Breaking Boris Johnson – Lessons from Brecon and Radnorshire
We are in volatile political times; the dramatic result in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election shows this more clearly than ever. But when co-operation pays off, and we beat the forces of chaos and disaster, we can all celebrate. That’s what the Green Party is doing today.
Those of us who want to see the UK remain in Europe, and tackle climate change and inequality, have much to celebrate in the fact that Boris Johnson now has the slimmest possible majority in parliament – a majority of just one. And it’s a significant step to see a formerly leave voting constituency electing an MP who will stand firmly for remaining in the EU.
With parliament on a knife edge, the significance of gaining even one more MP to stand against the Prime Minister’s reckless dash towards a crash-out Brexit cannot be overstated.
The election of Jane Dodds happened after the local Green Parties in the constituency made the decision to withdraw from the by-election to maximise the chances of another Remain vote in parliament.
Our decision was key to the result, as was the Plaid Cymru decision to do likewise: the Liberal Democrat majority this week was 1,400 votes. The Green Party candidate won 1,300 votes in the seat in 2015, while Plaid Cymru, who also withdrew from the by-election, also got that many votes in 2017.
This decision by our local Green Party was made for the circumstances of this seat, in this vote, in these extraordinary times. And it is absolutely vindicated by this result.
With similar upsets in the European elections in May, including the Green Party coming ahead of the party of Government, it is clear that we are in a multi-party democracy and that traditional voting patterns and assumptions about who can win elections are breaking down.
And in a possibly imminent general election held under first-past-the-post, with all the volatility created in a system utterly unsuited to the circumstances, we know that further co-operation may be needed.
Ideas for temporary co-operation in some seats of a kind that none of our parties have tried before are now being explored. There is hope that this may be one way to save us from the Prime Minister’s bleak future plans.
Now that Johnson is turning the Conservative Party into the Brexit Party, now that the risk of a crash-out, no deal Brexit is real and approaching, major harm is threatened to the people who least deserve it.
The people whose real concerns about lost jobs, poverty wages, lack of investment and being taken for granted by the establishment helped push the Brexit referendum over the line, will suffer dreadfully. Their concerns will be pushed aside again as we go into a crisis bigger than anything austerity was wrongly supposed to solve.
Our divided country could be brought back together by tackling these real problems, and listening, as Caroline Lucas is doing with her project to listen to the real concerns of leave voting areas, in her Dear Leavers project.
In the coming months, we must not lose sight of the fact that the priority must be stopping the crash-out no deal Brexit that our Prime Minister is pushing for, which would be a disaster for Britain.
But we also need to remember that there is no deal he can negotiate that is better than being a member of the EU.
Remaining means enjoying the huge benefits of free movement, the environmental protections, workers’ rights and human rights protections of membership, and working together with the peoples of the continent to make multinational companies pay their taxes and stop trashing the planet.
As we have since 2016, the Green Party is calling for a People’s Vote – the only democratic way forward, giving the people the final say on the way out of this Brexit chaos.