The North-East is doomed – it has been for a thousand years. But does it have to be this way?

Originally published in Backbench.

1066 is an important date in British history. It was the year William the Conqueror landed in Hastings ready to wrench the throne from the deserving (and probably dashing) English King, Harold Godwinson. But this didn’t just initiate sweeping changes in landscapes and government. It launched Anglo-Saxon England into a turbulent millennia of North-South civil unrest which continues to this day. 

The North’s seething animosity towards its Southern counterpart is more than an extended response to the violent class wars of the 1980s. Margaret Thatcher and her band of ‘dry’ economic disciples no doubt ring-fenced Northern prosperity for decades to come and intensified regional-metropolitan divides. But her crippling of Northern manufacturing industries is less important than the fact that she felt this was historically and politically acceptable – and, as a matter of fact, ‘necessary’. Why is that?

Go back 1000 years, and we find her predecessor in Duke William II of Normandy. His ‘Harrying of the North’, which involved ‘wasting’ land in an effort to deter rebellious Northern lords, established a precedent. This was the strategic and ‘necessary’ depletion of the region’s population, community and sustenance in an effort to solidify centralised governance and consolidate Norman rule. 

A 1/3 of Yorkshire was declared uninhabitable as a result. This raid laid the foundations for an embittered Northern separatist movement that has ever since struggled to wrestle itself from the yoke of Norman London and its descendants.

As the South quickly ‘Europeanised’ through trade with modern-day France, the North was weakened and subdued. York, once a powerful political contender to London, was demoted. The Archbishop of Canterbury was made supreme, with the Archbishopric of York left flailing in the remnants of its former importance. Vital trade with Scandinavia was cut off. 

Today, the castles that litter the Scottish border and East Coast of Northumberland are relics of a Norman plot that drove northern communities inwards and stripped them of their autonomy.

Unbeknownst to William, this was not to be a temporary phenomenon: it condemned the North, and particularly the North-East, to a fated political subservience that has proven all-but-impossible to overcome.

The political consequences of the Battle of Hastings are still being felt today – even if historical impasses allowed for the temporary levelling out of regional inequalities. 

Almost 800 years after the Norman Conquest, a brief pattern of co-industriousness between North and South emerged during the time of the Industrial Revolution. Back then, the North fed the capital with its vast reserves of coal and enjoyed a prodigious, though short-lived, prosperity. But fast-forward to the 1980s and Thatcher’s brutal policies signify a return to normality: a vicious re-imposition of an entrenched North-South divide that politicians feel far more comfortable with. 

Stripping Northerners of their rights in the 11th and 12th centuries was a tragedy, but imposing inequality upon them in the 21st century has far more sinister consequences. Lower life expectancies, higher suicide rates, consistently high levels of unemployment, lower central investment on infrastructure projects and culture, less spending per person on education and transport, hardly any attention in the national media and next to no representation in political professions: these are all innumerable realities that pervade parts of Northern England without any justifiable cause other than careful neglect. 

It’s no surprise that the Confederation of British Industry estimates that the North-East region will be the hardest-hit under a ‘No-Deal Brexit’, or that government support rate to Northern councils is among the highest-cut in the country. This has simply become tradition.

Indefensibly, most governments view the North-South divide as a historically determined reality over which they have no control, obviating government obligation to reverse the decay and rendering it politically fatal to commit to doing so.  George Osborne gave it a feeble attempt with his ‘Northern Powerhouse’ solution, but this hasn’t materialised in any substantive sense. 

Democratic politics commonly consists of five-year cycles that leave little time to address regional disparity with any genuineness. Just like New Labour’s stint, which did so little to revivify the North during its time in power, Jeremy Corbyn’s plans to rejuvenate the High Street will equally fall flat without adequate funding proposals and attempts to create sincere power-sharing regional authorities. Simply preventing high-street bank closures is not enough. Theresa May’s assertion, meanwhile, that the North East will ‘not be left behind’ after Brexit is highly dubious.

Norman Tebbit – one of Thatcher’s closest aides during her time in government – expressed remorse at the way the Thatcher government treated Northern mining communities many years after the damage had been done. In 2009, he claimed that the enormous ‘devastation’ inflicted by closures ‘went too far’ – ‘with people out of work turning to drugs and no real man’s work because all the jobs had gone.’ There is no doubt, he admitted, ‘that this led to a breakdown in these communities with families breaking up and youths going out of control.’

