There's always more to lose

Inequality in Britain is greater now than at any time since the Second World War.

Rocketing rewards for those at the top, diminishing prospects for those in the middle, increasing poverty and insecurity for those at the bottom.

In normal times these things would be laid at the door of our own parliament.

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Instead many voters will go to the polls on June 23 believing they’ve been deprived of something they once had and blaming membership of the European Union for their loss. Their sense of deprivation may be based on fact but many of the solutions they wish for are fantasy.

However disenfranchised, ignored or patronised by successive governments they feel, they should try to imagine being governed by a triumvirate of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Iain Duncan Smith.

How likely are these leopards of the unfettered market to change their neoliberal spots?

No doubt they’d be grateful for the votes of the disenchanted. But to dedicate themselves to the task of improving the lives of those they’ve hitherto mostly regarded as fodder for the further enrichment and empowerment of the rich and powerful? I don’t think so.

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The forces bearing down on ordinary people are related to the rhythms and crises of global capitalism and its geopolitical fallout.

The EU, which is only one part of this system, was set up to provide sufficient prosperity within a framework of law and civilised conduct to make it unlikely Europe would return to the barbarism of the previous century.

This project is in danger of coming apart at the seams.

The choice facing us is one of destruction versus repair.

The notion that the pooled sovereignty of the EU can be replaced by absolute national sovereignty is illusory. Britain’s foreign policy has been for decades largely determined by America’s interests and its economic policy skewed by multinational corporations.

The best we can hope for is a government willing to deal with the negative aspects of globalisation (including the effects of economic and other kinds of migration), especially in those areas blighted by industrial decline and neglect.

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Solidarity within and between groups and nations or the theatre of the perilous absurd exemplified by Trump and Putin? Soon we’ll be deciding which future we prefer.

Those who intend to repudiate the EU and all it stands for, and who believe they have very little to lose by doing so, are in danger of discovering a painful truth (one that could hurt every person in Britain who lacks the shock-absorber of wealth). There is almost always more you can lose.

Kevin Hanson

by email