The Parliamentary term ended in sweltering heat with many of us wondering what the hell just happened. In the space of less than a month a Prime Minister who was enjoying reasonably good approval ratings was gone, the country has a new Government (albeit from the same party) and new foreign and economic policies. Theresa May established herself as the new Prime Minister with a powerful performance at Prime Minister’s Questions and then set out on a tour of our nearest and dearest European neighbours where she looked and sounded the part. Meanwhile Her Majesty’s Opposition announced plans to nationalise medical research (think about that one), condemned choice in public services and got stuck into an increasingly bitter leadership election. A powerful voice close to Mr Corbyn declared that MI5 were behind attempts to undermine him. In 1989 Francis Fukuyama wrote about what he called “The end of history”. It doesn’t feel like that now.
When you analyse it, what happened with our referendum fits into a pattern across western democracies. The rise of parties that challenge the established order in Europe and the rise of populists like Donald Trump are just two examples of what one diplomat told me is a “global spring”. The so-called Arab spring was, he claimed, only part of a wider malaise with politics. OK, understood; so what do we do about it? Politicians need to accept that most people feel insecure. Whether it is stagnating pay, the sense that they might not be able to afford their rent or mortgage at some point or just the lack of power they have to counter global economic forces, all of these are some of the root causes of this insecurity. Add Jihadist terrorism and the migrant crisis and you can understand the prevailing mood. The difference now is that such is people’s dissonance from politics and politicians, there is no margin for error. Mrs May must instil into every Minister the need to deliver on our promises - and to be seen to do so. If she is going to succeed in the bold ambitions she stated on the steps of Number 10 she will need to get runs on the board in quick time. One upside: politics is cool again. Everywhere you go people want to talk about it. West Berkshire Conservatives have increased their membership by over 200 in the last three weeks. Keeping politics cool, in every sense, is something to strive for.