This is an unusual post, but then it has been an unusual week. They say that a week is a long time in politics but recently event hours have been a long time in Politics. I haven’t been able to write much due partly to illness, work and also the various but related events I will write about below.
As most people will know, the U.K. was shocked just over a week ago but the tragic murder of a young, talented, kind and selfless MP. It was a terrible event and as always seems to be the case, couldn’t have happened to a nicer person.
I’d been unhappy with the increasingly hostile tone in British public life in the last few weeks. You may have heard there was a referendum happening and as a very low-profile Brexiter, I saw nothing but increasingly hateful, irrational posts as the big voting day.
I wrote the following on my Facebook page the day Jo Cox was murdered
I’ve never been one for thinking politicians, even from the parties I don’t vote for, are selfish or horrible people. They all go into politics to help people and do what they think is best. I’ve known enough to know they are decent people who have friends and interests across party lines.
Politics in the UK doesn’t pay that much, even the rich ones could likely make more money working in different areas. An MP even today makes only £74K which yes is around 3 times the average UK salary but its hardly a fortune. Even the Prime Minister makes only around £142K ($200K) which again is much better than I am on but hardly much for leading one of the most prosperous and important nations on Earth. Many many people in the private sector earn more as do countless EU bureaucrats.
We all have access to our politicians. We can all go into Parliament, meet our MPs without any barriers or checks. It’s really precious that we live in a country where we don’t go round killing each other, hating each other. Having such easy access to our MPs and even Prime Minister is not something many other peoples have.
Even in my two years of tours, I have chatted to all sort of politicians around Westminster so whether it is the PM or the Beast of Bolsover, Corbyn or Boris, they aren’t bad people. In fact every one I’ve met has been nice on a personal level.
It would be really nice if we all remember this and perhaps even the media take their default view of everyone lying or cheating or simply hating them as they aren’t in their party. We should respect them more, sometimes they should respect us more too.
If someone as unknown as Jo Cox could do so much not just for her constituents but for people around the world then maybe we should remember that the 600+ others are likely doing the same.
It might be nice to hear these good things from time to time in the news and not wait for them to die. Not to treat them as little more than scum as we as individuals didn’t vote for them.
It might not be for your or my favourite cause but they are doing their best to help and serve as we voted them to do.
Thankfully despite what Sarah Palin said, not a single person in the U.K. though carrying guns was the answer, in fact the armed murderer was arrested without being shot.
I was once more glad I live in the U.K when campaigning on the referendum was cancelled for a number of days. It showed what a thoroughly decent country we live in when without exception, all the opposing politicians voiced their love of Jo and mortal enemies Jeremy Corbyn and the Prime Minister stood together to offer condolences and pay respect. One of the finest articles I read was by one of Jo’s opponents, Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/16/my-fearless-friend-jo-cox-a-five-foot-bundle-of-yorkshire-grit/
The murder of Jo affected me a great deal as I believe it did many people. She was very big on tackling extremism on both sides of the debate. To me though perhaps the very most extreme people were on the Brexit side, the overall level of hatred was clearly much greater on the Remain side.
Some high-flying figures on the Brexit campaign were heavily weighing on the charged issue of immigration though in reality most of the debate wasn’t about that at all. In fact, not one person I know who voted leave had immigration has a major issue.
On the Remain side, they hyped up what was to become known as ‘Project Fear’. Every possible disaster and many impossible events were promised if we left the EU. Financial melt-down, the collapse of Europe and Western Civilisation, even World War 3. It was also hypocritical, our little country that apparently was so irrelevant that it would be ignored and slighted not just by Europe but by our Allies was also so overwhelmingly powerful that just by exercising our democratic option, I could bring about WW3.
Perhaps if the EU had offered just a little bit of reform that the Prime Minister initially hoped for as did many Remainers then we might have stayed. The more and more rich American corporations (oh yes, I think it is perfectly valid for New York bankers to try and maintain the status quo, NOT), President Obama and various EU officials threatened us with disaster, the more that I and 52% of the country decided that we were more and more determined to do what we wanted to do.
At first, the threat of Brexit was seen as a farce. No-one, not even most Brexiters thought it would happen. I certainly didn’t, the British people are normally far too conservative to do anything revolutionary. That coupled with the entire resources of the British State, EU, and banks, millionaires and others with vested interested made me convinced that generally the people would want to leave but be too timid to do so’.
I’m not sure why everyone though Remain would so easily in. In the world of Social Media, everyone seemed to be making fun of the vote, but as the vote drew near, they began to realise that they were in a fight and then things turned nasty. People who wanted to vote to leave were insulted in many ways. Stupid, idiotic, moronic, narrow-minded, racist, bigoted, inward looking, xenophobic… the list goes on.
