigel Farage, the popularity of Jeremy Corbyn, the bumbling incompetence of Boris Johnson and Therese May are paralleled by Berlusconi, Matteo Salvini and so on. Britain, like Italy, has become a laughing stock. But what makes Italy work, and has kept it working since the war despite political chaos at the top, has been local governments and concerned citizens. With that thought in mind, I take my next steps.