So the results are in from the EU Referendum and I have to say I’m somewhat surprised. I was a ‘vote leave’, but I didn’t think it would really come to fruition. I got the result I wanted; I think the UK is strong enough to go it alone. But I also thought the remain camp would attract more votes. So, even though I got what I wanted, I was taken aback by it.
The future will always be there and does not need to be considered right at this very minute, but what’s happening in the present is interesting and revealing.
I started 24th June 2016, walking to the tube like any other day, but with a feeling of freedom. I felt de-shackled. I felt like my vote finally counted for something. The world was in colour. But then the first point at which I noticed something was wrong was when I stopped off for breakfast on the way to the office at around 07:00 that morning. Everything was normal until around 07:01 when someone stood next to me and proceeded to vocalise about how bad the result was and that the lunatics were now running the asylum. On the 15-minute walk from the station to my office I caught snippets from four more conversations, all of which were about the result. And not talking about it in a favourable light.
Throughout the day, I kept an eye on social media and that’s when the trend really became apparent. Those who voted to remain were not only complaining, but actually getting very angry indeed. Those who voted to leave were keeping pretty quiet. In my circle, I know more or less who voted which way, or can at least make a reasonable guess.
So where am I going with this?
I realise I’ve left it to paragraph 6 to make my point, but here it is. There’s been a lot of speculation about why the polls have been getting it wrong. In the 2015 election, the prediction was for a hung parliament. In this 2016 referendum, the general prediction was for a remain win. In both cases, the more conservative side won out. Are these voters lying to the polls? Are they refusing to respond? Either way, what I’m seeing is that the ‘liberal’ (and that word deserves its own post) viewpoint is the only one that’s now acceptable to declare. Those with more moderate and conservative views are choosing to keep quiet.
Now the ‘liberal’ voters have been given an unmistakeable slap in the face (and I feel particularly good about that). They’re not used to being challenged, when they should be – regularly. And they certainly don’t like to be wrong. But they deserve the shock. Why? I’m tired of being told debate is healthy, only to be shut down when I try to have one. I’m tired of being told I’m racist when I express concerns about immigration. I’m tired of talking to ‘liberals’ who are not tolerant at all, but merely peddling a new form of intolerance (again, separate post probably required). From them, I hear just as much ‘hate speech’ as from those they seek to destroy. The Labour Youth has come of age and now they have to face Real Life.
At first I must admit I found the Facebook postings I was seeing a little threatening. Then, after lunch, I started to realise the liberal left were hurt and were being pretty bad losers about it. When I vote for the side that loses, I, and others like me, tend to take it on the chin. But look at the result when the other side lose! My Facebook feed looks like a room full of X-Factor rejects. Some of the language I’m seeing is incredible. I can’t believe much of it is making it past the moderators.
So we have a Leave result but the majority of the debate about how bad it is. It seems conservative voters keep to themselves. There’s no need for them to shout about everything. Every cross on a ballot paper is the same colour.
But the ‘liberal left’ now have some soul searching to do. This could mark the point at which it becomes apparent that all their bluster doesn’t really amount to anything when it comes to crunch time. It also shows that it doesn’t affect those with more moderate views. We’re quite happy to watch you blow off steam, content with the knowledge that steam is really just hot air. It should also now be apparent that threatening us (see Obama: going to the back of the queue) can backfire. [Actually, on that note, I’m quite happy to go to the back of the queue for trade with America as long as they’re happy to go to the back of our queue for war partners.] But shutting down the debate to force people to align with your narrow ideologies appears to be ineffective.
Try some British spirit instead. It won’t kill you. You’ll end up knowing your neighbours. You’ll learn how to change a tyre, catch a fish, sew on a button and think for yourself. You’ll be surprised at how independent you’ll feel.