Remember, remember, the 12th of December
The day that changed British politics forever
Today was once again a very sad day for me and I suspect for many others.
It has been exactly two years since the last UK General Election, when almost 14 million people chose to send Boris Johnson to Downing Street with the largest Conservative majority in more than 30 years.
The day that started one of the most corrupt governments in British history, brought a serial liar to the highest office in the land, and determined the country’s exit from the European Union on terms badly negotiated first and then partly disowned by such a man.
That day in 2019 I spent in Milton Keynes campaigning for the Labour Party, as indeed I did throughout that campaign, hoping for an outcome that in retrospect appears to have always been unattainable.
That day was a sad day for me also for another reason.
Exactly three years ago, on another 12th of December, there was the launch of a campaign in which we put so much of our energy and enthusiasm, hope and passion, sweat and tears.
A campaign designed precisely to change the outcome of the General Election.
It was called Take a Break from Brexit and it was Diem25's campaign on Brexit.
DiEM25’s leader Yanis Varoufakis supported it initially but sadly then changed his views on Brexit and decided to abandon it.
We were asking for time to heal the country's divide on Brexit. Time for a better democratic process.
We were asking Labour and progressives to prepare for the European election that was going to be held in May 2019.
That election offered an opportunity to change the narrative and the course of Brexit.
Sadly, progressive forces were divided and Labour effectively chose not to campaign.
Was Labour's failure to engage with that election important?
It certainly triggered many of the political processes that contributed to the ultimate defeat on 12th of December, 2019.
Understanding what happened in Britain in 2019 matters and not just for history books. It’s about understanding the grim reality of current British politics.
I therefore owe it to the people who fought with me in that campaign to tell its story. I owe it to the memory of Rosemary Bechler who did so much for that campaign. She sadly passed away a few weeks ago, prompting me to revisit what we did together to promote a progressive process capable of bringing together leavers and remainers.
It’s going to be difficult for me to do it. I will need to delve in arguments of political theory and insights from cognitive psychology and game theory. I will need to relive complicated memories. Most significantly for me, it will require a personal journey through events that made me feel hopeless for a long time.
Yet I feel compelled to write it as in many ways it’s a story that goes way beyond me. It’s a story about Labour's strategic failure on Brexit. It’s a story about the rise and fall of Corbynism. It’s a story about Yanis Varoufakis and his influence on British politics.
Our campaign was demanding more time to understand what to make of Brexit. Telling its story will also require time.
I will publish it in separate installments, starting from the time when I first met Jeremy Corbyn, back in 2015, up until my resignation from DiEM25, in March 2020.
I will need feedback, both from people who witnessed the events that I took part in, and from people who have different perspectives on my take. It would be very meaningful to me to exchange ideas about the events that I am going to narrate.
If you are interested in reading this story, please leave your email here as I only want to share it with those that are interested. You will receive it in separate chapters over the next few weeks and months. I wish you well, please stay safe.