Perhaps David Cameron and Theresa May will, in due course, express their own forms of nostalgic regret about the way their governments have slashed resources and investment for deprived Northern communities. But what good is this to those who have suffered at the hands of a recurrent insensitive elite?

An EU membership referendum and then supposedly ‘Delivering on Brexit’, will not, contrary to Cameron and May’s electoral logic, make the North feel adequately ‘listened to’ or represented by those in Westminster in the long run. It will not undo years of deliberate political devastation. We need a far deeper reassessment of the country’s fundamental regional power prejudices if we ever hope to emulate a civilised nation; starting with acknowledgement that regional disparity is anathema rather than an inevitable state of affairs.  If we fail on this account, it’s clear that the next millennia will unfurl in the exact same way as the last one. The North will remain doomed, and history will happily repeat itself. 

Why are MPs clueless about what the people want? Because they don’t represent ordinary voters

Originally published in Shout Out UK.

The Brexit impasse is maddening for ordinary voters who seek clarification and compromise from the British governing class — but it’s not the only reason the public is growing frustrated with their elected Members of Parliament.

In recent years, more numbers of women and candidates of ethnic minority status are being elected to the House. However, these promising signs mask the dark reality that ordinary voters have become increasingly voiceless in Westminster — and they’re getting pretty sick of it.

Latest government statistics reveal the full extent of this developing gulf between Parliament and its electorate in terms of educational and occupational background — which has inexcusably worsened since the 2000s. The 29 per cent of politicians elected in 2017 that attended fee-paying schools, for example, is over four-times the 7 per cent amongst the UK population as a whole.

Of the 82 per cent that hold a degree, 29 per cent have come from Oxbridge — a higher percentage than the total number of UK degree-holders (only 27.2 per cent). By way of comparison, over the period 1918-45, only 40 per cent of MPs belonged to the graduate class. Unlike then, apparently the ‘representative’ element of representational democracy is now optional.

Even within the Labour Party — the political grouping most committed to representing working-class voters — 84 per cent of 2017-elected MPs were graduates. That’s up from 59 per cent in 1979. In fact, the Labour Party is now almost exclusively run by public-sector or managerial professionals belonging squarely to the middle class. Jeremy Corbyn himself does not escape this charge, living out his entire political career in the prosperous suburbs of Islington North. Gone are the days when the party was buoyed by higher rates of regional miners, manual labourers, teachers, and non-university educated representatives. It appears that working-class credentials are simply tokenistic extras in a party-political system that relies on an educated bureaucracy.

There is a bleak conclusion to be drawn from all this — that the majority of Commons representatives share little direct experience with the constituents they claim to represent. This is not irrelevant: feeling adequately represented by your MP is precisely what distinguishes functioning democracy from an elective aristocracy in disguise. Members in representative democracies aren’t necessarily elected because they ‘know best’, but because they are typically one of the few self-selecting choices available. MPs need to avoid haughty presumptions that they understand their constituents’ needs better than they do.

The reasons behind this narrowing social distinction in the House of Commons are varied. One obvious issue of concern is the rising cost of becoming a politician. Recent estimates from The Spectator put the current price tag at a hefty £34,000 — on account of travel expenses, foregone salary and London living costs. Others are more endemic to Britain’s electoral system. For one thing, there are currently no requirements that MPs seeking election must represent the geographic region they live, or have lived in: amongst voting constituencies in the 2016 referendum, only half of MPs did so.

London in particular is over-represented in terms of the MPs it produces — resulting in their inevitable migration elsewhere. Even if well-intentioned, the absence of affinity between local constituents and migrating parliamentary candidates can lead to a breakdown of trust in the representative system. In short, these ‘migratory MPs’ are often viewed simply as university-educated political employees serving their constituents on a superficially contractual basis. The community they represent is emphatically not ‘theirs’, and as such, there is no genuine connection between member and voter.

The consequences of this pattern are becoming increasingly evident as the Brexit debate plays out. It is widely reported, for example, that Labour’s ‘grassroots’ favour pushing for a second referendum — with a view to Remain in the EU. However, using grassroots in this context is erroneous — since only the Labour membership backs a second referendum and is stringently pro-Remain. Seventy-one MPs have backed this commitment in a signed statement, while half a dozen came out in public support of the People’s Vote policy hours before Parliament’s no-confidence debate. Given that 6/10 Labour MPs represent Leave-voting constituencies, acquiescing to the demands of the membership alone would be electoral suicide. There is a widely held sentiment in Leave areas that politicians are refusing to take into account the expectations of their constituents. It isn’t surprising, therefore, that many life-loyal Labour voters are now considering voting Conservative if only to guarantee Brexit.

