Tina Stowell Associates

Transfer of power to the people – get used to it politicians

October 3rd, 2016 | Posted in Uncategorized

In a couple of tweets earlier tonight I tried to make a point about Brexit and how critics of the process to leave the EU could be perceived by the public. But it’s not always easy to be clear when you’re working with 140 characters. So for the sake of clarity, my point is this:

The whole process of the referendum has changed the order of decision-making and that’s the kind of change – a transfer of power from politicians to the people – that those who voted out were trying to achieve, and even more people now rather like.

Yes, on 23rd June people voted to leave without knowing precisely what they were getting. But they were clear in their instruction. And, quite properly, they placed responsibility on the politicians to interpret and implement that instruction.

Now at the moment we know little more than #brexitmeansbrexit. Businesses in particular are anxious to know more. But I get the feeling the people are content with just the certainty of exit and will remain contented whilst Theresa May keeps taking an orderly and nicely paced step-by-step approach. It is true that the Prime Minister and the Government face a massive challenge of getting Brexit right and the risk is they will fail to meet the people’s expectations.

But right now – and until and unless Theresa May fails to succeed, and I think she might well pull it off – the bigger risk sits with the critics. And that’s because the decision to come out was not Theresa May’s, it was the people’s. It’s true that responsibility for how it is done and what is achieved sits with the Government and they will and should be held to account for that. But any comment or criticism that seems to undermine the Government’s enthusiasm for getting this right on behalf of the people will be counter-productive. This tweet from Ed Miliband is just the kind of thing that will grate: it’s mealy-mouthed about what’s likely to be achieved and therefore sounds like he’s criticising the people who voted for out for being stupid.

52% of people voted for #Brexit, but even more people would have voted for a “transfer of power to the people” if that had been on the ballot paper. Yet, in reality and for the moment at least, that’s what it feels like they’ve got and it feels good. So what politicians have to understand is that far more than 52% of people won’t like hearing politicians who can’t get used to the idea of having to take instructions instead of telling us what they want. By all means scrutinise and challenge the Government, but don’t challenge the decision that has been taken to leave and do get behind making it a success.