Saturday, 25 June 2016

The Betrayal of Democracy

If a referendum is won based on lies and not through persuasive argument then it is not a victory for democracy but a betrayal....
I want to lay my cards on the table right at the start of this article. I voted for my country to remain a part of the Europe Union and I spent a long time researching the facts and not just believing the loud and tiresome rhetoric of each campaign. I felt it was important that such a momentous decision was based on the facts and my opinion should be formed from an understanding of what my vote could signify. I discovered that the European Union was far from perfect and contained elements that I didn't like or agree with, it also supported and provided welcome money for things that I have come to regard as essential. I voted to remain because I firmly believed that by being a part of something that was bigger than one country we could help, inform and improve what the EU was. More than that though, I passionately believe that we must support countries who are not as stable as us and that when peoples very lives are suffered by bloody and senseless evil we should provide a safe haven. I voted to remain because I felt that to leave the EU constitutes a backward step and to do so would betray the very ideals of community and indeed the multi cultural dynamic that makes up our great nation. Ironically, I voted to remain out of intense national pride and my belief that this was what constituted the best interest of our country. I voted with my head and my heart but with my heart informed by the facts of what membership involved and not the knee jerk reactions of  desperation.

On Friday in the early hours of the morning it became clear that I was in the minority and that the Leave campaign had won a slightly higher percentage of the vote. This was enough to secure a win and even though a referendum doesn't constitute a legal mandate it was perceived that the government should honour the wish of the people. To be honest, I was deeply saddened by this decision as I believed that by voting to leave the EU our country would become fragmented and a far smaller and shadowy image of what it once was. I had grown very concerned during the campaign about the right wing elements that had been attracted to the Brexit cause and, whilst it was obvious that not everyone who supported them was xenophobic or militantly dangerous, there were large groups who were. My concern grew ever deeper as Nigel Farage proudly unveiled his anti immigration poster which had strong links to Nazi propaganda. The murder of Jo Cox MP by a man who had been radicalised many years ago but whose murderous hatred had been focused on a compassionate lady who's only crime seemed to be that she cared too much, led me to believe that the fringe elements of our society had been given a platform by the Brexit campaign. Whilst never openly courting them, the leaders needed the far right votes and it was only after the result was known that Boris Johnson sort to distance himself from Farage and his extremism. Cameron's resignation was inevitable and though it seemed a little premature, given market and sterling instability, I was determined to work through my own feelings and attempt to see this decision as a vote within a democratic system.

I simply cannot see how this is possible now and I want to discuss why I have reached this disturbing and awkward conclusion. My first issue is that it has become abundantly clear that a worrying number of of people who voted for Brexit had no clue about what they were voting for. Whether this was because they thoughtlessly believed the rhetoric, because they used their vote as an outcry against the Tories and austerity or any number of other reasons there are voters who have publicly expressed their horror as reality bites. I find this absolutely staggering and very, very concerning. There is no excuse for anyone to cast a vote on an issue of this magnitude and not have at least some basic grasp of the issues at play. A cursory search of the Internet will reveal any number of articles which put out the different issues in a straight forward manner. In addition to this, many surgeries or meetings were run in most of the boroughs with invites openly sent out to the public. This gave the undecided or ill informed voter the chance to listen and ask questions before the crucial day. So, to find that there were voters who cast a Brexit vote and did not know what this meant angers me. The second issue is that it has become clear that Brexit and the Leave campaign has been won through a tissue of lies and untruth. I am sure that those of you who are reading this will now be saying that I am clearly biased and this is just an example of sour grapes. I am angry and sad but I truly wanted to help make this work and to put my differences aside for the good of democracy. For this reason and for the love of my country I can do no such thing. Brexit lie number one was revealed scant hours after the result was known. 

This is the official Leavc Campaign battle bus and we now know that a large number of voters were persuaded by the slogan emblazoned on the side. We have been told that this was "a mistake" and we can assume that will mean that Brexit government will not be giving any of this extra money to the NHS. When it is a promise that is this prominent it could be construed as a pledge to the electorate and with Johnson, Gove both having conducted rallies in front of it to now label it as a mistake is also a lie. This means that anyone whose vote was influenced by this pledge have been lied to. Not a great start! Another issue that has been positioned centrally and the subject of much furious debate was that of immigration. Even the more moderate Brexiter has expressed concerns over border control and the perceived need to limit, to a far greater extent, the flow of migrants pouring into our country. Indeed, the rhetoric had been so strong that we were led to believe it was totally out of control and was impacting jobs, housing and putting pressure on our social care system. By voting Brexit our country would be able to control our borders and control far more effectively.

