Two weeks is a long time in post-Brexit politics

In case you’re new to this blog: I was firmly in the Remain camp (a non-voting supporter, despite being a British citizen but that’s another story). I use the past tense because I think it important to recognise that Brexit has been decided by the people and will happen, in one form or other.

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I’m not going to make any predictions about the possible economic outcomes of this decision, the model that will be adopted finally, or Britain’s future standing in the world. (Let’s face it, my previous record is not good, I predicted that Remain would win the day.) But I do know that there’s a lot of work to get through, work of a very practical and pressing nature.

Let’s assume that the political landscape settles down to some sort of normality this autumn. The people at the helm of their respective parties, when they know who they are, will need to devise a process to produce a new government, which itself will need a strong mandate to implement the exit plan it will have been voted on, which in turn will need to address such points as access to the single market, a position on immigration, the precise nature of the friendly relationship it wishes to maintain with the rest of Europe and also how it proposes to deal with the respective positions adopted by the various nations in the United Kingdom.

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This is a lot to take on. However, by far the trickiest task facing the next government is how to take the people with them. No, democracy isn’t perfect. And no, we can’t have another referendum, changing the rules after the event because we don’t like the result is not sensible (retrospective measures very rarely are.) But yes, people are really really cross and fed up. I won’t dwell on the rather unhelpful caricatures of Remainers and Brexiteers that have proliferated over the past couple of weeks. I’ll try and stop lamenting over the visible anger and hurt expressed on both sides, with unfair accusations of racism and exasperation about misinformation chief among them.

For my part, the main change I would like to see relates to that last point, misinformation. If there was a Maslow’s hierarchy of needs specific to information, I would put education at the bottom of it. In fact, it would take up two thirds of the pyramid. A knowledge base from which to start, the ability to process information and the nurturing of young people’s curiosity and questioning, these all depend on education, wherever it comes from.  I would label the remaining third of the pyramid “communication”.

As regards education, despite the many frustrations we experience with a range of education systems, I do believe that a lot of attention is being paid to how we teach our young. We generally care about it and a LOT of people are engaged: families, teachers, schools and education ministries.

On the other hand, I believe that we are only scratching the surface of understanding how communication really works for humans. I am becoming increasingly fascinated with this and have started musing on the subject. I propose to try and learn some more, which probably means some research. Pointers and suggestions welcome; right now I’m thinking about the power of “story telling” for instance, the insistence on the appeal to emotions to promote a message and all that sort of thing.

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Brexit is already no longer absolutely dominating British and European headlines. Since June 23rd, atrocities in Bangladesh and Iraq, shootings in the US and various sporting events have claimed column inches and bandwidth. Soon, Messrs Farage, Johnson, Gove, Cameron, Corbyn et al will gradually fade away from wordy articles, incendiary tweets, interviews, satirical sketches and cartoons, only to be referred to occasionally alongside other such former politicians as “Thatcher”, Enoch Powell and Michael Foot. O brave new world, etc.

 

Miranda_-_The_Tempest_JWW
Miranda – The Tempest by John William Waterhouse

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