I woke up this morning and felt sick, a wave of almost grief coming over me, that was swiftly followed by anger and then sadness. The UK has voted to leave the EU. It feels like the worst decision that has ever happened, it quite likely is a massively bad decision, but it is a decision nonetheless.
My immediate thought as the markets crashed were, selfishly, how will it effect me, what for the future and what should we learn from this.
There is a reality that the UK is considerably more conservative and right leaning than many people generally think. While this is a devastating result we should, perhaps, not be terribly surprised. Bare in mind that while UKIP only has 1 seat in parliament (0.2% of the seats) they received 12.7% of the popular vote at the last election. Certainly the first-past-the-post system has insulated us from this right-leaning part of the nation. We should also be aware that more people voted for UKIP than the Lib Dems, SNP and Green Parties – they are the third most popular party in the UK.
However, and I say this with an incredibly heavy heart, what we have witnessed is democracy in action – yes, we may hate the result – yes, the older generations have forced change on younger generations they didn’t want – yes, Nigel Farage is still being a smug, arrogant, arsehole. But democracy has been served – elected officials placing the fate of the nation in their own hands – rightly or wrongly – the people have spoken.
So where do we go next? My initial thought was back to bed, screw the lot of them. But that’s not terribly helpful and despite everything I still have to go to work. I thought I’d jot down my thoughts.
- While there is conservatism strongly represented in older generations, younger people are more liberal than ever which gives me hope for the future.
- UKIP have been a single issue party. There is a huge question about where they go next? Without a convenient scapegoat will they disappear? And if they do (and God I hope they do), who will take those voters.
- There will be considerable economic impact as a result of this vote – this will undoubtedly effect the poor and young working people. But it will also hit the older generations, pensions, housing and more. There will, possibly be a reduction in house prices across the UK – whether there will be any jobs for people, or if inflation goes wild, that’s another matter. Eventually, everything will balance out. Simply put business works better in stability so stability is key.
- We should examine the core of what our democracy is and how we conduct it. We rejected Alternative Vote and voted in one of the most right-wing, anti-poor, aggressive governments of the past 30 years. We also rejected accepting the considered views of our elected officials to put this subject to referendum. Was that a good idea? We won’t know for years.
- I’ve read that lots of people said “I’ll leave the country” or have suggested that Scotland or Northern Ireland should hold independence votes. I desperately hope that doesn’t happen. I still believe we’re better together – the question is can we find a shared vision of the future that describes what we want to be in positive, aspirational tones, or are we stuck in the blame game with no exit in sight.
- We need to address the issues of misleading the public and hate crimes. Both have been committed by leading Brexiteers (and a few Remainers) during this hateful campaign. Will those people be brought to justice. When we ignore overt racism and the twisting of fact (or just bare-faced lies) where does that leave our nation?
- The media must take some blame for this – again, when papers can publish lies and hate crimes, when they can aggressively destroy people, and take sides, we should ask the question about where news (impartial) ends and entertainment begins and how we and the masses can ensure the difference is obvious.
This is the start of a new journey – a new and terrifying journey. For hundreds of years we have been Great Britain, the United Kingdom. We need politics to find a new message, a new goal, perhaps even a written constitution so that we stop making a mockery of the words Great and United and live them.
Today is a hard day, the start of many hard days, it can seem bleak and dark, but it’s our duty to find that light, find our future and make our nation everything it promises but doesn’t yet deliver.