Yet in the real world, I knew only one person who wanted to stay in and even they were doing so with some reservation. I only knew people who were thoroughly for leaving. Old people, young people. Rich people, poor people. White born British and ethnic minorities.
I had said for years that the trendy elite of society wasn’t in touch with the real world. The Westminster bubble it is sometimes said to be called, but it includes much of the Media including the BBC and a large amount of the trendy latte drinking crowds of London and many other cities. Maybe it is because I am very happy to mix with a wide circle of society? Maybe it is because I am unusually selfless or am just interested in politics but what politicians of all sides were saying, didn’t match up with my ideas or many people I met but you’d never know that from the establishment. As Bryony Gordon wrote in the Daily Telegraph, cocooning yourself with a like-minded group of friends on Twitter just means you remain ignorant of the larger world and sooner or later you will get a shock…. which I guess is now for many.
The Referendum vote was a difficult choice but thankfully we Iive in a democracy where we were given the option to vote. Out of a ranking of 1-10 I would rate staying in an EU of the 1970-80’s variety (where it is solely a trade related body) 10, going Independent at 8, staying in the existing EU as 6 and continuing in the EU as it is set to go as a 2. I took the best option on offer and three days in despite the foreseeable bad things that have happened and the fear mongering prophecies that didn’t, I’m very happy with my decision and I look forward to the future with several hurdles and setbacks to be overcome and the even greater undoubted opportunities that will appear. I see those who attack us as immature sore losers, arrogant and the truly ignorant ones. Nothing stops a new Pro-EU party to appear but of course few would willingly join the EU from scratch in this country today. It was always about making the best of a bad situation.
I voted out but I’m not a gloater, and I knew there were down sides to each possibility. I kept quiet when I was unhappy about the EU, and I’ll keep quiet now I’m happy now too! As before the vote, the only vitriol seems to be from Remainers. Not sure in or out makes much difference ro the average Joe. It’s up to us to elect better politicians and create a nicer society ourselves whether we are ruled from Brussels or Westminster.
As I said many times last week when poor Jo Cox was murdered. I really respect both sides and don’t think there is a 100% right or wrong answer. I don’t blame anyone for voting in or out. It’s complicated, and everyone has there own situation. I’m married to an East European, studied Islam and Middle-East for four years and have my own business … all things that supposedly should make me vote in according to government propaganda, but it’s definitely not even close for me. We should all be able to disagree and not insult or belittle those of opposing views. (not saying you have, but that’s the general feeling I have from the Remain PR machine). We got given the choice; the Leave Vote is just as valid a conclusion to come to as Remain.
I’ve written before how the EU has cost me money in my business. And as a Sole Trader, any money lost is effectively from my salary. No other major (possibly any) EU nation has a business/tax status equivalent to a Sole Trader, as such I have been charged German VAT rates on business between myself in the UK and customers in the USA, Canada, Australia, Russia, Singapore and most likely other places which I have been unable to get refunded… as I don’t have a VAT number. As a very very, small business owner who does every aspect of my business from advertising, inquiries, invoices, products, accounts and taxes… the EU definitely costs me money.
Even more so, without exception, every single tourist and Airbnb guest from the EU has said to me that they wish their country could leave the EU. Many of them were jealous of our opportunity to vote.
I’ve seen such vitriol recently from people unwilling to accept that my years of thought about the vote resulted in a different but valid conclusion to what they reached. People even asking me to unfriend them! And Leavers are meant to be the small minded ones. I’ve never ever criticised anyone for voting differently to me. I’ve voted for all three major political parties because as with this referendum, life is complicated and the same people don’t have all the answers, all the time so I make my mind up and except for one occasion, I’ve been on the winning side all but once since I could vote. If I can go 42 years without insulting and being offensive to those that like the EU, why can’t they go one day without doing the same to me? I voted out due to reasons of democracy and even when I spent months thinking I would be on the losing side, I was still thrilled that everyone was getting in on the process.
None of the options were ideal; no side had the virtue of all the benefits or indeed all the negatives.
I’m sorry to those whose side lost and the fact I don’t fit any of the insulting stereotypes flung my way. Perhaps more effort should be placed on addressing the problems of “those who didn’t benefit from the current system” so they can vote to rejoin in the future. I don’t see any posts like that, and we’ve had decades to get it right under both parties.
As for me, it was entirely a matter of principle and that requires the EU to change, not me. Love Europe, hate the EU.
I like all my friends, Remainers, Leavers, Green, Libdem, Labour and Conservative and though I find the treatment to me is insulting, if it were the other way round and someone asked me to drop a friend because of politics, I’d find it laughable but that is one of the nicer things said about me over the weekend.
