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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Why allegations of cheating by Vote leave doesnt change anything

It may be that I am growing cynical in my old age, or it could be that having been freed from the artificial gravity of the Cardiff Bay bubble and spending more time with 'real' people I just have a different perspective on things, but I am having real problems getting het-up about the latest revelations about data manipulation in countless elections.

It is not that I think that it doesn't matter, it does. If is absolutely crucial that for the public to maintain confidence in the democratic system all parties stick to the rules and don't try to buy success through the sort of manipulation we are now reading about daily.

On the other hand, if you talk to the man or woman in the street, not only is this subject low on their list of priorities but in many cases they will not see what the problem is. That is not because they endorse cheating, it is that they thought that politicians and their assorted hangers-on had been doing this sort of stuff for ever and a day, and that this is just one more instance of somebody being caught red-handed.

In other words, the reputation of politics and politicians is already so low that nothing surprises us anymore. It is a damning indictment of our democratic system and one of the main reasons why people voted for Brexit in the first place.

I have no more idea than the next person how we reverse that trend, except to prove them wrong through hard work and honest endeavour, because, yes, I am still a politician. But what is clear to me is that even if it were proved without a shadow of a doubt that Vote Leave had bought the referendum result through cheating, that disclosure would not change most Leave voters minds on whether we should leave the EU or not.

Important as it is to expose malpractice (and in doing so of course, reaffirming most people's cynical view of politics and politicians), we need to win hearts and minds by exposing the folly of the referendum decision and the impact it will have on people's lives and the UK's standing in the world, rather than obsess over process.

Brexit will raise the cost of living, it will add to child poverty, and it will hit our ability to produce our own food as a result of tariff barriers, a weakened pound and labour movement restrictions. It will leave the UK isolated in the world and at the mercy of the likes of Donald Trump for status and trade deals. And it will cause thousands of people to lose their jobs as companies relocate back into the EU and London loses its status as one of the financial capitals of the world.

Those are the consequences that will make people sit up and take notice. The only question left then is whether it will be too late to do anything about it?
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