Knowledge is power. Democracy only works if people are given accurate knowledge to base their decisions upon. Anything less is corruption.
It feels a bit like the UK was pissed off with its boss so it went out and got really drunk, had a fight with all its friends, set fire to its work place and got ‘F*** You’ tattooed on it’s face. It’s woken up, hung-over, with no friends and no job prospects, looking at itself in the mirror thinking ‘what the hell have I just done?’
You can’t un-do nights like that. Even though the fury was justified, it was so completely misdirected that we may as well have just thrown a financial grenade attached to a boomerang; Half the country starring out to where it was thrown, congratulating themselves on their strong and very British right arm, the other half facing the other way, watching its impending return in sheer horror.
Wanting change and being furious at the government for its many misdemeanors is completely understandable; the cuts, the broken promises, the benefit reforms, the lack of funding and support in so many areas, the unfair distribution of wealth and influence, tax cuts and loopholes for the rich, concerns about the NHS, suffering a financial crisis that we didn’t cause (and the buggers that did getting away with it). Drastic changes are needed and long overdue, we’ve been lied to too many times. People want to be heard, to stick a middle finger up at the government and make them feel their pain.
But this wasn’t THAT fight, or that vote.
This was voting to exit the EU, our friends, our allies.
There are always compromises, no group of friends are perfect but they are your friends and despite any internal bickering, if someone started on you in the ‘playground’/ bar/ street/ social media, they’d have your back and you’d have theirs.
To expand on the friends analogy – say you all put money into the ‘rounds pot’ so everyone can have a good night out. Sure, some drink more than others, but you never go without. They don’t always go to your favorite pubs, but as one of the three main personalities in the group, you have a big influence and often do get your own way. Besides, mostly you can opt out of the plans you don’t like.
Besides, the benefits of being in that group far outweigh the cost; you share ideas, resources, plans and information. You stay at each other’s houses. You get introduced to great new people and places. Being in the group is also good for your social standing and how other people see you. You have access to places you wouldn’t otherwise. It’s an influential group of people and being a big personality within them gets you noticed and taken seriously by others. It’s a great network and good for your job prospects and other opportunities too.
Getting drunk and taking your fury out on them, is never going to solve your problem with your boss.
I’m going to take this analogy further (bear with me):
Having set fire to your place of work, your boss got fired for it happening on their watch – they gave you the keys after all. Maybe that gives you a warm glow inside, ‘you showed them!’ But the larger company you worked for, who actually paid your wages and make the rules, still go on, disgruntled, but relatively unharmed and will just replace the old boss with another, possibly/probably worse one.
However, there are now lots of redundancies being made because you burnt the building down and the financial security of the area you live in is in jeopardy because that building housed many of the companies that supplied jobs for the area. Your recently ex-friends ran some of those companies and have no intention of setting up shop anywhere near you because you are now just a liability and besides, you’ve kinda hurt their feelings. A lot.
To add insult to injury you have ‘F*** Off’ tattooed on your face so everyone now thinks you are an intolerant, angry, people hater, (to put it politely).
I know this isn’t really you, UK. I know you were just drunk with fury, in pain and wanting to be heard. Now in the sober light of day, part of you might want to un-do this mess, start over, not have those other 6 shots of absinthe and the lap dance.
You didn’t really think the building would burn down; you just thought the bin would blaze for a while. You didn’t realise your boss would get fired; you just wanted to send them a message and be heard. You didn’t really want to alienate yourself from all your friends; they’d agreed to go to your favourite pub only last week. You never wanted your spouse to leave you; you just hadn’t thought through the consequences of your actions.
You were just so used to your actions not counting, of not being heard, your vote being amassed into a majority that doesn’t represent you. You were just lashing out. This isn’t the real you.
It’s not entirely your fault of course, there were those awful guys that wanted your bosses job, whispering in your ear, telling you lies and buying you shots. They were the ones that got you all fired up and handed you the match. They seemed so convincing when you were drunk, you were already angry so were an easy sell. You wanted to believe them, they listened to you made you feel heard and important. Your boss never did that. You don’t even remember the last time you were made to feel like you mattered. Their words made you feel good, you felt alive and empowered.
