I expect this to turn out to be highly problematic for UKIP. A narrow victory for staying in would have been immediately followed by a fresh campaign to get us out and a further injection of arguments that there was a simple cure to all our problems, which could all be traced back to the existence of the EU. A narrow win would have been a hollow victory and we'd have been left with a far right that was continuing to grow in popularity and to make inroads into national opinion by promising that they had the perfect solution to our problems.
Instead the narrow victory for exit means that the out camp now have a real problem on their hands. They have promised a great number of things to a great number of people. Now they have to deliver. So the housing crisis has to go. The wait for a GP appointment has to go. The economy has to improve. Farmers have to keep their subsidies. Workers and women have to keep their rights. But all those pesky regulations have to go. And, of course, all those immigrants have to go. The gap between the rhetoric and the reality will now start to be exposed.
The majority of the country believed the argument that the extraordinarily wide alliance of people who warned that leave would damage British interests were engaged in a "project fear". The majority decided that there really wasn't much to worry about and the good times were just around the corner. The establishment were all in a conspiracy to protect their own positions and couldn't be trusted. This conspiracy was pretty wide ranging. It involved the last four Prime Ministers, the TUC, the CBI, the Labour Party, most Conservative MPs, the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, the Scottish Nationalists, Plaid Cymru and the Bank of England. Instead of believing their endlessly repeated warnings the public decided to trust the brave anti-establishment figures of exit.
As the reality of implementation begins to bite it will become evident that these strange allies weren't all scare mongering. The value of the pound really did drop on the first day. As a consequence the price of petrol and supermarket goods really will go up. Investment in British firms really will drop and jobs really will go. There really will be months and years of messy negotiation and we really are likely to find it somewhat harder to sell to our major export market.
We have been promised that any problems of this kind will be temporary but we needn't worry because the rest of the world will want to trade with the fifth biggest economy. If that doesn't happen then a lot of people are going to start to be cross with the new establishment. In my experience most people only buy goods and services from abroad when they are cheaper, better made and offer interesting innovation or design. They don't tend to buy them because some politicians on the other side of the world has declared that the goods come from a proud independent nation. How long is the patience of the British public going to last when the sudden surge in our sales abroad doesn't happen?
We are therefore likely to be faced with some very disappointed and angry voters. Some of them will head even further right and we have already seen just how horrible this can be with the political murder of Jo Cox. The best way forward for those of us who have a different vision of the future is now a very simple one. We have to state clearly and strongly the positive alternative vision of the future that we hold. We have to find a way of not just grudgingly accepting the decision to exit but of turning it into a positive.
For me this means reviving a concept that I was very critical of throughout the campaign. We have to construct an alliance for a positive exit. If we are going to make our own decisions then let's start arguing for ones that take us forward. I believe that the world is on the cusp of a major change in technology as we move away from oil driven economies and into low energy products and services. To stand any chance of being at the front of this new industrial and social revolution we need to invest in modern skills and modern technology. If we leave it to the free market alone to make this change then we will fall behind countries like China or Dubai that are using a successful mixture of state planning and private enterprise to make sure their employers are well placed to succeed. We therefore need a strong planned drive to invest in the latest science, technology and skills and this is going to need an active intervention by the British government.
It is time for the left to start to use some the tactics that have worked so well for Farage and the far right. They took on the establishment with a vision of the country being proudly independent and successful which was based on little more than wishful thinking. They are now the establishment and that thinking is about to be shown to be empty rhetoric. So we now need to take on the new establishment and show that Britain can indeed be great again. But only if it recognises how the world is changing and creates the skills and the technology that are going to be needed in that new post oil economy. Only if it has a seriously thought through economic and social plan designed to modernise and transform the economy.
The young people of Britain voted solidly for an optimistic inclusive society which gets on with the rest of the world. In the deeply uncertain political and economic climate that the country is now entering the best way of facing down the reactionary mood that has been set in train is by contrasting it with the opposite. We need to clearly articulate our strategy for creating a modern scientifically successful country that is ready to face a radically different economic environment.
Our vision of the future has one big advantage over the UKIP vision that narrowly succeeded this week. It actually works. And as their vision unravels we must never cease to assert our positive alternative.