Ultimately, unless politics is democratised — by introducing higher pay, stricter representative requirements and an emphasis on suitability rather than educational and occupational background — the Brexit saga will continue to effectively wrestle control away from Parliament through violent and dangerous means. As certain individuals respond negatively to the perception that they are being ignored (recall ‘Soubry is a Nazi’ outside Parliament!) — the possibility of violence is growing more immediate. Politicians need to swiftly take stock of the breach of faith between themselves and their electorate before the recent barrage of verbal vitriol explodes into something far more sinister.

Don’t be fooled – the ‘Migrant Crisis’ is fake news in action

Originally published in Shout Out UK.

Over a thousand asylum seekers have crossed the Channel from Northern France to British soil since November 2018 … or, at least, this is what our  Home Secretary would have us believe. According to Sajid Javid’s most recent pronouncements, the landing of 239 asylum seekers on UK territory between November and January warrants a ‘crisis’ level political response. This is no doubt part of his increasingly self-delusional efforts to assume leadership of the Conservative Party — we should ignore him completely.

Sea-borne Channel crossings have increased in very recent years: our Home Secretary is not wrong about that. Increased border security at Channel ports has made lorry-smuggling more difficult, while the dismantling of the Calais refugee camp in 2016 by French authorities has been followed by an increasingly bureaucratic French asylum-seeking procedure. Amidst tales of French police brutality and the perceived absence of a feasible alternative — which is becoming more acute in the run-up to the UK’s EU withdrawal on March 29 — handfuls of predominantly Iranian, Afghan, Iraqi Kurdish and Eritrean asylum seekers are resorting to making the precarious Channel crossing by boat.

However, it’s worth noting that the Home Secretary’s perspective is painfully limited and misleading — these figures, for example, are nothing on the numbers we’ve witnessed historically. Rather, the ‘Channel Migrant Crisis’ is a warped manifestation of a seriously flawed UK migration policy: a final maturation of the increasing criminalisation of asylum our nation has witnessed over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

This is a tradition that began with the Aliens Act of 1905 — and its full offering of migration control powers over to the Home Secretary. It is a tradition that then rallied behind the expatriation of Jewish refugees despite Hitler’s assumption of power in the 1930s, and blatantly discarded Commonwealth Migrants automatic citizenship rights in the 1970s by conveniently forgetting the British record of brutal colonisation overseas. It is also one that has consistently turned a blind eye to the horrific conditions of asylum seekers in detention centres nationwide, as well as violations of their basic human rights. More than anything, this is a tradition that has become legitimised and indeed expected in the aftermath of 9/11 and now Brexit.

Even on a short-term political timescale, the number of recent crossings is far smaller in holistic terms than the numbers of migrants attempting to enter the UK between 2015 and 2016 as stowaways. It is also negligible when compared with the number of refugees crossing the Channel by dinghy on a yearly basis. The Government’s annual immigration publication states that in the year ending June 2018 the UK issued only 14,308 grants of asylum. This figure is down 12 per cent compared with the previous year.

Furthermore, Javid’s suggestion that this specific wave of crossings is being perpetuated not by ‘genuine’ asylum seekers but ‘illegal economic migrants’ is unnecessarily dehumanising. It turns oppression into a subjective matter that can be dismissed at will. His comments are dangerous: if asylum seekers can be so frivolously reconceptualised as ‘illegal migrants’ without any due procedure — what’s to say the Government’s conceptualisation of mental health, domestic abuse and hate crime victims won’t also suddenly change when it seems politically convenient?

Media coverage isn’t helping the situation either. A string of BBC News headlines have simply reiterated Government press releases without nuance; placing titles like ‘Five migrant boats rescued in English Channel‘; ‘Major incident declared over migrant boats’; ‘Two held over English Channel migrant crossings’; and ‘Royal Navy sent ‘to prevent migrant crossings’ in Channel’ alongside emotionally stimulating images of boat crossings over the Christmas period. Instead of evoking pity, this coverage has had an expectedly paradoxical effect. The boats harbouring ‘migrants’ — and never asylum seekers — have become potent symbols of lax border control and an apparent dearth of British patriotism among politicians. They are cannon fodder for the far-right.

