Tuesday, July 12, 2016

An open letter to the Rt Honorable Theresa May, Prime Minister and all Members of Parliament of the United Kingdom

We haven’t spoken before, but I believe that I am typical of many British citizens who feel the past few weeks have been a nightmare and we still haven’t woken up. People like me have typically been less than fully engaged with politics and politicians, especially with the many, many reasons we have been given to distrust you over the years. That said, I have voted in every general election since I was 18 (predominantly Labour) and voted in the referendum (Remain).

In recent weeks we have witnessed what appears to be the breakdown of normal(!) rational politics and have been left watching as our countries political leadership, for the two main parties at least, has imploded. It’s more like an episode of Yes Minister or the Thick of It than reality. But the final straw for me came today when I heard on the Today programme that you believed there was no need for a general election as you had a “clear mandate” from the people.

 I beg to differ.

 Hindsight is a wonderful thing and the following matters have become clearer in recent weeks:
  • The Chilcot report has made it clear that for a Prime Minister to take important decisions without clear cabinet discussion, consideration and support is inadvisable - yet you have declared your position and way forward without even appointing your cabinet, never mind discussing these issues which will impact generations of your voters.
  • It appears common consensus that the Referendum vote was deeply flawed with both sides misleading and blatantly lying to the electorate, resulting in a narrow victory for Leave.
    • The fact that all prominent Leave campaigners have now withdrawn from the process of enacting what they were campaigning for and their inability to follow through with their campaign, clearly calls into question their motivation (if not their morals and political judgement)
    • Post Referendum polls and anecdotal media coverage have highlighted that significant numbers of people who voted leave, now regret it, either through misunderstanding the consequences of their actions or disbelief at the lack of planning by both the Leave camp (and the Government) for a successful Leave campaign
    • It is also clear from the 4+ million people who signed the Petition for a second referendum if the difference in vote was too narrow, that such a narrow victory should not be binding. There is sufficient precedent from other countries that such an important decision, should be contingent on a larger majority and a minimum turnout. Throw in the fact that unlike the Scottish vote on independence, 16 and 17 year olds were not given the vote on this issue and judging by the actual votes cast by the younger generation, it is a matter of mathematics not politics to easily call into question the value of the Referendum result.
– yet you state Brexit is Brexit and we have to make it work – there is no legal obligation to move forward with Brexit and a strong opinion, such as 1,000+ legal experts who state that Parliament should be given a vote on the issue.

 Finally, if we look at more recent events regarding the leadership of the Conservative party and Labour Party. You have bene elected leader of your party and Prime Minister in waiting, based on 199 votes and this has been approved by the 1922 committee. How do you reconcile this decision with the fact that when Gordon Brown took over as Labour leader from Tony Blair, in a similar leadership contest, you stated very clearly that he had no democratic mandate and called on him to call a general election. 

The Labour party is similarly in disarray with it’s incumbent leader Jeremy Corbyn still in situ, despite a vote of no confidece by the parliamentary Labour party and is seeking legal guidance regarding the forthcoming leadership challenge to see if he can stand without gaining sufficient support of his own MPs. 

I hope you can understand why, we, the voters, feel deeply dissatisfied with our political leaders right now. 

 To summarise, I would like you to put yourself in our position, very soon we will most likely have: 

The Government
  • A Prime Minister and leader of the Conservatives, voted on by 199 people – that’s about 0.0004% of the c46million people that were eligible to vote in the Referendum 
  • A new cabinet, personally chosen by you, making compromises as to your choices to try and bring together your party with the long running deep divide over Europe 
  • A stated objective of moving forward with Brexit, without giving your cabinet an opportunity to discuss it and the power to act upon it using the Royal Prerogative 
The Opposition
  • Probably a newly elected leader, hopefully voted upon by the current party membership, which will be c500,000 by the time the poll happens – about 1% of the 46 million. 
  • A newly elected Shadow cabinet, again chosen making compromises as to choices to try and bring together their party with the long running deep divide over Europe 
The People 
  • An “unclear mandate” from less than 50% of the adult population of the UK, even smaller if you give credence to recent opinion polls 

In conclusion, if it’s not too much trouble, I think the moral route forward is to do the following:
  • Call a general election for September to give sufficient time for the new political leadership to settle in before campaigning starts 
  • To call on all parties and candidates to make a clear and unambiguous statement regarding their position on Brexit and Article 50 
  • Add a new referendum question to the ballot paper – but with a clear statement as to the required percentage of vote and turnout to add validity 
  • Allow 16-18 year olds to vote 
 We will then, hopefully have a Prime Minister and elected party (or coalition) with a very clear mandate from the electorate to take the important next steps on this journey we have started. 

Also, just as a last thought, next time we have such an important decision to take as a country, leaving it solely in the hands of people who voted for Boatry McBoatface is probably a bad idea…just saying.


 ~ Dave Mutton 

 p.s. Disclosure - I just joined the Labour Party today, specifically to vote in the upcoming leadership election, but also because I’ve considered taking a more active role in politics for a few years and recent events have compelled me to start down THAT journey – who knows where it will end.

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