When the Prime Minister launched this election from the steps of Downing Street, she asked all parties to ‘put forward their proposals for Brexit’.
What has transpired overnight is that this has not in fact been the Brexit election, but the social justice one.
A year ago the CSJ asked that people scratch beneath the EU referendum result to understand the social drivers that underpinned it. People voted on the EU because it was the question they were asked, but their motivations were often as much social, financial, and personal as they were questions of global alliances.
And it is these same concerns that we have heard in recent weeks from our conversations with Parliamentary candidates on the doorsteps, and from our Alliance of poverty fighting charities. What people want to know is how the future Government will build a stronger society. How will we improve schools in our poorest areas? How will the NHS function? How can we ensure the right jobs and training? In short, how can potential be fulfilled?
The political parties that receded last night, both north and south of the border, did so because they did not make their battles over social policy ideas clear enough. And whilst there was heat, there was little light. It was this, we believe, that drove the vote.
In the coming days, politicians will need to do some politics. There will be bartering, alliances, shuffles, and appointments. That is not the CSJ’s concern.
What is our concern is that whatever and whoever emerges listens to the voices of the poor and the excluded.
This is the mandate for the CSJ’s existence and so it is our job to support the Government in putting it at the heart of their work.
To that end our work continues. In the coming months, we will be publishing a raft of policy proposals tackling social issues across the political spectrum. We will look at:
• The future workforce, regional disparity, and national productivity to ensure we have the jobs and training we need for the future.
• The role of referral units and alternative providers in education, ensuring no child is left on the margins of our system.
• How to strengthen couples and family ties to tackle one of the true root causes of social disadvantage, shamefully absent from recent political narratives.
• Ensuring that childcare provision is accessible, fairly distributed and of decent quality.
• Reviewing the creaking justice system including rehabilitation, our prisons, and women’s centres.
• Tackling childhood health and the obesity epidemic.
Anybody serious about governing must sit up and listen, not because we are saying it, but because it is the voice of the electorate.