Katie Hopkins, for example, in a ruthless Twitter video that has amassed over 500k views, recently brandished the Government’s asylum-seeking policy as overly generous, suggesting that the UK Government ‘advertises’ a collection of cushy provisions for refugees that draw such individuals away from ‘safe countries like France’. Hers is an inaccurate sentiment, irresponsibly and reprehensibly fostered by Javid. Though provided with shelter and a tiny cash allowance to pay for food and toiletries (which is totally acceptable and an essential basic human right), asylum seekers housed on the Government’s dispersal scheme end up in cheap, sub-standard accommodation in the counties which can least afford it. More asylum seekers are housed in Stoke than the entire South East, excluding London. Their situation is anything but enviable, both here and in France. And what’s more — affluent Southerners like Javid and Hopkins need not even interact with them. Their vitriol against asylum seekers is purely political and ideological.

Of course, national media outlets are occasionally including realistic portrayals of the so-called ‘Channel migrant crisis’ — only the caveats are usually located half-way down an article; buried among detailed recaps of Javid’s ridiculous rhetoric. ‘Channel migrants: UK and France to step up patrols’unfurled one BBC headline on the 30th of December. ‘The UK and France are to step up joint patrols and increase surveillance to tackle a rise in the number of migrants trying to reach Britain in small boats,’ read its opening paragraph. This suggests — again, misleadingly — that a recent migrant-spike justifies increased action.

But delve deep enough into the article, and another angle emerges, like some sort of Easter egg in a film: ‘Compared to the number of refugees seeking asylum in the UK every year, the number who have attempted to cross the Channel by dinghy is tiny’. In other words: the ‘Channel Migrant Crisis’ is a figment of Javid’s imagination; and a nasty attempt to turn desperate people into scapegoats and audiences into victims of Government manipulation. Next time he’s on a holiday in South Africa, he should do everyone a favour and just stay put.

 

Anti-Brexit group publishes report on ‘Real Agenda of the Brexiteers’ marking a new low for People’s Vote campaigners

Originally published in Shout Out UK.

The student-run anti-Brexit group For Our Future’s Sake has this month released an exposé on the ‘real agenda’ of the so-called ‘Brextremists’.  Featuring a series of decontextualised and out-of-date comments spoken by Conservative politicians, the document attempts to demonstrate a ‘categoric’ imperative by Brexiteers to overhaul the NHS, destroy workers’ rights, reinforce sexual inequality and decry environmental protections — all under the guise of leaving the EU. However, the unsubtle attempt by FFS to vilify those on the political right showcases the hard-left’s equally explicit political agenda: that of overturning Brexit at any cost.

While morally denouncing the Brexiteers’ politics as part of a regressive, ‘backwards’ agenda, For Our Future’s Sake conveniently overlooks its own self-serving political ambition. The report, entitled ‘The Real Agenda of the Brexiteers, presents to its readers a handful of provocative and selective declarations made by Conservative politicians — some over 20-years-old — that seemingly validate FFS’s demands for a People’s Vote.

Chris Grayling, we are told, argued that national minimum-wage requirements should not apply to those with learning disabilities in 1998. John Redwood, meanwhile, undermined the scientific proof of human-induced climate change in 2008. Ten years later, in 2018, Tory Peer Lord Ribeiro questioned the usefulness of EU workers’ directives that protect employment standards and wages. Boris Johnson, in 2002, floated the idea of a privatised NHS as being ‘greater appreciated’: Daniel Hannan, on the other hand, scandalously suggested in 2009 that the NHS didn’t ‘work’ at all.  Jacob Rees-Mogg, more recently, is revealed to have said he could ‘not care in the least’ about ‘chlorinated chicken’; and Andrea Leadsom, in 2016, restated her view that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

The statements, when read holistically and out of context, serve to create an overall image of Conservative Brexiteers as radical megalomaniacs bent on destroying basic human rights. According to the report, Brexiteers — in which Theresa May is included — all see EU withdrawal as the ‘vehicle’ through which right-wing social and economic agendas can be discreetly enforced. The idea of an ominous, conspiratorial, Brexiteer presence depicted by FFS is an ironic one: it exists as a disturbing mimicry of Brexiteers’ own portrayal of the EU in the run-up to the 2016 referendum. This time, a few comments about the NHS and minimum wage have transplanted memorable case studies about bendy bananas and ounces and pounds. ‘Brussels’ Elites’, in the report, has been substituted for ‘Brexit Elites’.