They used emotive phrases like ‘take back control’ and played on your fears. Pointing at your group of friends, they questioned the money that you all put in to the ‘rounds pot’, and told you all the other things you could do with it. It’s your money after all, “take back control”. You don’t need to be paying for other people’s drinks, let them get their own. You don’t need a group of friends to go out with, “take back control”, go out on your own then you can do as you please.
You didn’t realize you only got into your favorite places because of the other members of the group. You didn’t think about what happens in a bar fight with no one to back you up.
They started questioning some of the people your friends brought out with them on a night out, some of whom had crashed at your place occasionally, like you had done at theirs. Your bosses rivals starts whispering in your ear that you can’t trust them, that there are too many of them, what are you doing letting them in your house, they might take things that aren’t theirs, like your jobs. Don’t stand for it “Take back control”.
You’d forgotten that these people are you friends, all the times you’d stayed over at theirs, that most of them didn’t want your job, in fact many of them did the jobs that you specifically didn’t want to do and things would fall apart without them.
Then they handed you the match after lighting your last shot of Sambuca, pointed you in the direction of your place of work and said – “stick it to the Man, take back control!”
The rest is a drunken, angry blur with tinges of shame around the edges and a sinking feeling in your stomach.
Seduced, manipulated, wound up and lied to, you wake up wondering what the hell happened. Your boss’s rivals now looking close to stepping into their recently vacated shoes. Your life, social and financial status is in ruins.
You were just a pawn in someone else’s game. Everything they convinced you of was a lie for their own personal gain. You sparked the flame that they imagine their delusional phoenix will rise from. The last 40 years of peace and progress, the ash.
All alone, the most expensive divorce in history heading your way, with one of them as your new boss and ‘F*** You’ tattooed on your face.
That morning after feeling
A rather stretched and simplified analogy perhaps but in the wake of the consequences of the successful Brexit vote; the in-fighting and collapse of our governmental parties, the crash of the sterling, and drop in the UK’s credit rating, Scotland and Ireland wanting to de-unite the Kingdom, the increase racial tensions and hate crime – a portion of those that voted Leave, are equally horrified and expressing deep ‘morning after’ regrets.
The rather belated serge in Google searches for ‘What happens if we leave the EU’ speaks for itself. Especially now that the Leave campaigners have admitted that the points they peddled as their main campaign promises are in fact undeliverable. Or as some might say – a blatant lie: £350 million will not be going to the NHS, in fact the Leave leaders are all for privitisation of the NHS. Immigration is unlikely to be reduced by leaving the EU.
The fury of the Remainers is because they believe a the Leavers, or a portion of them at least, have been sold a lie. That this portion are realising Brexit was perhaps not the solution to the problems that it claimed to be and therefore not what they voted for at all. Had they not been lied to and made such false promises by the Leave Campaign we most likely wound’t be in this mess.
Additionally, some of those Leavers, didn’t think their vote would count – as it so often feels like it doesn’t. They wanted to send a message of discontent, which is completely understandable, but they didn’t really want or expect the leave vote to win and would vote differently now given the choice and having seen the immediate consequences.
Why the UK has such a split Personality
Now I am not foolish or arrogant enough to believe that the majority of Leavers feel this way. Many truly believe that leaving the EU is best for the country. They’ve done their research, they knew the consequences and despite the risks and uncertainty ahead for the country, truly believe it’s worth the risk.
When you see the decline and blatant neglect of some parts of Britain, who could blame many for wanting change – whatever that looks like.
On the point of immigration; being concerned that your market is being flooded with cheap labour that prevents you from either making a decent living or even getting work at all, is a legitimate fear for some and does not make someone a racist.
Most people, I believe (maybe naively) are very tolerant and even embracing of other cultures, when their own culture, territory, identity and ability to put food on their table is not directly challenged by another. But if you attack these intrinsic human needs of survival and identity, I don’t think it matters where you come from, you are going to experience some very instinctual and emotional defence, push back and even fury. Rightly or wrongly, this is what we are experiencing right now in some parts of Britain. People are feeling a threat to their livelihoods and the EU has been blamed.
