Mrs May has gambled, but the country has lost

Election 2017 logoOh dear, what a mess. What an awful mess. And to think I just wanted it all to be over so that we could get some certainty and just get on!

In my last post I said I thought that anything could happen and, blow me down, it has. The country has given the establishment a bloody nose and frankly they (we?) deserved it. When, oh when, are we going to start listening?

Today all eyes are on the prime minister who has gambled not just with her premiership, but with the country’s future, and has lost. It would appear that a consensus is forming within the Tory party that Mrs May should carry on for now, but if she lasts the weekend it will only be because it is too difficult and unseemly to have a leadership election just at this minute, and the alternative doesn’t bear thinking about. But if I were her I would be voluntarily hanging up my kitten heels: her leadership is essentially over, she has no legitimacy to remain in Number 10. And it looks as if her place in history will be far from what she wanted.

But this is not about the future of a woman, it is about the future of a country.

And, deep deep sigh, it looks like we are facing another election before the end of the year.

We (I am not sure who I mean here, but those-in-charge, whoever they/we are) need to get out there and seriously start listening to the communities that feel so left behind. I just do not believe that UK citizens wish to be relegated to mere consumers, suffused with righteous entitlement as to what are their just desserts, but with no beliefs or underlying value system.

You know, I really believe the British public would respond well to a grown up debate about social care, or even (dare I say) immigration, were such a thing ever to be put on offer. It is time to get real. We know quite a lot about this stuff actually, the future of social care is well understood, at least fiscally, and there are plenty of brave people who have got their heads around immigration, with no hint of racism (and you only have to look at Louise Casey’s brilliant work on opportunity and integration – or her previous report on troubled families come to that – to start to offer at least some of the answers to some of our more intractable problems). But we seem to fight shy of any calm and measured debate about the facts.

We need a healing force. We need some real leadership. We urgently need to find a new political paradigm.

But right now, the uncertainty continues. Oh boy, does it continue. It is uncertainty squared. All of us who were seeking long-term stability, those who simply want to get on with things, can find no solace. And that paints a bleak picture for our industry, just as we were beginning to rally. Long-term infrastructure projects, such as HS2 and the third runway, look far more uncertain than they did yesterday. Those of us seeking planning permissions will struggle with local authorities who will exploit the uncertain climate as an excuse to not make decisions, while applications already in train will get caught up in the politics of short-term opportunism and populism. And Gavin Barwell is the most tragic loss to this nation as housing and planning minister.

Britain has been an uncertain and bitterly divided country since last June. We should not have had that daft referendum; as Grayson Perry said, subtle, emotional, philosophical and spiritual questions are too important and complicated for a yes or no answer, and what we’ve seen in the past few hours only serves to demonstrate this. We desperately need a unifying and inspirational leader to pull us out of this bitter mess and into that new paradigm. Somebody who embodies consensus and inclusion and who embraces consulting and listening. Like most people, I suspect, I am struggling to identify anyone right now.

The country has spoken. But, as I said before, this is NOT about the future of Mrs May, this is about the very future of our beautiful nation. The stakes could not be more high.

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GENERAL ELECTION 2017 Click here for the latest developments and read full analysis of the fallout here