Localism is Best?


Imagine a group of countries, each with varying histories and cultures (some linked, some not), each with distinct economies (some developed, some not) and each with their own domestic concerns. Is it wise for them to follow the same monetary and social policies as each other?

I posed this question on Twitter to a follower group of a left/liberal bent. 85% of those who answered thought it was not wise. I thought the same. It is the reason I voted for Brexit and the reason I support it still, but the question stretches further, beyond Brussels to reach to the heart of how we do politics at home.

A democratic choice is one made by the people it affects – a simple principle, but one that rarely applies. Efforts to thwart the wishes of 17.4 million Brits, each one determined to decide the future of his or her nation, make that clear. Add in the conflicts that arise between local and national concerns, political parties prioritising their own interests, MPs doing the same as individuals – our democracy does not represent the men and women who form the backbone of our society, those whose graft makes Britain a place worthy of being called our home.

It is a waste. Ordinary folk, men and women who understand their villages, towns and cities know what is best. Their hard-won experience is an incalculable asset that cannot be matched by politicians distant in geography and outlook. Working people have the local knowledge and the skin in the game to transform their communities and with them our nation as a whole, but they are locked out of the decision making process.

Society is at its strongest when it utilises the skills and experience of those who make up its number. People from all walks of life can energise politics, but they need a real say in how society is run. Give them a stake, and they will repay that faith with common sense and hard work – the way folk do when they have the tools and the opportunity to help themselves.

Brexit is a revolution of the local, a demand our governing elites have tried their best to ignore. It cannot end with exit from Brussels. It must shake Parliament to its core. Power devolved to the regions, those who make decisions drawn from a cross-section of society, no MPs sent to London until they have lived and worked in their constituencies for five years, tax-breaks and incentives to bring investment to rural areas and those in need of regeneration: there will be many ideas to shape our post-Brexit future, but the pressure to implement change, to make Britain truly democratic must come from below. The fight for Brexit has shown that. If it does not, Britain will continue to be dominated by the elites of Westminster – a betrayal of 17.4 million voters as severe as reversing the referendum.

Eight out of ten people who responded to my initial question could see the one-size-fits-all approach of the EU is misguided. We cannot repeat it once we are free. Local, bespoke and representative of the views of working Brits is the only way to thrive as a country and as a democracy. It is common sense, something a sovereign nation needs more than anything else.

Phil Deeks is a writer based in Cheshire. He creates prose and poetry inspired by the art and ideas too often abandoned by his peers. He is a passionate advocate of democracy and common sense. You can find more of his thoughts on Twitter.