The vote to leave the EU represents an anger directed against a British establishment that has enriched the few at the expense of the many. Now its the task of the British left to mobilise around a transformative politics that provides an alternative to the reactionary narrative of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage.

EVEN WHILE HE was signalling his intention to resign, David Cameron still didn't comprehend what had led to his political demise. In his speech outside Downing Street, being described by the mainstream media as 'statesman-like', he referred to some of the major 'achievements' of his government. He talked of a prosperous economy and the reforms that his government has implemented.

When in 2010 Cameron took possession of 10 Downing Street, his government introduced a plan to eliminate the budget deficit. 'We're all in this together' was the government's catch try.

But the reality is that the British people have not all been in this together. Any economic prosperity has not been shared. Last year it was estimated that some 20 million people were living under the poverty line. That's one in three Britons.

These appalling figures were exposed in the largest ever survey done of poverty in Britain by economist Stewart Lansley and academic Joanna Mack. They published the results of their work last year  in the book Breadline Britain: The Rise of Mass Poverty

But the level of poverty and deprivation has been exacerbated by the government's austerity policies. And before any one sheds a tear for poor old Dave, its worth noting that his government had pledged to cut 12 million pounds from the welfare budget by the end of this term. Lots of benefits including those that assist with housing, were frozen in April. These were the reforms that Cameron told Britain he was proud of.

Meanwhile Britain's rich have continued to get richer. Since the 2008 recession their wealth has more than doubled.

Is it then any surprise that those who have not seen any benefit from Cameron's 'prosperous economy' and have been on the receiving end of his government's 'reforms', chose to retaliate and blow him out of the water?

The largely London-based commentariat, who mostly report on conversations and debates occurring within the political elite, didn't see the blow coming either. They too, like the financial markets, were complacently predicting a win for the Remain camp. If there is a fundamental disconnect between Westminster and the people it claims to represent, the mainstream media's consistent failure to give voice to concerns of ordinary people without first packaging them in terms acceptable to the political status quo, has also been exposed.

It has been the chauvinistic nationalism - and straight xenophobia - of  people like Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage that has given voice to the anger directed at the political establishment. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had the difficult task to try to combat the casual disinformation and fear mongering of the Leave camp. But his principled and pragmatic position of 'staying in Europe to reform it' held no sway against the scapegoating of immigrants for Britain's woes and empty promises like the supposed 350 million pounds being sent to Brussels each week being diverted into under pressure health and welfare services. Already the Leave camp are backpedaling on this promise.

Corbyn, for his troubles, now faces an attempt by the Blairite right to topple him as Labour leader for being supposedly 'half hearted' in his support of the EU. This is an unprincipled challenge being mounted by unprincipled people.

In  Breadline Britain the authors say that Britain is ".. on the wrong road. We need a change in political direction, we need transformative politics of the type that we saw in post-war Britain.”

We can agree that Britain needs a transformative politics but the vote to leave the EU means the right will think it has a mandate for a renewed set of attacks on workers’ rights, environmental protections, migrants and freedom of movement. I don't think  that many  Leave voters will consider this is anything like approaching "getting our country back".

It will be up to the British left to assert a bold progressive politics for real change. If people voted against economic policies that were working only to enrich the few at the expense of the many, then it is up to the Left to provide the alternative narrative to the reactionary one being offered by Boris and Nigel.


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