That working-class world, with its solidarities and its exclusions, its sources of pride and power and its cruelties, was of course demolished during the 1980s. Economic and social liberalism swept away the old order. If you were gay, female or black, that was in many respects a cause for celebration. But the 2010 encounter between Gillian Duffy and Gordon Brown showed how spectacularly the Left failed to attend to the fall-out in its own heartlands.
Free movement should be about the interchange of people and culture. 0.5% of the UK population (about 300,000) emigrates each year. If these are simply replaced by people moving to the UK, there is no net migration, no increase in population. The problem in the UK has been rapid population growth, not migration in itself. Only with a balanced economy across Europe can free movement become the positive force that it should be, once again.
It is often claimed that the EU is founded on the principles of Catholic Social Teaching. But one of its central tenets is that labour is not of its nature a mere commodity, to be bought and sold at will. It is human. And that applies not just to workers who are mobile but to those who are settled in communities, struggling to make ends meet for their families. Human beings have rights, feelings, obligations and aspirations.
William Beveridge, who was fundamental to the founding of the welfare state in 1942, described charity as ‘like a golden thread through the living tapestry of our national story’. The tapestry is somewhat tattered today in the aftermath of the vote to leave the European Union, and the national story somewhat fragmented, perhaps literally if Scotland holds another referendum on independence.
Wales is a nation which has historically been perceived to be pro-EU, reaping large economic benefits and development grants from Brussels. Yet last week Wales delivered a 52.5% vote in favour of Leave.
The total betrayal of the people around the issue of migration in the Brexit campaign (In and Out alike, as both campaigns are responsible for not having planned, for not having explained how migration works) glares as we contemplate the paradox of the four migration scenarios that are facing us now.
We have yet to find ways to share the values of progressive internationalism with a wider audience. Understandably, we focus on those we know will respond, but in doing so organisations run the risk of re-inscribing marginality, deliberately or not. Deliberately focusing attention on certain sets of people leaves many people overlooked and disengaged. And we can't be surprised by this.
The Brexit vote has proved a real watershed moment in UK politics. It has made visible deep divisions within and between communities and substantive differences in the way we think about our interests and goods. However, this vote was a complex rather than a simple phenomenon, and it will take us some time to understand its implications for our future: local, regional, national, continental and global.