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.

13 comments :

  1. I had to calculate just what 78p per day ads up too which is £284.70 annually. While the lower dollar will effect the cost of imports negatively it should also have a positive impact on local production. I have to believe it is so because the decision for the Brits to leave the EU has also caused the Aussie dollar to fall.

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  2. Couldn't agree more. The campaigns on both sides were dirty, full of misinformation and mostly consisted of politicians shouting at each other. There's no way people could have made a reasoned decision based on this alone - but a lot of people did! The video you linked above should have been required viewing before being allowed to vote :-) (fortunately I did!).

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  3. A huge political miscalculation and mistake to allow the (mainly) ill-informed to vote on something they neither understand or are willing to educate themselves about. The propaganda on both sides has been appalling. I have been shocked by the levels of hate and insults posted online by people who should know better. With rights, come responsibilities, sadly often not present. Let us hope that the fall-out has minimal impact on our quality of life. Our position in Europe brought with it problems but instead of facing them we have chosen to turn our backs. A selfish and naive stance given the challenges we all face.

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  4. I could not agree with you more - most votes were cast based on misinformation and half truths, and that is an irresponsible decision made by those in power - my anger is far more directed at those who chose to hold a referendum without giving the British people adequate information to make that choice than anything else. I am an intelligent person, I know how to research things and look for information backed by multiple sources, and yet still I found it incredibly difficult to find that kind of information leading up to the referendum. So it is no surprise that those who may not be as confident using resources like the internet to find multiple sources of information struggled to find it too.

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  5. I was encouragingly drawn to this blog by your incisive headline. What followed makes for interesting, if sad reading. But I fear that your final note contradicts your headline and in my view, the public, who got us into this mess are clearly unqualified to get us out. I want to elect a Govt to lead, to employ experts to advise, to act and to pursue policies in the interest of the public. They are the experts paid to do an expert job; but if they happen to screw up, we vote them out in 5 years, not another 40 years !

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  6. Thanks Rosie. Great post. I really agree that it was an impossible decision to ask the public to make as no one could (and can) really say what the impact of leaving would be. I see myself as European so this has been a big blow for me.

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  7. It's also sad how much xenophobia and the fear of immigration was a factor in the leave votes. I'm from the USA, and this scares me because we have the looming threat of that Cheeto-faced egomaniac who's playing in the same anti-immigrant rhetoric.

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  8. You wouldn't visit the doctor to find out why you're feeling unwell and take the collective opinion of the other patients in the waiting room over the qualified doctor you're about to see would you? I think the resources we were given to be able to vote fairly was disgraceful. Both sides should have had an entire website set up devoted to this referendum with videos, articles, examples of real situations that might occur, explained in simple English, geared up as if it were an e-learning site to give everybody the facts. Instead all I found were a few crappy debates/slanging matches on TV and websites giving three main reasons for voting either in or out, with no real explanations. Perhaps we should have had a vote instead to elect a group of appropriately qualified people to sit on a panel, and let them decide in or out based on real understanding and knowledge of the issues.

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  9. Well written, Rosie. I have to agree with all you have said. I regard myself as reasonably intelligent but have to say, that although I knew which way I wanted the vote to go (I was on the loosing side), I found it hard to find a crate believable information. My young daughter, who has only been back in the UK for two months, is looking for a way back in the near future!

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  10. Hi Rosie, the build up to the referendum was one big game for politicians and as you said many of the people had no real idea of the outcome of what leaving the EU would mean.

    Having not lived in the UK for over twenty years I was unable to vote, but depending on agreements made, my life and the lives of many others, who no longer live in the UK may be changed dramatically. We shall see.

    I am sure that the people of the UK will be hung out to dry, as a warning to other countries who are looking to leave the EU, and if they don't move forward and embrace the changes to come, they will be in for a very rocky ride.

    One thing we can be sure of is that there are uncertain times ahead.

    xx

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  11. I agree. I spent the weeks running up to the vote, dissecting the half truths that the children came home with. Not supplied by teachers, but from radio, TV, friends and friend's parents. I was pleased that they were interested and felt involved. It was a good exercise in showing them how to sift the truth from the other stuff, but at the same time, it showed how confused people were by what they were being told. Not really the right starting point to be when you're about to vote on something so massive.

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  12. Oh what a mess it all is - it's true that if this had been the script in a box set, no one would believe it. I think you're right it shouldn't have been a public vote either but we are where we are, however grim that might seem. Thanks for linking to #PoCoLo

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  13. I agree totally. The UK Government and media have (before the referendum campaign) never informed the general public about the benefits of EU membership and the referendum campaign itself was appalling.

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