The grossly uneven division of wealth and opportunities was clearly illustrated on the map of results. It has never been clearer that our country has a split personality caused by deep historical wounds and years of neglect by those charged with its care, in preference of its favourite child: London.
But our government did this – not the EU.
Cameron gave an (understandably) angry man an axe and someone to hate, then expected to come back to find wood all nicely chopped by a fire that he could warm his feet next to for the rest of his term. Instead he got handed his proverbial head. So very out of touch was he with the climate of his own country.
So who are we?
So, as the dust settles and we analyse how we ended up with this result, a few main groups seem to have emerged:
- The ‘Remainers’: Pro EU (They have researched and believe their reasons, or some may have played it safe)
- The ‘Genuine Be-Leavers’: Pro Leave (They have researched and believe their reasons)
- The ‘Stick it to the Man’-ers: Screw the Gov and send them a message! (Basically turned up angry to the wrong fight and shot themselves in the foot)
- The ‘I just want change-rs’: Whatever it bloody looks like, we’ve got nothing left to loose. (Will probably be some of the worse effected by Brexit)
- The ‘Nihilists’: Let’s just F*** S***up. (There’s one at every party)
- The ‘Regrexit-ers’: I didn’t think that would really happen, opps, what now? (!?!? Insert your own unrepeatable words. Ok, at least you’ve admitted it, now get over here and try to undo your mess)
- The ‘I can’t correctly put a tick in a box-ers’ (enough said really)
- The ‘Lazy Git-ers’: (They couldn’t be bother showing up to possibly the most important vote in their lifetime. Just wow. Obviously those with health or family emergencies excluded).
However, there is another segment of society that has reared it’s ugly, angry head and have been conducting themselves in a manner that can only be referred to bigotry and racism.
This is not ok. The Leave campaign, The British National Party and UKIP have somehow made it seem acceptable to unleash your hate and venom on anyone that doesn’t share your view, beliefs, faith or looks. We’ll call this segment the ‘Haters’. Like any fundamentalist, they are very much in the minority, but boy do they kick up an ugly stink. They of course do not represent many of the Leave voters but the Leave campaign’s focus on immigration and the finger pointing at immigrants by both them and the lowest of the low media, is undoubtably responsible for the unleashing of the vilest hate we have seen on these shores for a long time. What did they think was going to happen? How is this different from other moments in history when angry, hurting people have been pointed in the direction of a minority group that have different faith or look and been told – “They’re your problem, you want to get rid of those folk over there and everything will be ok’? Angry people in pain do not make good decision makers, especially when they’ve just been whipped up into a fury of hate by a fist full of lies. Farage – here’s looking at you. The phrase ‘incitement of racial hatred’ and word ‘prosecution?’ spring to mind. What we now do to prevent these lies and vile behaviour from dragging race relations back 30 years is going be the next big question on the table and deserves it’s own discussion piece to do it justice.
It’s one thing (and an important thing) to have all voices represented, it’s another to have the most bigoted and hateful, shout the loudest and mislead the country by fear and lies into its own demise.
And this is where I am going with this. (Thank you for bearing with me thus far!)
If the referendum campaign was conducted fairly and accurately on both sides and the result voted for by Genuine Remainers and the Genuine Be-Leavers was still Brexit, then our impending doom would be somewhat easier to swallow. It would still be a very bitter pill and one worth fighting at every turn, but it would at least look more like democracy.
I’m going to believe that the Haters and Nihilists are in the minority and that they alone would not be able to swing the vote. Any thing other than this being true is too depressing to contemplate right now. Have they also been lied to and incited? Yes, but every society has these lurking somewhere in the minority, usually under rocks or trolling social media comment sections. However the campaign was conducted, they would have done their best to be their hateful and unhelpful selves.
