Monday, 25 July 2016

Can More United make us more united?

A new political movement calling itself 'More United' prompts an obvious question: can it help make us more united? Because the eight-point programme from The 48 Movement aims to heal divisions in our country after the referendum result to leave the EU, we can try to answer that question by comparing them.

More United has five principles:

  • A fair, modern, efficient market based economy that closes the gap between rich and poor and supports strong public services 
  • A modern democracy that empowers citizens, rather than politicians
  • A green economy that protects the environment and works to reverse climate change
  • An open and tolerant society where diversity is celebrated in all its forms
  • A United Kingdom that welcomes immigration, international co-operation and a close relationship with the EU

Already we can see points of agreement. However, these five principles are not very specific - deliberately so, perhaps. Few people would disagree with them; but does that make them useful as a focus for unity, or render them close to meaningless because they are too vague? The fifth principle is probably the most controversial, as well as the most relevant to our own campaign, and I will consider it first.

The idea of being "welcoming" appears in number 3 of our eight-point programme, which says: "End free movement of labour from the EU (exempting Ireland), even if it means we cannot be members of the EU Single Market, and bring in a new system where EU and non-EU migration is treated equally, while ensuring the UK is a friendly and welcoming country." So there is compatibility on that.

The suggestion of international cooperation and a close relationship with the EU also features in the second of our eight points, which, after acknowledging that we will leave the institutions of the EU because of the Brexit vote, says we should aim for "a form of close association which keeps those things which we collectively value, including economic integration through trade, environmental and social protections, human rights, and cross-border cooperation on security and defence."

On closing the gap between rich and poor, mentioned in the first principle from 'More United', we propose we bring a more progressive spirit to taxation (point 4); avoid further cuts to public spending and instead invest in infrastructure (point 5), and accelerate devolution in a way which supports the "left behind" (point 7). On their second principle, about empowering citizens, we say we should keep social protections and human rights (point 2). On the "green economy", mentioned in their third principle, we say we should protect our environment (point 2) by maintaining environmental regulations (point 4). Finally, with regard to an "open and tolerant society" in their fourth principle, we emphasise the outward-looking, inclusive values of those who voted to remain in the EU (point 1).

Thus, with the caveat that the 'More United' principles are not enough on their own and will need to be attached to policies, we give them our support: the principles are in line with what The 48 Movement advocates. Indeed, we would like to see them adopting the policies from our eight-point programme.