My elder son and I were discussing politics over Christmas, as is our habit, and he accused me of being an idealist. That resonated with another theme, which is being accused of being a Remainer. The reflection resulted in this Twitter thread:
I am bored by being patronised by those telling me ‘don’t you know Remain is dead?, closely followed by ‘Move on.’ I can tell you, I have. That’s why I want to Return. To Europe, for sure. But to something much more than that.
I want to also Return to a positive politics. That’s the form rooted in compassion, care and genuine concern. But it’s also one that’s also learned that economics has moved on from what was taught by that subject in the 1980s, as has our understanding of the environment.
I want a politics that is not based in materialism. Or jingoism. Or nationalism. Or populism. Instead, I want a Return to the principles of mutual respect, tolerance, acceptance and co-existence, with each other and the rest of this world, human and otherwise.
I want a Return to a bias to the least well off. That’s because we all know the best-off can already look after themselves. It’s those who have trouble doing so, for whatever the reason, that I want to be the priority in politics. I wonder, who wouldn’t, and why?
I want a Return to long term vision based on principles.
I want a Return to the belief that society matters.
I want a Return to the days when most believed they could live without the fear that misfortune might bring.
I want a Return to the belief that making matters. I define making widely. It’s not just the things we need. It’s also the services we need just as much. And the arts, learning and decent societies too. What is not ‘making’ is rentierism and dealing purely for the sake of profit.
I want a Return to the time when monopoly was rightly mistrusted, because it always exploits.
I want a Return to the time when professions had ethics.
I want a Return to a National Health Service.
But National Health also requires a National Wealth Service. That means a Return to the common wealth that delivers physical and financial security for those living in our society, guaranteeing homes, energy, communications and transport for all, plus safe savings.
I want a Return to the belief that all people’s opinions matter, and a voting system that reflects that, which now means an end to first past the post.
I want a Return to local decision making, but not in a tax system that can use this to reinforce regional inequality.
I want a Return to respect for time off.
I want a Return to the awareness that we might once have desired many of these things, but that we didn’t always find how to deliver them. So I want a Return to the endeavour to do so.
I want to return to the idea that what matters is much more than a pile of cash, whether measured as GDP, profit or notional wealth.
I want a Return to the idea that we are all in this together, too long forgotten by almost all of politics, with its focus on tribalism.
I want a Return, in other words, to the common good.
Is that too much to hope for?