There are two types of call for unity. One is recognition that it’s essential, with everyone involved doing their best to find common ground and a constructive way forward. The other is an insistence that dissenters should fall in behind the ‘party line’, one example being that the British People have decided we are leaving the EU, and all who disagree should now be silent, and just ‘get on with it’ whilst those in positions of political power make the decisions.
Always the optimist (ask anyone who knows me), briefly on Thursday, and Friday I hoped that the Tory party might now opt for the first type of unity, and find a way forward, drawing on all the available talent. Things have rapidly changed, and the Great Leader might well re-emerge. Unity, as before, may once more be portrayed as a matter of falling in behind him.
Over the next week until the new Prime Minister is chosen we’re going to try and post at least one blog a day, for our own sake, rather than anyone else’s. This will be to try and metabolise our own intense feelings on the issue, and make something constructive of them.
We also have a faint hope that this might be part of a groundswell across the country, about everyone contributing to a broader debate, that’s perhaps going on inside all of us, and between us and our friends and family . This is about the fundamental meaning of democracy. Democracy is more than about the occasional popularity poll for choosing between autocrats. It’s about a plurality of voices, and about us having representatives that can listen to all points of view. We all need to find our voices on the things we believe, and try to engage others in debate about these from positions of mutual respect. It’s about trying to think under pressure, rather than fall back into tribal divisions.
Against the background of profound shifts in global economic and military power, and with the effects of our leaving the EU bloc now bedding in, the country is now fighting a proxy war in Ukraine. There will be multiple hardships, most immediately due to shortage of fuel, and other vital economic necessities, and the disruption of supply chains we took for granted – even if we do not sustain actual physical damage ourselves, which is not beyond the bounds of possibility. It was chastening a few weeks ago to see the US president’s warnings of Armageddon appear way down the bottom of the news agenda. Unity will be essential – but of what sort?