So, we have had a referendum and the population have decided they want to leave the EU. A straight forward question was asked, do you want to remain in the EU or to Leave the EU. The options on the ballot paper were remain or leave. There was no other options and like all elections in this country, the voter does not have to give a reason.
In this country we generally run our elections (and referendums) on a first past the post system. We did have a referendum about changing the voting system a few years ago and the current system was the the preferred choice.
In an election with only 2 choices, there is no question of other voting systems, one option will get more votes than the other. So, you would have thought that it was simple in a democracy that one outcome is chosen by a majority of the voters. Sadly the reaction of some of the remain voters (and I make it clear, it is only some of them) is so anti democratic it is incredible.
Reading on social media, it is mainly younger people who have reacted in this way, perhaps goaded on by some senior politicians and commentators.
Those who voted leave have been called many abusive terms, including:
It has been said that the older generation:
Have Destroyed the Country
Have Destroyed the future for young people
Have Destroyed Europe
Have Acted selfishly
Know nothing about Europe or the EU
Are out of touch
What those making such allegations and throwing such abuse have failed to grasp is that the majority of those who voted did so to leave the EU.
Now democracy means that you accept the majority decision whether that is for you or against you. You do not have to like the decision of the majority, but it is the decision of the majority.
As well as the abuse and insults we also have a petition calling for the government to hold another referendum, and then presumably another one ad nauseum until the majority vote to remain. Now, ignoring the decision of the majority in a 2 option election is not democracy, but this seems to have passed by those remain supporters. Many of them talk about the EU having protected democracy and our rights, but then they ignore democracy and the rights of the majority!
Another thing that intrigues me about this is the fact that it is predominantly younger people acting in this way. I have many friends young and old who voted remain and who accepted the decision reluctantly.
I think it is significant and a reflection on older generations that the younger element of voters have behaved in a way that can only be described as throwing their toys out of the pram. Why ?
Well for many years now, probably the last 30 years, it has been frowned on to discipline children ( no I do not mean corporal punishment). We have moved increasingly to a world where children are treated as little princes and princesses who can do no wrong. Children are not disciplined for doing wrong, or even for disobeying openly their parents. This results in children and young people growing up being used to getting their own way at every turn.
For many of the younger voters, it has come as a shock to realise they can’t get their own way this time. Hence the tantrums and the throwing of the toys out of the pram. The older generations have to take a lot of the blame for having raised a generation who think the world revolves around them and their desires.
As the dust settles on the referendum results, the more sensible people will realise the sun still rose and set on the United Kingdom on both Friday and on Saturday and that in reality very little has changed. In fact absolutely nothing has changed as Britian has not given the relevant Article 50 Notification to the EU and even after it does there will be a period of at least 2 years ( extendable by agreement) before things change in reality, if at all.
Britain will still be trading with the EU and vice versa. Britains will still travel to the EU and vice versa. In reality the only difference will be you go through the opposite channel at passport control. This used to happen, and will still happen. There are no border controls within the EU, so once you have entered the EU you will not notice any difference. Indeed now when you enter the EU you have to show your passport , as you will after the UK leave the EU. We never needed visas to travel to EU countries before the open border policy was introduced and there is no reason to think we will afterwards.
There were so many scare stories (and lies / false information) spread during the referendum campaign that it was hard to find what was true. Some of those supporting Brexit for example suggested that leaving the EU would mean we were no longer bound by the European Convention on Human Rights and would no longer be subject to adverse rulings by the European Court of Human Rights. Both are nonsense as the Convention and the Court are nothing to do with the EU. Indeed the Convention was formed in the aftermath of the Second World War and Britain was a driving force behind this. The Convention came into effect before even the European Coal and Steel Community, which was the forerunner to the EU. So its nonsense to suggest Brexit would stop Britain being subject to the Convention or the Court. We would have to withdraw our signature to the Convention for that to happen, and it will not happen.
I know I have criticised young people in this thread, as well as the older generation. Well, one member of the younger generation posted this on Facebook today. A gesture of
reconciliation towards those who voted on different sides. Only to be told by a member of the older generation and a practicing Christian that it was too early! This was posted on the younger person’s wall and not in anyway directed at any one person. The said member of the older generation took it on himself to post the response prolonging divide and hatred. Someone who has clearly forgotten the teachings of his religion about loving thy neighbour and about turning the other cheek. Another example of the older generation making the situation we find ourselves in worse.
Whilst I am on my soapbox ( again), let me mention the opinion polls. In both the last General Election and this referendum, the opinion polls generally called the result the opposite way to the outcome. You may wonder why that is. Is it because the polls are conducted in a defective way? It may be, but I think there is another reason for it. The way the election and referendum campaigns were conducted by many on the left of the political spectrum has been to harass and bully and shout down those who hold views they disagree with.
For many years for example, many people have been concerned about the rising tide of immigration. However the reaction of many on the left ( not all I hasten to add) has been to shout down those concerns as being those of “racists” or “little Englanders”. Very often those concerns have not been racist at all, but borne out of a concern for the effect it is having on the country and the lives of the individuals. Sometimes the views were borne out of racism, but sometimes they weren’t. Instead of their being a sensible debate about the issues, people were silenced by bullying, name calling and insults.
This silences any form of sensible debate about people’s concerns. Whether right or wrong, people are concerned about issues. To bully people into silence does not solve the problem, it just stifles debate. The writing has been on the wall for many years as the rise of UKIP has shown. The more those on the left tried to stifle debate, the stronger and more popular parties like UKIP became. Nigel Farage for all his faults (and there are many) at least gave a voice to the immigration issue and to the EU questions. Foolishly those on the left and indeed many in the Conservative Party as well failed to heed this warning and continued to shout down anyone who raised concerns re EU or immigration.
It was the same with anyone who professed support for the Conservative Party as opposed to the Labour Party. They were shouted down. Rather than deal with the issues people raised about why for example they did not support the Labour Party, the left preferred to bully and insult those who did not agree with them.
No where was this more evident than in the run up to the last election when opinion poll after opinion poll suggested a Labour majority, but on election day the Conservatives won with a majority of seats. Why? I would venture to suggest those who were voting Conservative simply kept quiet and voted Conservative for fear of being heckled and shouted down by the bullying behaviour of many on the left. People would not say they were going to vote Conservative for fear of the abuse they would get. Debate is one thing, but the abuse is something different. The accusations of the Conservative party as being bullying, the party of hate, the nasty party etc simply silences their supporters in the debate, but the election is a secret ballot and those conservative supporters ensured their voices were heard.
Exactly the same thing happened in the referendum campaign. The majority were heckled and abused for their views, so kept their heads down and did their business where it matters, at the polling station.
Unless and until there is a realisation that the tactics of the Unions in the early 1970s at mass meetings where votes were by a show of hands will not work when there is a secret ballot then there is I would suggest going to be an increasing swing away from the left which is a shame. In particular, the lack of public debate allows the growth of extreme ideology because it is not challenged by debate. Bullying people to keep out of a debate only pushes those views underground. If your opponent is wrong, then this should be exposed by debate and argument, not by bullying and intimidation in public.
So, it may be that some of the younger generation have thrown their toys out of the pram and behaved in a very undemocratic way, but a large part of the blame for this situation must come from the generations that brought them up and treated them like spoiled individuals who expect always to get their own way.
Final thought, one of the things we have heard since the result is announced is some people claiming to regret voting Leave, one person for example said they voted leave but never thought it would happen so they voted leave when actually they wanted to remain in the EU. Whether this is genuine or not I do not know, but if it is it beggars belief at the intelligence of some people. What do they think a vote is for?