Brexit: A Bittersweet Win For Democracy
For many the referendum result of the 23rd of June 2016 will be a eulogy, for others a birth. A contentious media campaign saw half-truths spouted from both sides. The ‘leave’ campaign promised much, but now delivers little. The ‘Remain’ camp warned of dire economic penalties, in a protracted campaign colloquially dubbed ‘Project Fear’. The predictions of which are becoming evidently true (though not as dramatic as foretold) Despite the outcome, there may be no clear winner after all. Democracies ‘victory’ may be bittersweet, where a ‘Brexit’ means a step back in the world (and possibly time) for the UK.
David Cameron’s ‘vote winner’ has become a stain on his party’s reputation. To secure office the conservatives offered a public vote on EU membership, but did not expect us to leave. Theresa May finds herself between a rock and a hard place. Can she deliver a ‘Brexit’ that protects the people whilst maintaining political integrity? If not, what of the conservative rule? Is her party’s tenure worth the sacrifice of Britain’s global standing? The evidence is damning and questions growing.
There is no doubt that the referendum was a win for democratic action. A 72% turnout is astounding, and voting was legal and should be taken as reflective of the opinions and intentions of the public. A country that since Thatcher has struggled to maintain any ‘people power’ has shown its guile. Whether you believe the vote was made on lies or not, a form of ‘protest’ or simply ‘misguided’, the result is clear. The referendum must be taken as the public’s intention unless a second and contradictory referendum is drawn.
We must abide by democracy. But we must also make decisions using evidence and not theatrics which may contradict the common will. We are allowed to change our minds when presented with new evidence, but equally we cannot ignore large public votes without cause. In this case, I feel the cause is just. The referendum stands, but so does sense. There is no problem in realising a mistake before its too late.
It is clear that media handling of this dispute has been deplorable and revealed some of the most heinous journalism of recent years. The more ‘right wing’ papers have conflated ‘Brexit’ with patriotism, and free speech with treason and ‘left wing’ thinking. The ‘Left wing’ papers have found little substance in aligning with any political party, with Jeremy Corbyn pro-Brexit and Labour providing little resistance to the ‘committed conservative pledge’. Lest we forget, the Conservatives did not want a ‘Brexit’ at all.
It seems now that anyone wishing to remain in the EU is labelled as treasonous, and ‘Brexiteers’ labelled as ‘stupid, old, racist and in denial’ of the repercussions of a ‘juvenile protest vote.’ As always such generalisations are unhelpful, as the vast majority of voters on either side presumes a scale of intelligence and motivations. I doubt that any significant number voted remain to ‘off the queen’ and leave to ‘keep out the immigrants’. I also don’t believe the elderly are ‘stupid or racist’, they just want to protect the UK (and their grandchildren) as they see fit. The silent majority are simply looking for a better Britain, Lizzie intact.
The media like to stoke fires for sales, and perhaps should be reprimanded for doing so. To advocate ‘silencing’ remainers could easily be taken as ‘murder them’. I’d like to see Dacre and Murdoch answer for what I see as provoking civil unrest and advocating violence. We know the media lies, so why are we listening to intently. As the son of an ex News International employee, I know the blood on Murdoch’s hands is that of many.
It is all quite confusing and a little dirty. Mays rise to power, unelected in the absence of Cameron and in the wake of the seditious actions of Gove, remains a blight on democratic process. She clings to a democratic mandate to deliver the Brexit decision, but is not democratic in her tenure. The conservatives have pulled together behind a decision they previously did not support, and labour has split down the middle in a vicious battle between Corbynites and populists. UKIP has almost disappeared altogether.
In this confusion it has fallen to David Davis to negotiate the terms of exit, withheld from a government that claims control. To an outsider this is a scuffle where the victor bleeds to death whilst waving a Union Jack. Not really a victory.
It now seems clear that the remaining ‘Leave’ leader, Boris Johnson, had prepared statements in support of both outcomes. This is a man playing to his strength in realising uncertainty, but unveiling a weakness in his conviction. He wanted Brexit no more than many ‘Remainers’, but allied to the vote outcome as if it were his decision. Once again we are met with inconsistency and the indication that the government literally has no plan for the outcome created in the media fire of the pre-referendum.
