What does work after a really bad General Election result is to hold the Government fiercely to account, to expose its lies, to take on and challenge each and every one of its damaging policies and to offer a carefully thought through and attractive alternative. It also helps a lot if you are able to put together a collection of capable people with a coherent message that is forward looking.
The current situation is very much the same. I have fought hard and long for Remain. To the point where I was prepared to stand next to the Conservative MP I tried to defeat in May 2015 and make common cause with him on arguing with voters on the street. We both got a lot of abuse for it but we also both persuaded quite a lot of people that when folk with such different visions were saying something was a huge mistake it might not be a conspiracy to make them afraid. It might be that the fears are real.
I still would prefer to stay in the EU. But none of us can elect a new public. Millions of people voted out and expect that vote to be respected. Anyone who relies on a strategy of simply telling them that they didn't know what they were doing is highly unlikely to get them to change their minds and adopt more positive policies.
So the best way forward is to accept that out means out and then to start articulating what kind of out we want and fighting fiercely against the type of out we don't want. I don't want an unelected extreme Tea Party government lead by Boris Johnson with Michael Gove as Chancellor negotiating a reactionary fantasy exit. I want to see the things that I believe in and my values strongly championed in any negotiations and I think the views of the 48% who voted for something more positive also have a right to be respected.
I think the best way of doing this is to challenge every attempt to forget all the good things that were promised during the campaign and to insist that they must be delivered. We've been told that the economy will securely grow and the country won't suffer any serious disruption during the period of negotiations. I don't think they can achieve that but I won't be trying to do the country down and encourage the EU to punish us. I will be pointing out any contradictions, reminding people of what was promised and laying the blame for any mistakes on a complete absence of a thought through UK exit strategy.
We've also been told that there will be more money for the NHS, more school places, proper subsidies for UK farmers, secure workers rights, and an end to austerity. Indeed it suddenly seemed that all those privileged right wingers were actually anti establishment campaigners who sincerely wanted to deliver better lives for the poor. I now expect them to be true to their word and to deliver that. For the avoidance of doubt what I really mean is that I think they have not the least intention or ability to deliver or to stick to their promises but we must never let them or the voters forget what they said.
I think if we approach things this way and put forward a strategy for the UK that really does deliver prosperity - such as investing in future green technology and skills - then it won't be long before those who voted exit get very angry indeed with those who are betraying them.
What happened time and time again during the exit campaign was that right wing politicians energised people to believe that all their problems were going to come to an end because someone was finally going to challenge the elite who had ignored their needs and punished them for the bankers crisis. At the same time the bulk of the remain camp failed miserably to win hearts and minds because Cameron's approach was that the experts knew best and the public jolly well ought to listen to their betters or it would end up the worse for them. I think for once those experts were telling the truth but I also think this is a very stupid way of delivering the message. Even more stupid when you have spent 6 years telling people you hate the EU and 6 weeks telling them it really is a very helpful thing. The SNP did it differently. They put forward a passionate championing of the EU. They won. The Greens also had a good campaign because we argued that 'Another Europe Is Possible' out of genuine belief and conviction. People have started joining us in droves because of this.
What I want anyone who hates exit to do now is not to campaign for a re-run of the plebiscite. I want us instead to get back on the front foot and put positive proposals for the way forward. I don't want to cede control of exit to some very nasty and deluded people. I want to see concrete alternative proposals that stand a chance of working articulated with the aim of protecting people from the worst of the carnage and trying to win genuine improvements. Dianna Abbott from Labour has been saying the same thing. Anna Soubry from the Conservative Remainers has also articulated a very similar strategy. This is not about abandoning a belief that exit was the wrong thing to do. It is about coming up with an effective way of fighting in new circumstances.
It is possible if we fight this way that sometime down the line large chunks of the public will start to say "You know what - these folks who promised they could fix everything with an exit were talking bullshit." If that happens in enough numbers then there may be a moment to fight for a second referendum in which the actual real terms of a leave are put to the UK public. People have, after all, only voted on promises of what leave will be like and they might wish to vote on the reality before it happens.
But until that psychological change happens please let's not empower our enemies by giving them the easiest of ways of destroying a lot of our arguments. No one ever won hearts and minds by being the "sour grapes" party. Plenty of serious dodgy politicians have been completely taken apart by the simple tactic of saying "you promised us this - but you delivered something completely different." So I won't be signing any petitions to re-run the referendum. Instead I will continue to try and fight intelligently for the things that I believe in to be implemented in a post exit Britain. I will also be trying to destroy the credibility of those who think the rest of the world will buy more of our products and services because our new leaders wish it to be so but haven't got any strategy for improving those products and services. I don't think that is going to be desperately difficult to do!