On 23rd June over 17 million people voted in favour of the UK leaving the European Union. On that same day, over 16 million people voted to remain. That is over 33 million people that organised a proxy, walked to a post box with a postal vote or made their way to a polling station, to cast their vote and have their say.
It would be nearly impossible to canvas every single one of these people and ask them why they voted the way they did. It is impossible to accurately say what every person was trying to tell their elected representatives and commentators are analysing furiously. What it is fair to argue though, is that the figures tell us that we are living in a deeply divided country.
I also believe what the high voter turn-out is certainly telling us is that people want their voice heard. What they do not want and what they do not deserve is the shower of playground politics that they have been delivered of over the last week or so. I have been a news-interested, politics-fascinated soul for as long as I can remember. Whether it was the Thatcher/ Howe/ Heseltine issues unfurling, the Blair/ Brown Prime Ministerial relay race play out or the speculation about Cameron/ Osborne and the 'Big' job, I have read and watched, fascinated. We are sadly used to insular, inward squabbles and battles between our politicians.
Now, I sit aghast as the Labour party appears to implode and the Tories tear themselves apart with the unfurling Gove v Boris melodrama being the latest in a week of sorry sagas. My reaction is due to this being such a serious moment in our history and because we are in utterly uncharted territory. I admit to feeling worried by the social and economic repercussions felt in the first week following the vote and the ramifications yet to come. A proportion of the country are arguably feeling angry and disgusted and whether they believed, 'Britain stronger In' or subscribed to the 'take back control' slogan, both sides have expressed themselves. Astoundingly, in spite of all of this, what we seem to have is a political class continuing in a way precisely how I believe the electorate of all persuasions, is feeling, that being - they're not listening to us. Stamped feet all around, I fear.
If they were children, politicians of both the red or blue hue would be told to stop having a tantrum and sit on the naughty step to think about their behaviour. They would be asked to go somewhere quiet for time out to consider their actions and how they can behave differently and better in the future.
We are in uncertain times and now is not the time to feel that our MPs are behaving like spoilt toddlers, arguing over the ipad, the new toy or who gets the last organic chocolate in a way that spotlights and widens the 'them and us' chasm and disconnects them from the very many people who's daily lives are difficult. Lives that are made difficult through job uncertainty; welfare benefit changes; worry over accessing their GP or a good school place; and now, what will happen to their savings or mortgage; alarmed about the effect on their plans to retire to somewhere in the EU or concerned that the job or study opportunity they hoped to take in Europe may now be withdrawn.
Instead of holing up in Westminster in metaphorical bear pits, ripping each other apart, politicians should all be looking to their constituents; listening and understanding what is being said and indeed going unsaid. I feel like I am watching one of those documentaries where the children have been let loose with no supervision and just piles of sweets to sugar dope them and inform both their decisions and random acts, with the chance that a leader may emerge and a society may be settled, but equally, every possibility that in the process there will be much bullying, exclusion and certainly chaos.
Politicians got us into this present situation. They gave the country a referendum and they now have to help and guide the country to deal with the result. It may not have been what some expected but they gambled. They took a massive chance. Like a petulant tot the referendum was chucked at the country with what I always felt was a dollop of," Well it's what you all wanted" and probably the hope that the electorate would say, "there there, let's just have juice and a biscuit and say sorry and forget about it all". They played politics with all of our lives and we are where so many people never expected to be. I am bewildered that at a time when many people have used their X to revolt, Westminster has responded with yet more of what many people probably voted against. There is anger on both sides of the voting divide and we do not need to be patronised or ignored. We need serious, sensible, intelligent politicians that above all listen and then act with integrity and provide strong leadership that can be trusted and give us all faith. With economic turmoil and emotions running high on all sides, I fear what history will say about this time if we do not.
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