Drama in English politics

Turmoil in both the main political parties in England has spiralled upwards this morning with Michael Gove’s decision to release himself from supporting Boris Johnson to strike out on his own as a contender for the Tory leadership. What with Labour Party MPs yesterday voting no-confidence in their own leader, Jeremy Corbyn — and he refusing to step down — means that both parties are taking government into new levels of confusion.

All this has been tripped off by the Referendum vote last Thursday because the vote was more than about immigration or Pariiamentary sovereignty or feelings about the EU. The very high turn-out — far higher than in previous elections for MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) — means that it contained a protest vote about the political system itself. That it isn’t doing the job it is supposed to. That there is a high level of distrust in politicians. That the political system is broken and needs repairing.

All this sounds dramatic but it won’t play itself out anytime soon. Underneath, there’s a big historical change taking place. In the advanced countries, the Industrial Revolution (IR) is subsiding into a more professional personal service type of economy.

The IR will continue to surge for a decade or two in China and maybe in India, Brazil and possibly one or two more countries but that’s about the limit unless energy production and use were to multiply several fold. A lot more evolution (more specialization) and devolution (more lateralization) needs to be going on yet. What makes this unique is that, unlike all previous historical changes, we — some of us, anyway — are conscious of what is going on and why.

[P.S. As I was writing the above, I learn that Boris Johnson, hitherto the public’s favourite by a countryside mile, has now decided to resign because he has insufficient support from fellow Tory MPs.]

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