So this leaves us with the ‘change-ers’, the ‘Stick its’ and the ‘Regrexiters’, which as I discussed above, expressed understandable fury, fear and passion with the only chance and voice they’d been given. And it is this fury, fear and passion that so many of the Remainers believe has been exploited and misled for political gain, not to the benefit of the people that need it so much.
We laugh at Gove saying that the people are ‘bored of the experts’, but to be fair, ‘experts’ led us into a financial crisis and recession. Experts told us to eat less fat and sparked a health crisis. You can understand why some, already angry people might do exactly the opposite of what the ‘experts’ suggested. It just so happens that THIS time they were right but trust had already gone, and with it the stability of not only our dear country but also Europe. This has serious global implications. This was just too damn important to have become the sh*t show that it did. Too important not to have a second barrier in place, to prevent a Nation’s demise being activated by the transitory emotion of the people on one rainy Thursday in June.
Maybe, with accurate information the above would still have all voted they way they did. Maybe, however, the regret that millions are now expressing means that on the basis of accurate campaign promises and information, they would have voted the other way and our current financial and political ‘predicament’ (putting it very mildly) could have been avoided. We just don’t know, and that doesn’t feel like a good model of democracy. It feels like trickery. It feels like corruption.
There should be something like the following in place to protect the people from such corruption and its consequences:
- If a referendum or electoral campaign is won of the basis of promises, statements, inferences or implied actions, that then turn out to be untrue, misrepresented, misleading or inaccurate, or if the party has no intention, or clear plan for carrying out such actions: The result must be considered null and void.
- The accuracy of campaign information should be monitored and over seen by a neutral party.
- A second referendum or election should be conducted where appropriate or Parliamentary intervention considered.
We are all fed up of being lied to and manipulated; this is our life, our country, our future. Not some reality TV show for clowns. They must stop treating us all like a dumb audience to be manipulated to ‘oooh’ and ‘ahhh’ at their trickery and slight of hand while they pick our pockets. They work for us, the people, remember? Let’s not get distracted, or divided. Let’s acknowledge each other’s pain and fear and work this out together. Let’s demand accountability and honesty so we can make properly informed decisions and choose leaders that will fairly and compassionately lead this country into greatness; unity, stability, growth, tolerance, wealth and influence, for all of us.
It starts with the knowing the truth. That is where the power to make good decisions in a democracy comes from. Otherwise democracy is embarrassingly reduced to nothing more than a puppet show, as we are currently experiencing. It is our responsibility to hold ourselves, our leaders and our country to a higher standard.
So what can we do?
Here are several options or petitions for you to further exercise your democratic rights:
1) Petition for referendum or electoral campaigns to be declared ‘Null and Void’ if it is subsequently proved that they have been based on claims that deliberately mislead the general public. Demands a neutral party to oversee the accuracy of campaign material:
2) Petition to make it illegal for any UK political figure to knowingly lie or mislead
3) Website that directs a pre-written (but editable) email to your local MP to reject the result of the Referendum based on the inaccurate promises of the Leave campaign.
4) Petition to charge Farage with incitement of racial hatred:
5) Petition demanding a public inquiry into the UK Governments culture of lying to voters:
6) A campaign to end racism in our media:
7) Petition asking for a second referendum. (Despite it’s unlikeliness it’s a popular petition for expressing discontent with the result).
8) Petition for the EU to require a stronger mandate from the UK for Brexit on the basis that the Leave campaign lied, 38% is not a majority, many of these have already changed their mind:
9) Show solidarity – wear a Safety Pin! Article on showing solidarity with those that might feel threatened by the current increase in race crimes and tensions: Wear a safety pin to show that you are a safe person for them and that you have their back.
10) Petition for compulsory teaching of Politics and International relations at GCSE level:
11) Join a political party
12) Join the Electoral Reform society: http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk
13) Petition for there to be a ‘None Of The Above’ box on the ballot papers for elections: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/inclusion-of-an-official-none-of-the-above-option-for-all-uk-elections-2
14) Get involved, sign up, speak up, stand up.
We will not have democracy replaced by corruption or allow hate and lies to bring our country to its knees.
That wouldn’t be very British now would it.
Cuppa tea anyone?