Whatever people's views are on the Brexit debate- leavers and remainers, everybody I've talked to is agreed on one thing - the manoeuvrings in Parliament, stoked up over the last month by the media and an intransigent EU has left everybody with an increasing distrust of political motives. Which is a real shame - I have known committed politicians from all parties who have worked hard for their own communities - for little or no reward.
This article is not about Brexit per se, but the impact of political behaviour.
Last year I had a long conversation with a leading local government politician who lamented on the inability of local government to deliver major infrastructure schemes due to public opposition and an inbuilt distrust of politicians. If you look around the country very few councils over the last 10 years have now delivered game-changing infrastructure projects and those with vision to try to do so have become mired in controversy. Many of the Clean Air Zones - referred to in last week's blog are struggling, new road schemes are still on the drawing board and major housing schemes continue to opposed- despite a national housing crisis.
In the modern, connected world delivering major schemes is proving difficult and last week in Parliament will not make it any easier. Unfortunately, the fallout from the Brexit divisions and parliamentary manoeuvres may be felt in local government for decades.
Social media means that anybody, especially well organised protest groups now have the platform to push their views - not all of them constructive. The growth in social media and the media click baiting with salacious headlines to gain advertising income just compounds the problem. I have had to challenge offensive comments about local politicians on social media and in the press from those with opposing views who say terrible untrue things - simply because they can.
There is an increasing role for local Government to dampen down the anti- political feelings, to promote the many great things that the government sector does- despite the lack of funds and austerity. Public sector comms teams have always produced creative campaigns that change lives. Congratulations to @NHS Digital for their Campaign of the Month- #JusteReferrals for doing just this.
Local politicians need to continue to be brave and champion the difficult schemes. The worst that can happen is for councils to take the path of least resistance.
The Brexit debate is about who we are and what we want for our country. At the core of this, is a local government sector that is close to the people. The challenge is to build engagement and trust- particularly on controversial projects. I want local government to continue to be brave. The Brexit debate continues.