Saturday, 25 June 2016
Why the public should never have voted in an EU referendum
Tomorrow Great Britain will wake to the day after the EU referendum with the majority of the population possibly nursing a hangover but for such different reasons. I wanted to take a moment to think about the referendum and why I think it should never have taken place.
Every British citizen in the UK from the age of 18 upwards had a right to vote, including those who had left the UK less than 15 years ago - so that included me as I left 9 years ago. Democracy is a right not afforded to everyone in the world and for that we should be grateful. So why I am I saying we should not have had an EU referendum?
This is why:
The public was been given the chance to vote on something where the outcome would have far reaching effects on the social, political and economic future of Great Britain yet I fear many had no understanding of what remaining or leaving would actually entail. The information fed to the public, on both sides was, in a mixture of half truths, misinformation, confusing statistics, propaganda with just a spattering of good factual information tucked underneath if you took the time to hunt it down or even knew where to look. Add then add to this a scary amount of hate propaganda to really spice things up.
So what if you based your vote on the half truths, misinformation, confusing statistics, propaganda or hate?
A few days ago I was talking to a friend, a lady in her 60s who has worked hard all her life in low paid jobs and brought up 3 children (one with learning difficulties) without state help. She was thinking about voting out because she believed Great Britain puts far too much of HER money into the EU and this will only increase as other countries are allowed to join who she believes are in financial difficulties. Immigration was not an issue to her and she is not a racist.
Our EU contributions amount to just 0.6% of the UK's annul total expenditure and the amount each person pays per day is less that the price of buying The Sun every day. Her husband reads The Sun. She has no internet and her only source of information will be The Sun, the ITV news she sometimes watches and her friends. She admitted she didn't know the effect of voting in or out but she was swaying towards out for financial reasons.
Already since the result we have seen the pound fall by the single biggest amount in 31 years thus making goods imported into the UK more expensive. Look around and tell me how much of what you can see around you was imported? Clothes from China, car from Europe, food from around the world? I would hazard a guess and say not many British made goods. With a weak pound I now reckon the higher price of imported goods will cost each citizen more than the money the UK puts into the EU per head. I hope I am wrong but I fear I am not. Oh and as for £350,000,000 per week (or 78p per person per day), apparently that was a half truth as it did not make any mention of the money we got BACK form the EU. But hey, who needs the whole truth when you are voting for your country's future?
My friend thought she would be financially better off out of the EU and on that issue alone she put a cross in the leave box. Her vote counted towards all the votes and now the UK is leaving the EU.
I very much doubt she was alone.
Some, it would seem, did not even know what the EU is and Google reported that 8 hours after the polls closed searches for the term "what happens if we leave the EU" had more than tripled. A woman was also reported on the ITV news as saying she is: "very disappointed" by the results. The woman continued by saying that "reality" has now hit her and that given her chance again she would vote to remain. She based her decision on the (mis)information she heard and saw up to the time of the vote.
The public was asked to vote on something that will have long and far reaching effects yet many people had no idea which way to vote as they did not understand the implications of either staying or leaving. In a general election if you vote in a party you don't like you get the chance to chuck them out again in a few years time. There is no chance to return to the EU now we have voted out. Is this really something that was fair to ask the public to vote on?
And I have not even discussed the hateful xenophobia whipped up by certain right wing parties and individuals nor the fact that the greatest percentage of leave voters were in the over 65 age bracket and will not be around to see the long term effects of their vote because there will be repercussions for many years to come.
I did plenty of research before casting my vote and my feeling, based on what I read and what I saw in this video leads me to feel that the future may not be as rosy as many leave voters expect.
But I will finish on one note. The decision has now been made and whilst there are calls for a second referendum the British public must live with the future they have voted for. Like fledgling chicks thrown from the nest by parents who no longer wish to feed and look after them, the UK is now on its own. Some fledglings flourish and fly high. Others tumble downwards to a painful end. How the newly fledged UK manages over the coming years rests, not only in the hands of the politicians, but also in the hands of the British public ... but do they know what they can do to help their country fly high? Let's hope some-one feeds them facts from now on and not that diet of half truths, misinformation, confusing statistics, propaganda and hate they have been fed to date.