After the UK General Election, 12 December 2019, a personal reflection

1. There is urgent work to do. The terrible EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill (back in Parliament soon) is littered with bad law and power grabs. It must be called out as such and resisted, even though it will pass. House of Lords amendments are possible. It is vital to be clear about what the Johnson administration is getting away with. Under the Bill the Government will seize powers beyond merely simply leaving the EU. The immediate, rotten, reality of Conservative-majority rule must be made explicit. 

2. Do not cede ideological ground. If your considered view is that the UK is better inside the EU than out and that the UK’s future lies there, that remains a legitimate political stance worth advancing. For me the UK belongs in the EU and getting back there is a long-term project. International solidarity starts in your own region. Work with EU Citizens from other EU countries.

3. In the next year there is also a massive amount to fight for as regards our future relationship with the EU. The content of a UK-EU future status agreement (that will apply after the end of the transition period ending on 31 Dec 2020) is incredibly important. To have skin in the game, there needs to be a clear vision about what a progressive, pro-European solidarity version of such an agreement should look like. That work needs to begin now. The better the future UK-EU agreement, the less likely our society and NHS will be taken apart by an American trade deal. And remember, without any future status agreement, the No Deal scenario happens at the end of the transition period. 

4. If you want a Labour Government to advance progressive politics, then join Labour and get involved in the party’s internal debate over the next few months and years. There is a lot to talk about! 

5. The Conservatives plan to debauch the rule of law, pegging back judicial review, re-writing the Human Rights Act 1998, and possibly leaving the European Convention on Human Rights. All three need to be resisted. 

6. The Conservatives’ social and economic programme and their plans for the NHS are a disaster coming to your neighbourhood soon. Call out each and every detail and campaign against them. And yes, draw them to the attention of former Labour voters in the Midlands/North of England. But do so respectfully, we will all need to pull together. 

7. Wish the Scots well, they may well be independent soon. 

8. Watch Northern Ireland’s drift towards a border poll and re-unification with the Republic. It’s a slow one but beginning to accelerate. 

9. Remember that Prime Minister Johnson and his team are a radical right administration and many traditional Conservatives think so too. Build bridges with unlikely allies where it works. 

10. ‘Happiness is a new idea in Europe’ (Louis Antoine de Saint-Just, 3 March 1794). Let’s fight for that, in the UK and in common with our near-neighbours.

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