In actuality, the ‘real’ nasty character traits of Brexiteers, as the public know them, are not their right-wing views (which, in a functioning democracy, the politicians are entitled to), but their misuse of words, facts and figures in a deliberate intention to mislead — remember the £350m on the side of the bus? Unfortunately, FFS’s catalogue of quotations attributed to Theresa May between 1998 and 1999 do just that. They misrepresent her current political stance and proven track record in order to spin a certain narrative.

The report alludes to numerous comments made in 1998 and 99, where May stated that the EU Social Chapter could be a ‘burden for business’ and suggested that many employers cannot afford to implement it. The report then claims, that in the Prime Minister’s ‘own words’, she has therefore attacked workers’ rights — and this makes her one of the right-wing, Brexit ‘crony’ elites. Unfortunately, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone entertaining this view after May’s most recent vote of confidence result. It’s clear that disgruntled Brexiteers made up the large part of the 117 Tory MPs that cried ‘no confidence’ in their leader.

As recorded in Hansard, and re-quoted in the report, the PM is noted to have said the following on the 28 April 1999:

‘The impact of employment legislation, particularly the loss of income for pre-schools caused by the loss of numbers, is exacerbated in a variety of ways by the increased costs of the minimum wage and the working time directive’.

In the report, this is followed by the words: ‘The Prime Minister has called the minimum wage costly’, without any effort to contextualise the quotation. When evidence is presented in this way, it has no persuasive force. It looks as disjointed, randomised and opportunistic as something Boris himself would come out with — and flaunts the same underhand techniques that Brexiteers are often degraded for.

FFS itself is guilty of Brexiteer-like arrogance by dismissing those individuals who voted Leave for genuine, and valid, reasons.  Despite 70 per cent of Labour constituencies voting to Leave, and only 47 Labour MPs voting against the triggering of Article 50 in 2017, the report’s foreword, signed off by David Lammy and Caroline Lucas, argues that opposing Brexit is an ideological obligation for those on the political left.

Likewise, the organisation claims to give ‘young people across the UK’ a chance to ‘stand up and be counted’. However, since the movement was founded at the NUS 2018 Conference with a specific ‘agenda’ of its own — to bring about a People’s Vote — it has turned a blind eye to the non-university educated portion of young people in the UK today. These are individuals that have had little opportunity to endorse or reject FFS’s political goal. Even if you voted to Leave, FFS encourages you to see that choice as misguided and reversible.

‘Whether we voted Leave or Remain, this is not the future that young people want or expect for themselves. We [of FFS] have a responsibility to stand up and make our voices heard, for all our future’s sake’.

Those that did vote Leave, which was 29 per cent of under 25s, are dismissed and patronised:

‘This document shows categorically what we have always known — that Brexit is led by the right, of the right and for the right’.

Pushing aside Brexit voters as right-wing political cannon fodder, rather than acknowledging their feelings and views, is irresponsible and elitist — no less so than the ERG’s desperation for no-deal. However abhorrent that cadre of Conservative politician is, the statements recorded in this document do not in themselves invalidate the Brexit result, upon which the revocation of freedom of movement was the predominant concern held by people of all ages — including young people.

Ultimately, rather than helping ossify unilateral conviction among opposition MPs that Brexit must be abandoned and shelved; the ‘Real Agenda of the Brexiteers’ report has done little other than prove that hard-left Remainers are as obstinate as those they so vehemently criticise. Their political ambitions, much like those of the Brexiteers, are part of an effort to prevent national unity and consensus under a narrow and singular aim. Their desire to overturn Brexit — often against their constituencies’ wishes and the public tide of opinion — is as damaging as the Brexiteers’ ambitions to push through Brexit by whatever means necessary. I’m not sure which is worse.

Young people want a ‘new kind of politics’ in post-Brexit Britain but the negotiations are out of their hands

Originally published in Shout Out UK.

The much-anticipated LSE report commissioned by the All-Party Parliamentary Brexit group has arrived, chaired by Labour MP for Aberavon, Steve Kinnock. Famously a Remainer with a passion for democratic youth engagement, the report is decked-out with recommendations that will ensure a ‘youth-led’ Brexit — or, at least a Brexit where young people are consulted and not patronised.

