I’ve always been pretty interested in politics and often stay up to watch the results come in on election night. This time was different though. The results wouldn’t get interesting for quite a while as there was no historic data to compare to and, frankly, I thought there was no chance of anything but remain being the result. I was sure that inertia would prevail. I went to bed fairly early for me but woke suddenly just after 4am feeling wide awake – almost like I sensed something was happening. Leave was winning and with every result that came in a vote for out looked more and more likely. Wow.
Facebook hysteria soon followed. I began to think I must have missed another announcement. Perhaps we’d also declared war on Russia? How else could such panic be justified? On the school run later that morning a friend of mine showed me the post of another parent who said their children were in tears that this had happened – what on earth had they been telling them?? Many others posted in a similar vein that they were deeply worried for the future of their children.
Project fear had clearly worked well and people were scared.
When the hysteria started to settle the lashing out started. Another animal instinct when scared or threatened.
- “Thank you grandma” or how dare you almost dead old people vote against my young person view.
- It was all racists and xenophobes.
- It was the uneducated.
So there are 17 million racist uneducated old people out there apparently!
A day later came denial with a petition getting around 3m votes (interestingly from all over the world) demanding a 2nd referendum. Petitions quickly followed requesting second chances on all sorts of events from choosing lottery numbers to Stuart Pearce retaking his penalty in 1990.
The Liberal Anti-democrats and Labour MP David Lammy said the vote should be ignored.
The SNP confirmed they would take all steps to block it. To Nicola Sturgeon’s credit she had at least indicated this before the vote.
Pause for thought
What we did last Thursday was certainly momentous. But all we really did was vote to no longer be part ruled by an undemocratic bunch of bureaucrats in Brussels.
I am reminded of one of my favourite speeches from a New Zealand MP when they were voting on gay marriage. I commented to a friend that this would have been how I responded to the vote if I were PM. Something like:
“I give you this guarantee. The sun will still rise, your teenage children will still answer back, summer will still seem to last just 3 days, we will still be European and we will all still be friends. We now have an opportunity to shape a bright future.”
I was sad to see that David Cameron resigned after the vote. However, by doing so, he has also caused a pause for thought. A time to plan and a time to see how the rest of Europe responds. Many countries may decide to follow.
As a country we will be in control of our own destiny. That is a real opportunity.
The biggest opportunity though is social and political. The referendum has got people talking. It has got people voting and engaged who wouldn’t normally be. A referendum result has been campaigned for by (not my description) very right wing Tories and won with huge numbers of traditionally Labour voters voting for it – it has spanned the political divide.
There is surely now a chance to open people’s minds to a different form of politics and maybe some new parties too. One where the vocal left, a group I often refer to as champagne socialists, can reflect on whether they really are speaking for those they claim to care about any more, or just following their own herd driven moral hate crusade (See who you can hate). One where the Tory opposition isn’t referred to with disdain and an underlying assumption that all such politicians are only in it for money and power. One where the Tories winning this referendum can reflect on the needs of those poor communities that helped win this referendum and the social changes needed to make their lives better. One where we can debate ideas rather than throw insults.
Maybe I’m dreaming but it would be nice to think that all could reflect a bit on this result and work towards a bright future.