This was not a predicted outcome; this was a mistake. And May knows it, as does Boris. His election to foreign affairs is a punishment. Hilarious if not deeply worrying, you don’t place an idiot in charge of foreign affairs. Especially not with such high tension in the peri-russia arena.
Regardless of the politics and media frenzy, the evidence for an economic meltdown grows. The pound has fallen to its lowest against the Euro in recent years, and the EU has made no illusion of rewarding Britain for its ‘victory’. We will gain no border control and will not maintain single market access, it is simply too much to ask. We cannot have our cake and eat it, and why should we? Why is Britain so special? Are we really that ‘Great’?
I have written on the conflation of patriotism and identity with progress, and come to the conclusion that to uphold old ideals is to sacrifice our future growth. Darwinism shows indiscriminately that animals ‘ill suited’ to the field die, why should it be different in politicoeconomic games? My distinct fear is that Britain has become an elderly despot, lost in memories of the imperialistic ‘good old days’ where it actually held some global power.
We once held the world subject to our naval fleets, but times change and boats sink. These times also celebrated slavery, public hanging and women were not allowed to vote. Not really ‘Great’. An old animal dies when it doesn’t change, lets no dig up the corpse and pretend it can still hunt. Old bones are old bones.
Through my own research I have found that some are still claiming the germans as ‘Nazis’, immigrants as ‘islams’ and ‘terrorists’ and remainers ‘as whiny treasonists’. This is alarming, I thought we had left 1939 behind. Brexit is not a welcome reminder of the hate of old. I have been targeted by large groups personally, and labelled as a ‘rich leftie’ (im sure my working class background can be conveniently ignored here.) As can my 28k a year doctor salary, hardly much when compared to an MP’s. And I save lives, not play with them.
The media has played on these ideas mercilessly, stoking hate and division where it can. These people are the minority, but their voices amplified by print moguls aware of the human susceptibility to tribal fear. Rich against poor, right against left, white against brown, young against old. Its basic psychology, abused for profit. Murdoch-Dacreism 101. Hardly Darwinism, but just as cruel.
The new world is one of communication, forgetting our differences and celebrating equality. It is a world where logic trumps emotion and political power is subject to evidence . The advent of social media has provided us a tool to spread information once held from the public’s minds, to question our leaders and their intentions. In this case the message is clear; we are heading for collapse and May is guiding us forward. To question that is not treason. It is sense and actually protecting the people. It just doesn’t suit May to be questioned, then her fear may show.
In the wake of the referendum result and in light of new evidence there is a growing regret. Misled by their leaders, many ‘Brexiteers’ are now renouncing their decisions. Infact, a recent poll by the author hs shown an 87% vote to Remain. Votes made in good faith to ‘give money to the NHS’ are being squandered in favour of Nigel Farage’s victory dance. Let’s not forget that Farage has just endorsed Donald Trumps ‘alleged’ sexual assault as ‘alpha’, behaviour reflective of the ‘good old days’ of the east India trading company, rape and lynch mobs. Little to celebrate. Farage is very much a king of the hens.
It may be that Brexit has shown a win for democratic voting, but will be a loss for the UK overall. A government not convinced of the value of leaving the EU, and having no real power to secure a favourable exit, now uses ‘treason’ and ‘patriotism’ equivocally to equate the UK’s kamikaze run with victory. The falling pound will be met by a swift exit of multinational business and likely recession. Still, some will claim victory, ‘our borders back’ and ‘a Great Britain’. We dream of a strong ‘patriotic’ country free of the ‘Nazi’ shackles of the ‘EU’, free to turn away ‘terrorists’ and ‘export fine British goods’.
To me it looks more like a burning ship with an incompetent and trapped captain, terrified of mutiny at suggesting ‘heading back to port.’ The only way out is for May to admit that although the referendum vote is a win for democracy, the new evidence means that we can and should change our minds. We are all intelligent enough to do that, and it is an insult to say otherwise. The final outcome of Brexit is not wholly predictable, but the evidence is not one of a good end.
If you want a Great Britain, let it be part of great world. Lets not let it die for May’s reputation, conservative tenure, Johnson’s insecurity, Farage’s ego and Murdoch and Dacre’s own fortunes. Lets not let it become a corpse subject to Darwinian process and learn from the evidence. Lets move forward, together.
Sources and Further reading
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