WARNING: This is an opinion piece about the result of the EU Referendum. I repeat: an OPINION piece. If you voted ‘Leave’ at the polls this week, I recommend you stop reading now. You’ll save yourself a rise in blood pressure.
I wish the ‘Leave’ posts on my social media feeds had come with a similar warning throughout this referendum. I am guilty of taking the clickbait, and calling out posts where I thought the information being shared was misleading or unnecessary. This didn’t make me feel good, but I stand by my words. I wouldn’t have published them on the web if I didn’t have faith in them.
I saw friends and family members determined to vote ‘Leave’, cite both rational and irrational reasons for doing so. I saw similar behaviour from those voting ‘Remain’. The ‘Leave’ campaign had Brexit The Movie – a chronically one sided ‘documentary’ designed to incite mistrust towards the EU, whilst the ‘In Crowd’ who supported the ‘Remain’ campaign used cute puppies to convince people to stay, which was patronising and weak.
When your personal aspirations and beliefs are affected by a political outcome; it’s hard to avoid being an angry, judgemental fuckwit. That’s why my newsfeed is full of riled up voices on both sides – we’re all guilty of losing our temper with someone in the last few weeks. I believe so-and-so is wrong, they believe so-and-so is right.
Perhaps that’s the issue; it’s all belief when it should be statistics and facts. But no-one has faith in the numbers because both sides have lied, though I would argue the ‘Leave’ campaign led the way here. Their promise to invest the millions of pounds we send to the EU each week back in to the NHS was a blatant lie (something which Nigel Farage casually revealed on breakfast television, shortly after the result had been announced).
In 2014, I attended a debate which acknowledged the importance of the then upcoming EU Referendum. Along with Belle Jar founders Louisa & Juliette, I was invited to the NAWO (National Alliance of Women’s Organisations) debate about ‘Young Women, Media Representation and Europe’. I listened to Paula Buonadonna (journalist, broadcaster, and Media Director at British Influence) talk about how important it was for young women to vote to remain in the EU if they wanted to see the changes they’d discussed put in to policies. I felt intensely hopeful when I left this debate, but two years later things feel quite different.
I was lucky enough to be invited to attend another EU debate this year, which was co-hosted by The Telegraph and The Huffington Post, and broadcast live by Youtube. I listened to Boris Johnson and Priti Patel debate their reasons for leaving the EU, and Liz Kendall and Alex Salmond debate why we should remain. Liz Kendall directly answered the majority of her questions, whereas Boris Johnson spent a lot of time dithering – there is no other word which accurately describes it – whilst trying to outwit Alex Salmond. Salmond also indulged in bids to outwit Johnson, but generally, Boris led the way in avoiding questions. I left the debate feeling confused by the statistics, but certain I would be voting ‘Remain’.
As we all know, my vote was not the winning vote.
Shortly after the result was announced, I saw a plethora of social media statuses which I had no patience for. The result had upset and angered a lot of my friends, and some thought this was an appropriate time to police people’s reactions, and tell them they shouldn’t complain. A few even suggested people didn’t understand or favour democracy because the vote “didn’t go their way”.
I didn’t post anything which suggested I felt this way, but what made my blood boil was that before this, many of us were chanting “unless you vote, you don’t have a right to complain!”. Fast forward a few weeks; we’ve exercised our right to vote, the results are announced, we’re complaining, and suddenly that’s not okay? COME ON GUYS. Not only is it our right to moan if we’ve voted, we’re also British; so by nature we bloody love a bloody good moan! ‘kin ‘ell. Let a girl vent once in a while, eh?
To all those who’ve still got the arse ache; I salute you. Keep on moaning (unless you’re being offensive or a bully, then you should reel it in).
The “democracy is democracy, duh!” people telling others “not to over-react” were also guilty of simultaneously posting statuses joking about the result of the EU Referendum, which is the equivalent of waving a red flag in front of a bull on social media. Well done! You’ve successfully added further hypocrisy to this shit-show of a referendum.
It’s easy to dismiss all of this, however, when we remember that MP Jo Cox was brutally murdered in her constituency days before the polling stations opened. Like many people, I didn’t know who Jo Cox was until her death was reported on national news. Britain First supporter Thomas Mair shot and stabbed her, multiple times, in broad daylight. He killed her because he was a right-wing extremist who didn’t agree with Jo’s liberal politics of growth and acceptance. I haven’t got the words to explain how cripplingly unfair it is that Jo’s killer was not treated with the same severity as any other extremist murderer, by the national press. We can moan and joke all we like, but a woman was killed for her political beliefs during this referendum. That’s more truthful and shocking than any statistic.
Nigel Farage told the papers he won the vote “without a shot being fired”, which is at best a stupid remark, and at worst; a callous disregard for the feelings of Jo Cox’s family. Farage, like most MPs, knows the power and influence of language. He should know better, but alas; this is the man who frightened a nation by using a campaign poster which resembles Nazi propaganda. I’d laugh, but it’s beyond a joke now.
But actually, I can laugh – because I am a privileged individual (and because I read Peep Show’s take on the Referendum). I’m not working class, but I’m not middle class. I have a full-time income, and I still live at home with my parents (#missindependent). Over the next few days, months, and years I imagine I will weather the potential changes that Brexit brings more comfortably than others who will be directly affected by the policy changes. I’ve always believed compassion works well when it comes to voting; and I voted ‘Remain’ because in my view, it was the compassionate thing to do. Laugh, undermine, attack that view all you like; we’ve all been wrong in some way during this debate. I don’t regret my decision.
Like everyone, I’m tired of all the hate and all the rage and all I want to do is sit down and have a cup of tea, and wait for all this to end. The problem is, it’s only just begun; so it’s going to be a while before anyone feels like sitting down with each other and talking calmly, instead of scalding each other with their opinions (and possibly their very hot cup of tea).