This has now been confirmed as a lie with Brexit Leaders now stating that the immigration levels and border controls are, more than likely, going to remain the same. With official published figures showing that the largest percentage of those seeking immigration are from outside of the EU and are already controllable by existing Visa systems and checks. Again, as with the false NHS promise tighter immigration was a big vote winner for Leave and it too was based on bad and deliberately misleading information. If I had voted to Leave and was discovering this I would be starting to feel that I had been played for a fool. We are only at Day 2, post referendum and we are still to hear any details on how we are actually going to exit the EU and with Cameron resigning without triggering Clause 50 and Brexit being deliberately vague about whether this is even necessary, there is a rather nasty possibility beginning to surface. What if the only intention that Brexit had for the referendum was to attempt to use the vote as leverage? Did they seriously think that they could broker a better deal for themselves with the EU leaders? I am not sure if this is the case but if it is, they may be about to receive a nasty wake up call. With EU Leaders signalling that renegotiation is not on the table and that Britain needs to leave as soon as possible, we have no option but to follow the wishes of the voting public. The voters who were conned by lies into believing this would improve our nation, in reality we are yet to be told a single provable reason why this is the case. Brexit Leaders are still formulating how they intend to proceed and, to be fair to them, it will probably be sometime before we have the details. In that respect, it is a case of waiting and seeing.

My other area of concern has been focused with the reaction from many Leave supporters and it is with this that I must voice my request. I , and countless other individuals who voted for remain, believe that remaining within the EU constituted the best decision for our country. I believed that removing ourselves from a Global Community that we have spent decades to help shape would be the wrong way to travel and that by doing so we place additional strain on our businesses and community. I still believe this and when I find out that it is very possible that the outcome would have been different without the lies and fear inducing propaganda that Brexit campaigners adopted I can't help feeling cheated. So, to all of you that voted for leave and still feel that this will make the United Kingdom (whichever countries remain to form this) stronger then I respect your opinion. Please do not presume to believe that those that voted Remain are voicing concerns and even anger motivated solely by sour grapes or petulance. Comments such as "get over it" or " live with it, this is democracy" are going to do you no favours and are not going to achieve anything but widen the gulf that exists within our very country. Understand that we believe a terrible wrong has been dealt to us and that this decision threatens to damage the country that we love. I will never agree that leaving the EU was a wise decision and I will never support a view point that has been given traction and votes based on lies. This plays fast and loose with the very ideals that form our democracy and supposedly make us a great nation. My real fear is that in moving away from Europe we will discover that, in reality, we are a small and voiceless nation who's Greatness was not earned but stolen by colonisation of other nations. My big concern is that we are about to enter a period of our history where we are about to discover who are friends really are, and that there aren't as many as we thought. Leave supporters, enjoy your Brave New World and I truly hope I am proved wrong, I really do!

One final comment, today, I have witnessed some horrendous examples of crass generalisation and ageist discrimination. The statistics that show that the Leave votes had a higher percentage of support from those aged over 40 but these statistics only show one side. Below is a breakdown of the voting turnout by age range and it clearly shows that the percentage of people aged between 18-24 that voted was embarrassingly low (36% compared to 72% of 35-44 and 75% of 45-54 with the percentage increasing to 81 and 83% for 55-64 and 65 +) The message couldn't be clearer. If you care enough to harangue those that are older than you, accusing them of ruining the country for your children or for yourselves, then I suggest you encourage more of your peers to get out and vote.

I don't expect everyone to agree with me and I am sure I will be accused of negative thinking and that I wouldn't have been stating this if the vote had gone my way. You are of course entitled to your opinion but I an proud of my country and I cannot stand by saying nothing whilst mistake after mistake is made. Isn't that how bigger and far greater crimes are committed, because people saw and said nothing. That's not the person I want to be.

No comments:

Post a comment