I know I’m not the only one who was expecting this outcome. I know I’m not the only one who was shocked and left bereft with a simple, feral sensation of rage and despair.
This blog was born from that same sense of unfathomable alienation from the majority of other voters during the last general election. The sense that change wasn’t possible because of the politics of fear and, in this case, hatred. I’d feel mollified if I felt that the majority had carefully and critically considered the case for Brexit before lighting the blue touchpaper. But straw polls of Facebook and peers suggest that the bulk of voters, on both sides, did not understand what was being asked of them and the implications of what they have done.
I am in a position where I cannot be a political campaigner and, regardless of thi,s the politics is ended for now. We have what feels like a wilderness for the next four years whilst we pull into this new isolationist standpoint which seems to have, in part at least, a grounding in xenophobia and racism for so many. For me this has been the most frightening outcome of both the elections – the rise of the extreme right in the absence of a true political discourse on how society can move forward to raise the vulnerable, to inspire the electorate and to start real, passionate debate on what Britain should mean.
And to think that we are now in a position that we have large swathes of people who are ignorant of politics – so much so that they abstain from democracy – or (worse still) tag along with the “character” politicians who shout lies the loudest (The Dead Ringers “Farage in the Pub” parody has now become scarily less funny).
The time has come for us to choose how we will respond. Shall we check out of Fool Britannia, apply for asylum and Raspberry beers in Belgium, leaving the whole steaming mess to resolve itself?
No. The time has come for the disenfranchised moderates, the soft and polite agents within our society to take a stand. A stand for what is good and right. We cannot vote our way out of this funk now. But what we can do is small acts – small acts to stop the rot now – small acts to make sure this folly does not happen again.
We will not withdraw to self serve. A semi-conscious majority have already elected to do that. Reach out of your position, reach out of your class. We can’t predict the economic weather, but its fairly sure to be bleak. There won’t be a lot of fat to go around, but share your resources, be within your communities. And don’t just self select to include “our kind” but be the community as a whole, without barriers and without judgement.
Bring education and make opportunity to those who it does not come to naturally. Bring learning where it is needed – not through indocitrination or learning by rote – but by inspiring debate and lighting the fire of critical thought.
Bring community cohesion to life – how about not segmenting ourselves off into our little middle class, picketed allotents – how about engaging with others to make community spaces grow? Grow communities together.
Bring kindness. Charity is our last gift we can give when the state will not meet its obligations to protect the vulnerable, time is what we can give to serve those who need the step up of real and intended support.
Bring creativity. Make beauty and art in the world, share it and light up our open spaces. If you can monetise it – great! – but make sure that you give back.
Just do something. Make it positive. Don’t give up.
If nothing else this referendum has shown the importance of the need for engagement – the time has come for the non-ruling classes in Britain to wake up to their potential. Every vote does matter.The exit from the EU is going to involve many small decisions within parliament on how it is best executed. The time has come to make our MPs work for us. Hold each decision to account. Do your democratic duty and scrutinise and challenge. Pester and engage until you cannot be ignored. Hold the values of democracy – that we all have a say and we all have a responsibility – tightly to your chest and make them count.
Lets stop the divisive rot that this pernicious and stinking referendum has generated. For better or worse this decision has been made.
The only answer to this is unity and effort. Make every contact count – wake up and wake up all those around you.