I’m at long last moved to say something. I rarely comment on posts about political issues because I respect others’ views and understand I’m unlikely to change anyone’s opinion or outlook. This is a plea to those people who who seek to label and box me up in a category because of one cross I put in one box nearly 3 years ago. These are my own views and words, they aren’t meant to represent anyone else’s opinion nor have they been taken from any other source. They’re heartfelt and represent the outlook that just one (naive?) person who lives in this country has. Researching this area has become nigh on impossible due to trying to separate fact from fiction. Almost everyone now has an agenda which makes forming your own views on the current situation difficult. Despite all this, here goes…
Recently, I’ve become agitated, where usually I just don’t care enough to speak up. I’ve written this because I feel I have to say something to the amazing people of the UK. My friends, my family and anyone else that cares to be interested enough. The people that deserve so much better than we’re currently getting and who are being/have been, led into a divisive process that benefits no-one and threatens to dismantle a well tried and tested, imperfect admittedly, society.
Maybe it’s just change, maybe this needed to happen to cleanse the system and the representatives of this country. Maybe good will come of it. At the moment however, the signs aren’t looking positive. Where once we sat and moaned a bit (in a typically British way) about the weather and how the country was governed, we now fall deeper and deeper into an ugly mire, an unknown territory. A territory where all sense of rhyme and reason disappears into god knows where and one that could leave our country in a place nobody wanted, leave or remain.
As the Brexit (there, I said it!) ‘negotiations’ fall into deeper and deeper confusion, us, the people of this country, are becoming more and more divided. Where once we had few strongly held opinions, we now have deeply entrenched and bitter views that are becoming increasingly aggressive and insulting. Where once we could have minor disagreements about views and feelings, we now have shouting and slanging matches. This is being played out across the country, regardless of region, ethnicity, religion, political persuasion or age. Friends and families are falling out and becoming damaged over a decision made in 2016. It’s been allowed to rumble and fester for way too long with sideshows and debates that should never have been allowed to see the light of day.
Little ole me…
Now, I have to nail my colours to the mast and declare that I voted ‘Leave’ in the referendum. Before all of you who voted to ‘Remain’ hit the ‘x’ at the top of the screen, please hear me out before you ‘block’, ‘unfriend’ or ‘unfollow’ me.
Here’s the most important thing, I’m still ME! Both sides of the referendum vote need to remember this. Your family, friends and people down the pub are still the same people. They/we have just been whipped up into a frenzy of self destruction by a broken and ultimately unfit for purpose system.
Unlike many people (I’m making a presumption here), at the time of the referendum, I chose to ignore the ’10 minutes of fame’ politicians as best I could. I was inclined to vote leave but felt it deserved some of my best attention. So, I researched. I read every piece of information I could on the EU, its record, its history and most importantly its reason for existing. Its mission statement/headline principles/raison detre whatever you want to call it. As you’d expect, I agreed wholeheartedly with some aspects and disagreed with others. However, on balance and over a period of time, I decided that I’d vote to leave. There was no single defining reason, it was a whole host of reasons. Since that time I think I’ve decided that whilst I love the ideology of the EUs principles, I think they are just that. An ideology. Kinda similar to my views on the socialism ideology. As a view its extremely hard to argue with, in reality, a society isn’t as honest, fair and reasoned as they should be and contain a massive cross section of attitudes and motivations. Therefore greed, self desire and basic animal instincts take over. Sadly, its proven to never work in a ‘real’ society.
I was (and still am) concerned about the state of other member nations, their social fabric, their political situations and their financial well being. I’m hugely concerned about the ever rising position of the far-right and wonder if the EU is unwittingly fuelling the ugly fire there too (obviously another debate and more social research required on this one). I’m concerned that being in the EU has done nothing to dampen these fires long term and that currently things have seemingly got worse not better under their banner. A few serious financial problems here and there have been swept under the carpet but they’ll resurface, uglier and harder to solve than they were before. The political situations have become more unstable in many countries and I’m surprised no commentators have sought to establish a link. Maybe there isn’t one and I’m thinking too hard about it but I see harm not good.
So, after 43 years of not being able to have a say (no I’m not that old) I was given a chance to at least tick a box to express my view. So, after said research and I’ll admit, a heavy heart, I put my cross next to ‘Leave’.
