I wrote this a week or so ago when discussing what might happen if Remain won the referendum:
I believe that the challenge will be to create a short-term coalition of interests between the [Labour, Green, SNP, Plaid Cymru and maybe some Northern Ireland] parties with the one, and only, focus of re-establishing a basis for government that reflects the best interests of the people of this country. Only by doing so can the credibility of these parties be restored, because this exercise would demonstrate to a deeply disenchanted population that politicians have listened to the message that they have been given.
People dislike their voices not being heard.
People want diversity inside the Westminster bubble.
People have had enough of the power of large corporations and want it to be constrained.
People have had enough of of the petty squabbling.
And, to most people’s surprise, they have discovered that coalition does not necessarily lead to disaster.
So it is my suggestion that if there is a very small vote for Remain it is the job of all political parties to join together (although I very much doubt that the Conservatives will) to do these things:
- Agree on a basis for electoral reform
- Agree on the future of the House of Lords, and its reform
- Agree a broad programme of reforms to be demanded from the EU
- Agree policies on migration
This is not about abandoning party politics: this is about dealing with a national crisis where democracy itself is under threat, which threat the government is deepening rather than relieving by the decisions that it has taken. But, and this is the key point, this will take time, and as a result I do not believe it is in any opposition parties’ interest to force a general election now.
I added this suggestion when discussing the potential consequence of a Brexit vote and the Article 50 negotiations not being complete by 2020:
So what of 2020 in this case? I would live to think that a coalition dedicated to these things might be elected:
- Electoral reform
- House of Lords reform
- EU readmission on revised terms
- A national economic plan.
This government should, I suggest, seek a mandate for no more than two years. Then there would be new elections and a referendum on the terms for re-admission to the EU.
I note I am not the only person thinking in this way. Paul Mason is too. He has argued for a five point plan:
1. Force a general election within 6 months.
2. Labour, the SNP/Plaid and Greens to make electoral pact to keep UKIP out and stop a right wing Tory government destroying progressive legislation
3. Detailed Article 50 negotiations to be put on hold until new government in power
4. A Labour/SNP/Plaid/Green coalition government to negotiate terms of Brexit, aiming to stay in EEA if possible but in all cases to retain progressive laws on consumer rights, environmental protection, workers rights etc.
5. New government to call second Scottish referendum; with Devo Max on ballot and no-penalty arrangements for secession overseen by Treasury/BoE in case of Yes vote to independence.
There is a lot of common ground.
It is my hope that this thinking on a coalition in the national interest might develop. If now is not the time for it no time ever will be.
Paul and I are in touch.