IT was the morning after the night before when it became clear that Britain had voted for Brexit. All David Cameron’s ‘Stronger In’ staff were in the Hope Bar, at Smithfield Market, in London. They’d been drowning their sorrows for hours.
At 8.30am the BBC was on the pub TV, reporting from Downing Street on Cameron’s resignation. Four butchers from the market walked into the pub – their overalls blood spattered from their toils. Somebody commented that it seemed appropriate. After all, there had been a political assassination.
In July of last year in this very column I said: “Let’s deal with Posh Boy Cameron first. He hasn’t even had the decency to apologise for one of the biggest political blunders in history.
“This, a referendum that didn’t need to be held which, in reality, was Cameron’s political gambit to prevent permanent revolt on Europe in his own Tory Party.” He paid the price.
In “All Out War”, author Tim Shipman, reveals that the then Chancellor, George Osborne, argued with Cameron that he didn’t need to push the referendum button early.
In fact Osborne told Cameron he could delay to 2018. Then when Cameron failed to get his deal on immigration from Europe, Osborne again argued for a postponement.
On the night of the count, when Sunderland voted by 61% to 39% for Leave, I thought then for the first time that the game was up.
It ended up being a triumph of lies over truth – remember the £350m a week for the NHS, taking back control, or the certainty of getting our own immigration controls and being in the single market at the same time?
As the writer Alan Bennett noted then, about the only lie that Boris Johnston hadn’t told was that if we leave the EU the weather will be better.
So why did Brexit happen? History will blame Cameron deciding to gamble the farm and losing all.
But transcending that is the revolt of the lost legions of the working class whose lives are lived in permanent austerity.
Their anger did not miss its chance to make the political establishment pay for its lies, its disdain and above all its neglect of their communities.
And before we blame the English working class alone, we should remember that more than a million Scots voted Leave.
Nonetheless, Glasgow has taken the view that we are where we are and we have to get on with it. I was delighted at the State of the City Economy conference, in November, when the Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, described the city’s Brexit report as the best produced by any city in the UK.
The report is a true partnership effort by the City Council, the Glasgow Economic Leadership Board and the tireless Chamber of Commerce.
It makes a strategic analysis that Brexit confronts the city with huge challenges but that these can be overcome, particularly if the Scottish and UK governments take the right policy decisions to help.
Next week, we’ll be making the case to Mike Russell MSP, the Scottish Minister for Brexit.
If the impact of Brexit is one of the great challenges facing Glasgow the other will be the city’s 2017 budget. For the tenth year in a row the City is facing another round of cuts where the Scottish Government seems to be hell bent on Glasgow taking the biggest share of the misery.
The final figures remain to be settled but local government in Scotland will have some £300m less to spend on services this year than it did last year. All the spin doctors in the world cannot hide that reality.
The spectre of poverty still haunts Glasgow so, before concluding, a note on Christmas past for the Junior Football Clubs of the West of Scotland.
Most of them put on free Christmas dinners for the less well off, the older folk and the homeless of their local communities. Well done indeed!
Now alas some goodbyes. Goodbye to David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Prince and most recently George Michael. Goodbye to Ronnie Corbett and Terry Wogan. Goodbye to The Greatest in sport, Muhammad Ali. And perhaps most poignantly of all, goodbye to Jo Cox MP.
All things considered I’ll be glad to see the back of 2016. And I haven’t even mentioned Donald Trump.
I wish you and your families all the best for 2017. Let’s hope it’s the best of times.