What I voted for…
Now, at the time, trust me, I believed leave meant leave. I watched on in horror as over the next few weeks I started to hear the term ‘Soft Brexit’. I didn’t vote for a soft Brexit. I’d never heard of it before, I voted leave, I didn’t even know what ‘soft brexit’ meant until I researched it (god, this was taking up some time!). I assumed that if the UK voted leave, we’d approach the EU, tell them we were going and ask if they’d be interested in a deal to help us all (EU & UK) over the ensuing years. I’ll also admit that I thought the UK as a whole would suffer economically a bit for a few years but that in the longer term, we’d be a stronger country, with wider trade relations and partnerships worldwide. Due to them having to be more accountable and taking responsibility for their actions, I also believed we might, ultimately, have better politicians. I believed we’d be even more multi-cultural given we’d have the chance to encourage employees from a wider net than we currently do, albeit one we could control better to suit the infrastructural demands that an increasing population requires.
I now come to the area that hurts me (if anyone cares). Just because I voted leave doesn’t automatically make me a racist, a xenophobe, jingoistic, old, stupid, selfish, tory, privileged (although I am in many ways), a Boris lover, or anything else you may want to label me. I think I’m intelligent (relative I know), careful, thoughtful, caring, loving and generally keep myself to myself. Many people who stand up for the leave campaign and who are in the public eye, do NOT represent my views. In fact, of the ones I’ve seen, most don’t represent me at all, please don’t put me in that box.
All my contacts/friends who’re adding ‘shares’ and ‘likes’ (from both sides of the debate) on their Facebook and Twitter feeds, have you stopped for one minute and looked at who has generated that meme or ‘bite’ you’re so willing to inform the rest of us about? Are you sure you want them to represent you? Do you really think you’re doing any good with your share? Stand up for yourself, believe in what you want to believe in on your own two feet. Do a bit of ‘boot on the other foot’ thinking. We have a modern day belief that all opinion is valid and equal. Where did that come from? It isn’t and never should be. (It’s where democracy fails miserably).
Logic? Where has logic gone? After 43 years without a say on Europe, we’re given one. Now, because the minority (48%) don’t like the result, we want another vote. Logically, where does that lead us? An EU referendum every 2/3 years? If we now vote remain, regardless of the %ge split, do we have another vote in 2/3 years time when the EU change a law/trade agreement/budget/member state etc etc etc because ‘we didn’t know what we voted for’? Where does it stop? Do we give ‘the people’ a chance to ratify every decision Government makes? Marches of a million people, petitions of x million people should make no difference, we had a vote, a UK wide vote of the whole population. If that stands for nothing then what happens next? If ‘remain’ had won the vote 52/48, seriously, would you even countenance talk of a second referendum to make sure we really wanted to remain when the EU altered something we didn’t know at the time?
We elect an MP locally to represent the region’s views in parliament. To represent it’s views for the next 5 years. We do this because it isn’t practical to hold a referendum on every issue that comes to parliament. Those politicians are meant to represent our local views in parliament on national issues. The EU vote wasn’t party political, it wasn’t split into region or country or area. Yes it was counted regionally for practical reasons but not any other. MPs saying they represent a constituency on the EU vote are wrong. They don’t. They didn’t stand for election based on their views, they weren’t elected to parliament on their EU views. They should stop with party and regional politics and represent the UK vote. They didn’t stand, nor were they elected on the EU referendum.
Logically, the UK voted leave. The only debate parliament should be having is can we get a deal. The answer appears to be no. Obtaining Customs and Trade Unions (soft brexit) means we are not leaving (given the principles the EU sets out under its own banner). Its remain in everything but name with the added complication of no representation.
Having worked in business for decades, negotiations at this level are hard. If our approach had been as it should have been, (we’re leaving, this could be disruptive to both, shall we sit down and construct a way to minimise this) we might have got a trade deal. We didn’t and we haven’t. Taking our most powerful weapon off the table (no deal) not only weakens the negotiation, it destroys it.
MPs and people who voted remain and can’t accept it, talk about no deal in an inflammatory way. In fact, it has now become known as “catastrophic no deal”. In the age of sound bites, this language trickles into the brain unless you stop for a second and consider the statement. What is a catastrophe? “An event causing great and usually sudden damage or suffering; a disaster”. Now that is quite some use of language. I assume they aren’t likening No Deal Brexit to Cyclone Idai or any of the natural disasters that so sadly hit around the world killing thousands and leaving survivors with years of hardship and trauma.