Titled ‘Building Bridges: A Youth Vision for a Common Future after Brexit’, the London School of Economics report has arrived amid a hectic few weeks of Brexit developments. Commissioned by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Better Brexit for Young People, this latest instalment in the Brexit saga explores youth perceptions of the EU withdrawal process amongst both EU and UK nationals. Its conclusions are unequivocal, although hardly revelatory: young people across Britain and the EU ‘urgently desire a new kind of politics’ — one that ‘can build bridges over the many divides’ that Brexit has wrought across the country.

Current chair of the APPG is Labour MP, and outspoken Remainer, Stephen Kinnock. Speaking ahead of the report’s launch at the Common Futures Forum on November 20th, Mr Kinnock lamented Brexit negotiations that ‘have failed to take account of the views of young people both in Britain and Europe’. ‘Young people’, he argues, ‘are tired of the acrimonious political debates that have dominated over the past two years and desire a future that is built on cooperation and consensus’.

Looking solely at the report’s findings, Mr Kinnock has a point. The proportion of young people that felt their generation’s views over Brexit had been taken into account is worryingly low — a meagre 36 per cent — while testimonies from focus group participants explicitly label Westminster politicians and EU leaders as out-of-touch ‘elites’ that disregard youth welfare. It is a vision of the youth disillusioned with the ruling parties’ undying preoccupation with aggressive political debate, inflammatory rhetorical exchanges, and the exclusive concerns of an older generation of voters. This popular sentiment, as Kinnock argues, comes on the back of Conservative policy developments that attack young people specifically: the tripling of university tuition fees, cuts to the state education sector, the capping of child benefits. Not to mention the impenetrable housing market and Brexit-related job insecurity.

Yet, the closer you look, the less the report lives up to its billing as a ‘kick-start’ to building a better Britain. Mr Kinnock’s call for ‘a European Economic Area-based Brexit’ smacks of Remain — and Labour — inclinations and desires. The report’s conclusions are bleak, but familiar — and in many ways risk exacerbating Britain’s divides, rather than helping close them up. Its touting of a Brexit ‘Generation Gap’ risks quantifying generational resentment already prevalent in politics, and vilifies an older generation apparently besotted with EU immigration, Brussels bureaucracy and loss of British ‘national sovereignty’.

The caricature of the older voter is genuine to some extent, and the report specifies that young people are worried that this image of Britain — a regressive, bitter nation ready to denigrate the EU institution at ease — will be the one that is remembered on the continent for years to come. This could potentially imbue all future EU-UK relations with animosity and suspicion, which is not something that British or European youths will be thankful for. Perhaps the report’s most radical suggestion of all — a renewed call for freedom of movement — raises concerns about whether, in the turmoil of the last two years, the APPG has forgotten the origins of Brexit altogether. They are offering the ‘young people’ a set of suggestions based on impracticality and quite frankly, infeasibility.

Further questions about the report’s methodology will ensure that few heads in Cabinet take its findings seriously. The report admits that in its search for respondents, its staff ‘specifically sought out young people who are likely to be most immediately affected by the new relationship’ — a sincere effort at objectivity that is outstandingly blind to its categorical one-sidedness. Likewise, surveying a mere 1000 people (double the number of its focus group), the report’s sweeping generalisations lack legitimacy. Throw in its penchant for metropolitan opinion, alongside a swollen interest in Scotland, Ireland and Wales (all were pro-EU), and you begin to wonder whether these findings are quite as democratised as Mr Kinnock would have us believe.

A notable positive is that the report’s long-term recommendations are more fruitful, offering a radically re-conceived vision of a future Britain. They target early years interventionism, providing political literacy and civic education, and envisage methods for reconnecting urban and rural communities. However, these ideals of tomorrow do little to allay the immediate concerns of today. The report makes no attempt to discern the nuance in British ‘youth’, failing to address how issues such as state benefits and university attendance might influence one’s political outlook. Consequently, far from giving Britain’s youth a voice, its conclusions fall foul of homogenising their views.

Mr Kinnock is insistent that the report represents ‘a more productive commitment to listen, understand, engage, and find the common ground’. That may yet prove the case, though he will have to be more thoughtful about whom he is listening to, and — hard thought it may be — less impulsive in his politics. Only then might we begin to forge a common future after Brexit.