IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

The country is more divided than ever

16 June, 2017

• FOR the second national ballot running, Islington has ended up on the wrong side of an extremely close result.

Last year, the borough voted solidly for Remain in an EU referendum which chose Leave with only 4 per cent separating the two sides.

Last week, Islington’s two constituencies both voted strongly for Labour and saw the Tories win marginally more seats in Parliament but with just 2.5 per cent between the overall votes of the two parties.

National voting patterns in the two ballots look very similar. The major cities vote one way, the shires the other.

Within this, there are more subtle trends. The young tend to vote with the cities and, indeed, are one of the driving forces of the city vote. The level of education seems also to play a part, as does the degree of multi-ethnicity.

The country is more divided than ever in my political lifetime. Worse still, the balance of power between the opposing camps is so finely drawn and The Sun, the Daily Mail and their friends online are doing their best to stoke up hostility between them.

Taking their lead, Theresa May was happy, prior to the election, to huddle down with a tiny clique of Tory right-wingers to pursue a radical Brexit strategy that took no account of the views of the 48 per cent who voted Remain and even, we can assume, the views of many who voted Leave.

We cannot go on like this, pitting right against left, young against old, city dwellers against country dwellers and liberal professionals against self-employed tradespeople.

Everyone seems to agree that Brexit is one of the most important decisions made by this country since the war. Then, why is it the view of the rest of Europe that we’re in a total shambles?

At this critical juncture in our history we need our political leaders to work together in a grown-up manner. We need transparent consultations with business, trade unions, the farming and fishing industries, and so on.

We need our Brexit negotiations run by a multilateral parliamentary group, so that the EU can see our position is both united and genuinely representative of the will of the British people.

And then, when the dust has settled, we need to re-review our political processes, and consider whether the first-past-the-post system is still fit-for-purpose and consider whether one of the options for proportional representation would be less divisive and better represent public opinion in the round.

PAUL ELLIOTT
Islington Green Party

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