Now then, hands up who saw that coming. Put them down, you’re all liars except for me, I called this shit ages ago. Okay that was also a lie. Lieception.
I don’t want to bore you with yet another analysis of what just happened, you’ll get plenty of those on real news sites, or rather shared over and over and over by people on your Facebook until the mere sight of the words “The Guardian” makes you boil with a apoplectic rage. Though some may already feel that way.
This isn’t going to be an in depth political or economic breakdown, nor is it going to pour scorn on either side of the debate, nor am I going to resort to name calling of the leaders of either side.
That being said though, despite the inevitable ascension to power of our new Supreme Overlord BoJo of Etonion V, I am glad to see the back of Cameron, it’s much nicer to look at than the ham faced front. Shut the door on your way out love, you won’t be missed.
This is rather going to be a loosely structured and occasionally sweary overview of what I think are the most interesting parts of what is now officially a Brexit, and thank fuck for that, because Bremain was an awful neologism. Or is it a portmanteau…
So, Britain is leaving the EU. Who would have thunk it? Who would have thought that the same group of people who implored Scotland to remain a part of the union based on an act from 1707 would also turn so quickly on a supranational body they joined in 1972.
Who would have thought that we would have such a ridiculously high turnout, 72%, much higher than the general election (which has a much more instant and real impact on the state of the country) did last year.
Who would have thought that in 2016, with all of our laptops and tablets and phones and social media and news that even shows up in your snapchat, people would still fall for the same old anti-immigration “speaking english in are cuntry” rhetoric, or on the other hand the “everything is perfect with the EU why change it” rainbow sparkle gushing from certain media outlets.
Who would honestly have thought that a decision so crucial to the future of the country, that will have a lasting impact on the nature and structure of our economy, that will overhaul the way we deal with the continent and may well affect Britain’s diplomatic endeavours globally was best left in the hands of a voting public who are apathetic 90% of the time and ignorant for the other 10%.
It would be a bit futile now that it’s all over to say that there should never have been a referendum in the first place, but I’m just going to go ahead and say it anyway. There should never have been a referendum in the first place.
There wasn’t a referendum when we signed up in 1972, there wasn’t a referendum when it came to the Iraq War, there wasn’t a referendum to vote on renewing Trident, there wasn’t a referendum recently when it came to the contracts for junior doctors, a move which will affect the future of the NHS, so why now?
It’s obvious why now. It wasn’t to put the decision in the hands of the people, it was so Cameron could claw back some voters from UKIP, so Boris could make a power play for the leadership despite supporting Turkey’s accession to the EU only a few years ago, it was so Farage (who has been a failure in every genuine political role) could feel important again. We were led astray from the very outset by men who put their own selfish interests above those of an entire country, and like pigs going to an abattoir we were all too content to go along with it, smugly satisfied on both sides that we were right, thinking to ourselves “Yes, the decision is in our hands, and reason will prevail.”
Well look whose reason prevailed.
I voted remain, anyone who knows me will know why, I had a fantastic experience thanks to the EU and Erasmus and I want young people in the future to have that opportunity. That’s my personal reasoning.
There will be people who voted remain for different reasons, they may run a business and like that there are no tariffs on goods traded within the EU, they may like that they can employ workers freely, there are any number of reasons to vote remain.
But if personal reasons to vote remain are good enough then why aren’t personal reasons to leave? Why was everyone who stated they would vote leave shouted down by a chorus of “racist” and “bigot” and other words people plucked from HuffPo?
They may genuinely be concerned about immigration and overpopulation in their area, they may be concerned about the future of an NHS that has been subject to cuts and privatisation at the hands of the Tories, they may disagree with the bureaucracy and lack of transparency of the EU, they may not like the oversight that the ECJ and ECtHR have over domestic law, they may be fishermen and farmers who were hit by the fisheries policy and the CAP way back when and finally have a chance to change that.
Why should their opinion count for any less simply because it doesn’t gel with our own?
