The commonest complaints I got were:
1. I can't get a doctor's appointment. I have to tell my GP two weeks in advance if I intend to be ill.
2. My kids don't have a chance of getting on the housing ladder and they can't get a council house for love nor money. Where are they supposed to live?
3. There aren't enough places in decent schools and our kids are being forced to go to places that we don't like.
4. They're building housing estates all over the place and its going to wreck the place where I live
5. My kids have just come back from University and have taken on a fortune in debts but they're really struggling to find worthwhile well paid reliable employment.
6. You used to be able to earn a decent living around here. Now there's nothing but temporary contracts on zero hours and the town centres full of charity shops and pawn brokers.
7. Whenever I go to London I see lots of building work going on and loads of money being spent. How come none of that gets spent near where I live?
8. There seems to be plenty of money for bankers but none at all for the things that I need.
Often, frighteningly often, there was none of this complexity or reasoned discussion. Everything was distilled down to one simple emotional statement. Too much immigration. When you questioned or discussed the issue it very quickly became clear that the majority of people who were saying this didn't actually really mean EU immigration as such. They meant something much more worrying. They said they "didn't like all these Muslims coming in and taking over the country". They meant they didn't like any Muslims regardless of where they were born.
If we are to avoid that really unpleasant side of popular opinion from dominating it is going to be really important that the other concerns are addressed. Regardless of the wisdom of the exit vote it is very clear that the 17 million people who voted exit are going to expect something pretty fundamental to change and for it to happen quite quickly. The 16 million who voted to Remain aren't exactly jumping for joy either. So what does this mean for UK political parties?
It certainly doesn't seem to me to mean that people are crying out for a further dose of extreme free market austerity politics. A great number of Brexit campaigners clearly wanted that to be the outcome and periodically started talking honestly about rolling back the state and getting rid of all those pesky workers rights and agricultural subsidies. But most of those folks were kept well away from the media and instead the campaign promised the opposite. There would be an end to austerity. The NHS would get more money. Regional subsidies and farming subsidies would continue and would be more effectively targeted. There would be more money for school building. And the economy would boom as we suddenly started to be able to trade with the rest of the world.
In the face of these massively raised expectations even Osborne has decided that preaching the merits of austerity and balanced budgets isn't going to win the Conservatives the next election. They have to deliver actual improvements to the economy as experienced by ordinary people in their pay and conditions and ease of living. They also have to deliver actual improvements to services rather than soundbites about why the latest re-organisation is better than the last one. Finally they have to deliver equality in investment per head across the country that can be seen by voters in the region to be clearly underway and starting to make a difference.
It seems to me that all of this is going to be virtually impossible for the new Conservative government to achieve if it sticks to the ideology that has driven it for the past 40 years. The only thing that is capable of responding to the very real concerns that exist is conscious planned interventions by the British state to influence and support British business, government services and regional infrastructure. That doesn't sound like the kind of thinking that either Leadsom or May would recognise as helpful or be able to get past their party conference. I believe the next PM is going to be faced with a really difficult dilemma. Do I disappoint the country or disappoint my party?
The progressive forces in the UK have rarely had such a golden opportunity. The things that ordinary people are asking for are the very things that the right can't deliver but a determined plan implemented by people who are not scared of constructive local, national and international government actions could. The right have been handed everything they ever wanted with the Brexit vote and it is rapidly turning to toxic dust in their hands. A wafer thin majority for exit is being undermined every day by reality. We may well be looking at the most vulnerable Conservative government ever. Even by John Major's standards.
In these circumstances all that is needed is a coherent well organised united opposition offering a coherent and constructive set of policies. I leave it to readers to decide for themselves whether the Labour Party is capable of offering that and what the price will be of its current machinations.