BRENDA from Bristol became an internet sensation on the day Theresa May called the 2017 election. “You’re joking. Not another one!”

Her response reflected a widespread exhaustion with politics in the post-Brexit period. She went viral because people thought politics was part of the problem, rather than something that might create a solution.

The next snap general election in 2019 had many of the same themes – and this time the Conservative campaign rode the wave.

“Get Brexit Done” was an ­anti-political message promising that the election of a Conservative government would put the disputations of the ­previous four years behind us, and allow a rapid ascent into the “sunlit uplands” of Brexit Britain.

The electorate couldn’t get enough of it.

So Keir Starmer’s announcement that he is going to follow the “Big Three: ­Attlee, Thatcher and Blair” peacetime British prime ministers of the 20th ­century comes as no surprise.

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While his obvious affection for ­Thatcher is what has grabbed the ­attention, he clearly intends to make ­politics go away. He is promising not to turn on the taps of public spending, he wants to continue the Westminster ­Brexit consensus, however damaging, and he is determined to deny Scotland a say on its constitutional future.

Starmer’s intervention comes at a time when change could not be more needed. The Labour leader offers no change – he goes well beyond that to the point of wanting people not to think that change is possible, we will have “securonomics” rather than politics.

The Break Up Of Britain? ­conference, of which I was one of the organisers, brought together people committed to making that change a progressive and democratic one.

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Our guiding light was Tom Nairn (above), the Scottish political theorist who died in January this year. We named the ­conference after his most famous book – adding a question mark to make it clear how live the question is at this moment.

Speakers from England, Wales and ­Ireland joined a range of artists, thinkers and doers from Scotland to chart a way forward, and the result was invigorating, exciting and the start of something new.

Nairn’s insight was not that people should agitate for the break up of ­Britain, but rather that the unyielding and ­outdated structures of the British state contained within them the seeds of their own destruction. For those who want the UK to survive, the country must shape up or it will break up.

So, while Kenny Farquharson in The Times characterised it as a ­conference aiming to “break up Britain”, what we were looking at was how Britain is ­breaking itself up.

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By refusing consent for a democratic referendum in Scotland, by ­undermining the peace process in the north of ­Ireland and by insisting that there can be no ­reform to outdated structures of the ­British state like the House of Lords, the momentum for change will only grow.

Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, gave the finest political speech I have seen in person, describing how the capture of English identity by the political right creates an existential threat to English politics.

Her vivid description of an English ­history that focuses on radical ­movements from the Diggers and the Chartists as much as it does on Churchill and Nelson offers a way to reclaim English politics from ever-rightward radicalisation.

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Those who want to make politics ­difficult, to dial up division in the hope that the public will retreat and leave ­decision-making to them have a very ­particular agenda. It is to protect the wealthy, to reinforce the power of ­ancient institutions and to ensure that there is as little action to address the great ­challenges of poverty and ­inequality or the climate breakdown.

We are living in a world increasingly destabilised by gross inequality and ­climate breakdown. Both mean a more chaotic world. And that chaos will cause yet more chaos.

The war in Ukraine and the pandemic are inextricably linked. Putin’s ­isolation and the unpopularity of his Covid ­response influenced his ­decision to ­invade. The long drought in the early 2010s fuelled the rise of the Islamic State.

And however much Starmer wants the world to go away, he has been made very aware recently in Glasgow that he ­cannot simply wish away the actions of other states.

While he may wish to impose a ­hybrid Thatcher-Blair ideology as the UK’s ­political status quo he will fail because of the centrifugal forces Nairn pointed to, and because the world is very different to 2005.

So what is to be done?

While it is tempting to abandon politics, to give up hope of a better world and to abandon our future to the whims of the wealthy, it is only politics that will allow us to create a better world.

Though it is true that the 40% of the ­electorate who resist politics are able to use a ­broken electoral system in the UK to elect a ­government like the current ­Conservative regime, it is hard to see how this tactic can continue to succeed through generational change and the coming crises caused by economic and environmental breakdown.

Brenda from Bristol’s despair reflects despair at the impossibility of politics to create change. We need to offer ­people hope for democratic and economic change that truly empowers them.

The sellout crowd at the Assembly Rooms were there to help create that — a new future that willingly faces big challenges. They were treated to a range of superb contributions, and there is a lot of of energy to continue on this track.

We are working on events in other parts of these islands, and on a specific focus on the renewal of Scottish ­democracy over the coming months.

I hope you will be able to join us at those events and in this cause.