So what about the future; where are we going to be and what are we going to do to get there? We are still going to need to cooperate, trade and deal with worldwide issues. Consecutive governments have been more than happy to work with countries with less than great human rights records; previously Saudi Arabia and currently China. In a democracy the government are always representative of the people on a world stage. If we can pick and choose our friends, then are we going to be simply pragmatic or have a moral compass reflecting the people of the country? A more representative government and parliamentary system is long overdue. Personally, I favour PR.
The first instance of external cooperation on a large scale needed may well fall on electricity production. There are plans for a European wide electricity grid, something that can be achieved and may well be very beneficial. In the UK we have an abundance of sources of potential power, beyond the dwindling North Sea fields(1). But securing electrical supply for the long term is a requirement of a post-fossil fuel world. Anthropomorphic Global Warming or climate change is quite likely to change the shape of the planet as we know it. As temperatures increase, areas such as Norfolk are likely to become flooded(2). Planning not only for power but for safety and the long term with an eye on changing technologies is going to be hard to juggle for short term thinking governments we elect. Ongoing plans which aren’t dropped but seen through to best of each government’s ability could change our outlook and ability to deal with world changes. Unfortunately, anyone who has any experience of government IT systems(3) or remember the Millennium Dome, know that the government of the hour may not be necessarily good or fair in their execution of their duties. The word execution is making my wife smile a little too much(4).
Speaking of troubling; what about the troubling history of our continent? We’ve managed to live in relative peace for some time now; it needs to stay that way. In Part II the rise of nationalism was mentioned. The prospect of violence in Europe is coming from a multitude of sources, none of which we’re immune from in the UK. Terrorism such as in Paris and Orlando aside from any potential political or ethnic based conflict. The UK is a peaceful place, aside from the town centre on a Saturday night. The likelihood of homegrown violence was unlikely up until the recent murder of Jo Cox MP. Bursts of outrage and group think at perceived outsiders is not the sign of a healthy mind, nor a healthy country. Either someone like the murderer should have been provided with the mental care he required or our society is not doing a good enough job to ensure we continue to live in peace. The NHS and caring in our society needs renewal; if the claims about leaving the EU were true we should be looking to strengthen our society through healthcare and renewed social housing. There is a generation facing living at home with their parents due to house prices(5); to the dismay of house owners and mortgage payers everywhere, this does need to be addressed. It is not fair to restrict access to homes, to be able to settle and make a life.
Although our generational problems are no way near as stark as those of Japan; we do having an aging generation for which care provision is going to become a major issue. Hospitals already have problems releasing patients to safe, convalescence homes causing less availability of bed space(6). It is also becoming apparent that we are not providing enough school places for a large generation of children(7). Public services are a mainstay of this country and something everyone of every political persuasion generally feels proud of. But they are becoming chronically underfunded now(8); where will they be in future generations?
What will be the tax and economic burden of the country? I’m no economist so I won’t even speculate.
“The mistake I made, he thought, going back in time, was not to have plenty of seeds, a different packet of seeds for each pocket; pumpkin seeds, marrow seeds, beans, carrot seeds, beetroot seeds, onion seeds, tomato seeds, spinach seeds. Seeds in my shoes too, and in the lining of my coat, in case of robbers along the way. The my mistake was to plant all my seeds together in one patch. I should have planted them one at a time spread out over miles of veld in patches of soil no larger than my hand…”
J.M. Coetzee, Life and Times of Michael K
This isn’t going to be one of those things we look back in hindsight and say “Oh if only we’d…” It’s too important for that. There is a chance it could go utterly wrong; recriminations and spit flying everywhere. On the other hand, we might be able to make something good from this. As I said, let’s not make a mess of this please.
And with that, it’s over to you Nigel and the speech we’re going to be hearing on repeat for the next 20 years:
(2) – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/environment/globalwarming/4957830/Rising-sea-levels-from-global-warming-could-wipe-out-Norfolk-Broads.html
(4) – Call the police if I don’t post again!
(5) – https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/07/revealed-30-year-economic-betrayal-dragging-down-generation-y-income
- Fixed wifely revert to a draft. Get her cat!