THE BLOG

Who to Blame for Brexit

28/06/2016 10:57

What a ride it's been. After all the mud-slinging, roaring and shouting, the dust has cleared, and it's a rather sorry sight. Feels a bit like that moment when, even though it's 3am you decide the best thing to do was tp keep drinking. The hangover is much, much worse. As is the clearing up.

Yet who can we actually blame for this? Why none other than ourselves, the British public. The aftermath of the vote feels just as hate-filled and bigoted as the run-up to the vote. You've got the young people, who are complaining that the older generation have ruined their lives. You've got those complaining that everyone that voted leave was too stupid to understand what they were voting for (you can find a vox pop for anything. Finding four stupid people in Barnsley does not explain away the opinions of 52% of the voting turnout). After months of sniping that bordered on the downright racist, this result is now being used to further drive a wedge between the public. And that is the most dangerous outcome of all.

So the public felt misinformed? I'm not surprised. Ridiculous claims and counter-claims were bandied about on both sides. Only through careful reading, research and looking at a range of news sources could anyone be able to make sense of this.

So they didn't think their vote would count? I'm saddened, but not surprised. In a country of first past the post, people are so used to their votes counting for nothing unless they are in a particular area, it isn't particularly shocking to find some people that weren't aware of the impact. Not that I'm condoning it. People that choose note to vote or underestimate the power of their vote are pissing all over years of inequality, and if nothing else this result should be a cold shower of a wake up for some - your vote does indeed count, so use it wisely.

And there were concrete arguments for leaving the EU. While I am altogether in favour of belonging to it, I can see why, with the threat of things like TTIP, some were concerned that the EU would support the 1%, would put themselves in the pockets of businesspeople and their ecological and social concerns would go unanswered. Personally, my main concern there relates to the people leading the charge in the Leave campaign. Hardly bastions for equality and a fair society. Any day that sees far-right politicians across the globe cheering for the UK is a sad day for the country indeed.

But what it has revealed, more than anything, is that we are a divided country. This vote was about inequality. It could well have been me, furious with the upper classes at the lack of opportunity. I started university in 1999. I just managed to get out of fees (which were means tested) and spent my student loan (no, I haven't begun to pay it off, 15 years later) on rent and food, while others were putting them into ISAs. Even then, I felt the burn of how unfair it was, that I was hefting plates at pubs and cleaning tables while others jollied around the Med in their summer holidays. But at least I got a degree. My earning potential, as a teacher after ten years, is very good. I can make a living for myself, I can live in London, I can (just) afford a mortgage. But most people can't. And, rightly so, they are furious. They see the disparities between themselves and others the same age and they are very, very angry. So what are we going to do about it? Unfortunately, I feel this anger has been misdirected. The resulting (probable) recession and cuts will, no doubt, fall on those who asked for change more heavily than others. The 1% will sail happily on, more free than ever to make changes that could undermine the rights of women, disabled, the underprivileged, exactly the people that voted for this change.

So, enough is enough. Yes, I'm disappointed, and so are many people. But I'm more disappointed that Britain is so divided, so filled with hate and blame that it is willing to cut its own nose off to spite its face. We are still the people that elected, voted for, change, whether we wanted it or not. So what exactly is this new Britain going to look like, and how can we, truly, start listening to each other and working together to create something that we can once more be proud of?

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