So what do they mean? Do they mean, ultimately, that things will be different? That the economy will have to adjust itself. That we will suffer hardship financially long term? We may have to adjust, adapt and improve. We may have to re-align our business ideas and approaches. We may need to seek new partnerships and trade with new businesses. Things may be awkward for a few months, even years. But catastrophe? Really? We are the 5th largest economy in the world. Has any MP actually worked in business and dealt with other businesses in the world? Have they any idea how businesses work? To be successful you have to adapt, alter strategies and partners all the time. It’s what business means. You don’t just sit there waiting for the world to come to you. it won’t. You go out there and you forge relationships, you network, you diversify, you risk assess, you create, you design, you be flexible. If you don’t do these things, you’ll fail, whatever your restrictions or freedoms.
The Government’s economists have predicted a 6-9% drop in the economy in the long term, now, if that’s true, what does that really mean? That we all lose our jobs and become homeless with no food to eat or water to drink? (Is 6-9% over 15 years catastrophic?). No, it doesn’t of course. This prediction was put out by the same economists that failed to predict the financial crisis of 2008, that said if the UK voted ‘Leave’ the economy would suffer damaging effects. “The central conclusion of the analysis is that the effect of this profound shock would be to push the UK into recession and lead to a sharp rise in unemployment.” This comes from HM Treasury, published in May 2016 and available to read here. I personally find it staggering that these so called ‘experts’ are never publicly held to account for such total and utter twaddle. Two years on we obviously see a completely different set of numbers. For these types of reasons I refuse to listen to any economists prediction on the future. They simply have no idea whatsoever. How could they, markets and outcomes can change in an instant but overall they are robust, sophisticated and secure over the longer term. Nothing is perfect obviously, improvements need to be made in every walk of life but overall, they’ve stood the test of time despite some pretty distracting and devastating events worldwide.
This is another phrase the media, social media, right-wing activists and MPs have corrupted and almost outlawed. It’s time we reclaimed it for us ‘ordinary’ people. Im proud to be European, British and English. There, I said it! Why shouldn’t I be able to? Why has our nations flag come to mean something sinister? How dare anyone take that away from me and make me feel guilty displaying or feeling it. Why have we allowed it to become a symbol for hate and intolerance? I can’t think of any other country in the world where this situation exists (it probably does somewhere but I’m not sure where).
If I was Welsh or Scottish (or pretty much any other nationality), I can wear my flag on my lapel, on my car, in my house, on my business, fly it at my local pub, wear or display it, lets be honest, anywhere I like and I’m seen as being proud of my country. However, if I was to display the Cross of St George anywhere I would immediately be labelled by many (not all I’ll admit) as a thug, right-wing, stupid, ignorant, offensive etc etc. Why is this? I’m not responsible for anything that happened historically. I wasn’t born then, I hate it as much as no doubt the Germans hate their past, so why is it seen as such an offensive, intolerant symbol? If it’s beyond redemption, can we have a new one please? I’m sick of being embarrassed about it. I’m proud of my country, the UK and of England.
I love living here, living in one of the most multi-cultural, free societies in the world. Why shouldn’t I be proud? Yes, we have difficulties, disagreements, crime, health issues etc but, lets be fair, it’s a lovely place to live? And maybe there’s the rub. We’ve lived such a privileged lifestyle (relatively compared to the rest of the world), free(ish) access to healthcare, a welfare system, low unemployment, a well regarded police force, a relatively fair justice system, that we’ve lost touch. Lost sight of what ‘bad’ is? I know that most other nations are extremely envious of our infrastructure, our economy, our status, our financial situation, our standard of living and pretty much everything else. Maybe we, the people, generally don’t appreciate what we have and what our little country provides us with.
I often think we all need a reality check at times. We sit around and are laughably negative about almost everything, it’s part of what makes us British, moaning about the weather and anything else we can find to moan about. However, we’ve lost our identity (no, not because of immigration, its obviously not what I mean) our belief system and what it means to be lucky enough to live here.
As a country, we can’t change the world and make it a better place on our own (history proves that) but we can exist in harmony and assist where we can. With our friends and neighbours in Europe and hopefully, our friends across the globe too, we can remain helpful and tolerant in the world. We’re better as a nation than we’re currently displaying, we’re cleverer than this and we’re fairer than this.
We conducted a National vote, we voted to leave for all sorts of reasons but the result was clear. Please lets just get on with it, leave without a deal (we can always negotiate one afterwards anyway can’t we? Note to self: more research needed!), stand up, be strong and believe in ourselves, in Britain. We’re pretty damn awesome. The outcome will hopefully pleasantly surprise us all.
PS If you made it this far then thank you for your time. I don’t expect you’ve changed your view either way but hopefully, just for a second, I’ve provided you with an insight into one persons reasons for voting leave. Good luck over the coming months/years and I’m sure we’ll find a way to keep on smiling and genuinely be proud of our nation (in a good way!)