I have been unsure about whether to write this blog for the last week. It’s tempting to ignore, or at least avoid, politics on my blog but it’s been such a big week and the ripples from the Brexit vote are so huge for me that I don’t feel that I can.
I guess I should start this by saying that I voted to Remain. This was my original gut reaction and many people who I respect made good arguments for Leave but my gut ultimately won. It was a decision that, I know I wasn’t alone in feeling, I had to make in a vacuum of actual information and facts. There was a lot of conjecture, personalities and a lot of political spin but little real information upon which to base your decision.
So why was I so shocked and hurt by the actual result of the referendum when it emerged on Friday morning? I know many of my friends were too. I guess that we are all nice, well-meaning, middle-class people who read the Guardian website. That our country would vote to leave behind the EU under the banner of such nasty political lies was a real slap in the face. The subsequent rise in Racist abuse has just gone to exacerbate that and has left some people who I care about understandably scared.
Perhaps we needed the slap – a wake-up call – to fact that our political apathy and sense that taking part in the dialogue was futile. We need to engage, though it’s really hard to find a party that you feel you can trust, a voice that is offering honesty and truth above the mud-slinging, clichés and self-serving melee of Westminster. It’s hard to know what to do, really, other than indignantly re-Tweet things and sign online petitions.
I had this naive sense of a country that was a bit muddled, where lots of people were really suffering at the hands of the 1%, but where we were all pretty decent and that ultimately we were all moving in a good direction. There was a safeness in this view of the world. But the truth is that many people are suffering so much that their hurt has been turned into hatred and this country may be ripped apart because of it. In an uncertain future, it’s easy to see that people might gravitate towards firebrand figures with solutions that blame others and offer quick fixes. Friday morning proved that those people are generally lying – there are no quick, easy solutions that aren’t morally questionable. History teaches us that, if we choose to listen.
I still think that most people are decent and trying their best but I worry that the 1% are using their money and influence to wilfully misguide people who are desperate for something to change in their lives and don’t have the time or resources to realise that it’s actually that 1% who are destroying their lives. We need to stop being so easily distracted by the shape of a Kardashian’s bottom or who made the coat that the Duchess of Cambridge is wearing and start to think about what we want the world to be like in 5 or 10 years time. We then need to act on those thoughts – with how we spend our money, how we vote, who we choose to listen to and generally how we act as people.
Money is important but it isn’t everything and we live in a world where the wealthy 1% think that it is and are making the rest of us dance helplessly to their tune. Historical alternatives to this were faith and for many people that is still the core of their being but there are too many of us without religion now. We need there to be some hope for humanity that isn’t about money (greed) or faith. Politics cannot be the only answer but like it or not it’s one of the only alternatives in that it unites us because it impacts on us all – it literally governs our lives.
I don’t know what the solution is but I suspect that the current organisations, who seem to predominately feature a lot of white men who grew up in a world of money and privilege, cannot really represent us or find the solutions that we all need. They are currently literally printing money and recycling empty ‘promises’. They will be choosing our new leader from amongst their respective parties and we will have no say in this. We deserve to have an election to make a new choice BUT it needs to be fair – there need to be safeguards in place that ensure that the campaigns include only factually correct, verified information. Lies should be held to account. This needs to apply to the media too; if your paper is owned by a magnate who is using it to bolster his political influence then you need to be clear about that. People cannot make decisions in a vacuum – we need the chance to vote based on comparable, accountable information. Otherwise it’s not a democracy; it’s a battle between egos for influence and power. Which is probably why the Brexit vote has hit us 47% almost majority as being so unfair.