Like other Leavers, I’ve been stereotyped as being one or all of the following: Stupid and Ignorant, Racist, Xenophobic, narrow-minded little Englander and Anti-European and so I thought I’d tackle each of these briefly.
- Stupid and ignorant- I know intelligence isn’t the same as wisdom, but I have two degrees in politics related subject up to Masters Level. I don’t think I’m stupid; there are certainly more ignorant people been abusing me as I kept a graceful silence before and after the vote. I;m not ignorant, I ready 4 national newspapers of all persuasions each day, I listen to political shows on the radio as I work and blog and watch at least one political show a day on television (yes that is how I spend my lunch times when I work from home).
- Racist & Xenophobic – This one is really really laughable. In the real world, I only have one white English friend. The rest are all Greeks, Indians, Arabs, Europeans of all nationalities. My wife is from Eastern Europe; we married before that country was in the EU. I spent 4 years studying Islam and the Middle East… the places I most want to visit in the world are Iran, Uzbekistan, Mongolia and Iraq. The places which I have visited and loved the most are all of a similar culture.
- Narrow Minded Englander and anti-European – I love Europe, I love Europeans, their history, their culture. I get upset when the Eurovision songs are now in English; I want to experience their language, clothes and dancing. Not a bad British-American hybrid. I’ve been to almost every European country and when I say European, I don’t mean a resort in Spain or by the sea (for I have never done such typically Euro-loving things) I mean go to Bosnia, get married in Romania, live, eat and travel with Poles or Berliners… not just get served a coffee in London by a nice Slovak girl.
The reason I voted to leave was primarily about Democracy and from what I can tell, all the Leavers I have spoken to, voted to Leave for the same reason, and that is one thing that the scaremongerers on the other side didn’t even tackle because there was no winning argument for them. The EU is thoroughly undemocratic and has what Leavers called “A Democratic Deficit” which even members of the Remain team in the government agreed with but was thought to be a price worth paying.
I believe the EU was a wonderful idea for the post-war world, and I would be 100% for it if it remained a trade-orientated body rather than a United States of Europe which is appearing through the back door without any voter in any European country being given the chance to vote on it.
Now I think it is just a drag on not just the UK but much of Europe. We should be concentrating on the World not Europe of which in large areas is economically irrelevant in comparison to China, the USA, India and the like. In an ideal world I’d like the UK tobe in a reformed EU, but otherwise, I fully support every other European country to follow our lead. Why the fear from the EU that nations might leave if the UK makes a success of it? Why not offer referendums to everyone right now? What is so bad with nations being friendly and allied but self-governed and accountable to the people?
Even as I write this on Sunday night, the Facebook posts are continuing. The initial hatred lessening but now we have a constant stream of people posting about apparent lies, people who voted to leave but thought it was a joke or a mistake. Why can’t people accept Democracy? No wonder they are having a hard time with the vote if most people voted for reasons of Democracy and did so democratically.
Why do the young complain about the old ruining their lives despite a large majority not voting and their parents and grandparents having given their lives for this precious thing called democracy? Why must people with a different opinion be thought of as stupid? What is more ignorant than thinking your opinion is better than someone else’s?
If anything all the noise about having second referendums or looking for people unhappy with the result or even the way they voted is just typical of the current situation where the majority of people feel they are outside of the political system, be it British, European, American or whoever. As Churchill said, Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others.
Even the media continues to play up the unjust feeling of the losers. Probably 90% of the television and radio airtime that I have heard has been of people griping about losing. Only the U.K. could in effect have an entirely peaceful democratic revolution with no emphasis on those who supported it.
I find it really insulting, and I’m sure if I were any sort of minority group then this sort of thing would be illegal, possibly some of it is. I’m sorry I’m a rounded person who has spent years coming to a reasonable and entirely legal and democratic decision that you might not agree with. I’m just happy that I live in a country where I can do this and I’m happy that for once, the majority of the people have spoken up for something entirely different than all the political parties, much of the media and big business wanted. That is real democracy. I’d have hoped the spirit and lesson of Jo Cox would last for more than a week, well it has in my house.
Perhaps the one figure who most closely matches my approach is Lord Digby Jones. I actually love this chap. He always talks the most sense on the Daily Politics Show and is very happy to criticise and praise politicians of all political parties.. surely the sensible option and one that I certainly follow. A former Labour minister I believe, obviously an experienced businessman and knowledgeable too. I also would have voted to stay in a reformed EU but that wasn’t on offer. I look forward with enthusiasm and excitement at taking on and being part of the wider world.