It would be simple to argue that it’s all the fault of the Murdoch press, that stupid right wingers have simply gobbled up the turds of misinformation laid by the Mail and the Sun etc. and mindlessly done as they were told. But is that really fair?
Could we not just as easily argue that those of us who voted remain were swayed by the Guardian and the Independent, that we’re just dumb brainless lefties who read a leaflet or saw a video on Facebook and mindlessly did as we were told.
What we need now is less finger pointing, less name calling, more co-operation. Not everyone who disagrees with you is a bigot, not everybody will have voted to leave because they hate immigrants and are racist, not everyone will have based their views off the papers (how many people do you actually think read actual newspapers anyway?)
I know this is The Angry Indian™, but I’m trying to keep this calm and rational. I have long held that democracy only works when your electorate is informed, I said it after the election last year, and I’ll say it again now.
But at the same time what matters at the end of the day is whichever option more people vote for, especially in a referendum with a simple 50% majority. You may disagree with them, but you can’t tell them how to vote. That’s democracy.
You may argue that older people shouldn’t get as much of a say since they will be biased or won’t be around long enough to live through the consequences (that was me yesterday, sorry old people), but they have a vote, that’s democracy.
You may argue that voters under 18 should have been able to participate, to have a say in matters which will shape their futures, but they aren’t eligible by law to vote. That’s idiocy. And also democracy. Keep the pattern going.
What I’m saying is you can’t back democracy when it’s going your way and decry it the second it isn’t, that’s petty, it’s petulant, and whingeing after the fact gets nothing done.
I wrote a while ago about people finding their political feet, about how which side of the line we fall on will vary issue by issue, will change as we get older, as we make more money (or any money), depending on where we live etc. etc. Many people will have found their political feet yesterday, and surely that is some solace. We at least now have a politically engaged public, people willing to go down to their local polling station and have their say, people who aren’t content to just sit and watch the numbers tick over on some overly elaborate BBC News infographic.
We have a younger demographic who are tired of leaving decisions in the hands of the old and conservative, who want to affect social change in order to secure the future they want for themselves and those who come after, and will be able to someday soon.
Likewise we have those who are tired of having to bite their tongues, of being told they’re un-PC, backwards, bigoted, racist, simply for having an opinion. Whatever you may think of either side, these are good developments, and I personally can’t wait until 2020 when we get another say with our newfound enthusiasm.
My Facebook feed today is full of people like me, young, university graduates, liberal, global, intelligent and educated. But we’re also arrogant, we’re dismissive, we’re opinionated, we’re self-righteous, we think that we know best and we fail to acknowledge that not everyone else feels the same way.
I’m guilty of this, probably more than most, but if there’s one thing I’m going to take away from this whole referendum saga it’s this.
We live in a divided world. We live on a planet divided into continents, continents divided into countries, countries divided into regions and cities etc. We live in a society divided along lines of race, religion, gender, age, wealth, education and political thought.
If we are to progress as a nation, as a species, of course we need less division, but that doesn’t mean placing blame. That doesn’t mean we get to decide that our way is the right way, that democracy is only democracy when it reinforces our own views and prejudices. If you’re on either side and you deem the other side less intelligent, less informed, less worthy of a vote, of a voice, then you are denying the essence of democracy.
Everyone has a voice, everyone has a vote, and everyone has the right to do with it what they choose to do with it. Vote leave, vote remain, draw a dick in the box, tear up your ballot paper, you could have done anything, and so could anyone else.
What we need now is for the pointing and blaming to stop. Be disappointed sure, have a day or two to vent your frustrations, but after that it’s time for much more important work. We are in the situation that we are in and wishful thinking isn’t going to change that, action is, be that on your own behalf or for society at large. So instead of writing long winded statuses and blogs (self-referencing, boom), sit down and think about how all of this is going to affect you and make a plan for what you’re going to do about it.
We’re no longer apathetic remember, we’re enthusiastic and energised, we’re intelligent and capable, we had a say on a piece of paper but now we have to have a say IRL.
We have the opportunity, reason and incentive to do what we want to do, so let’s get out there and do it.
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
xoxo, The Angry European.