Until now I have resisted the temptation to add to the endless verbiage published in the media on the subject of the EU Referendum. But Mr Whiston’s letter (July 28) pushed me over the edge.
Mr Whiston, backing up Councillor Edwards in the previous edition, essentially admonishes those who supported remaining in the EU to like it or lump it (while attempting to score a cheap party political point against the Libdems). This exemplifies the divisive, confrontational, playground level of debate to which our political system has descended. Comments like this from Leave supporters attempt to close off discussion at a time when almost everything substantial about Brexit remains to be decided. The circular and facile “Brexit means Brexit” takes us nowhere.
If the EU Referendum ballot paper had included a “Don’t Know” box I would have ticked it. Nothing said by either side of the campaign helped me to make an informed decision. Both sides used hyperbole, the fear factor and numbers that were simply made up. When challenged about the slogans painted on the side of the Leave bus, Iain Duncan Smith grinned and said they weren’t promises, but ‘proposals’. Ex-Chancellor Osborne’s forecasts, like most of those during his time in office, seem to have been written on the back of a fag packet.
I have spoken to a many people who believe very strongly that the referendum process was misconceived, poorly run and a victim of our destructive, confrontational, spin laden system.
Which means there is no doubt that the decision which emerged from the referendum was a bad decision. I don’t say that because I know what it’s outcome will be, but precisely because I don’t. And, much worse, no one in government does either!
The only thing that is certain is that we will not know the full impact of Brexit for many years. I voted for remain because I didn’t want to abstain and, on balance, it seemed to me that our much vaunted 6th place in international GDP league tables was not entirely unconnected with the fact that we have been a member of the European Union, albeit very much on our own terms, for the last 43 years. My guess was that the economic consequences of leaving would neither be as ghastly as Remain claimed not would it lead to the Shangri La promised by Leave. But, as I say, I really didn’t know.
But time and time again, the message, from many in the Leave camp is that everyone who disagreed with them should shut up and get on with it. These are the same people who wanted to strengthen our democracy and who would certainly not have submitted meekly if the vote had gone the other way.
In a healthy democracy, there must always be opposition to those in power, holding the government to account and, where necessary, directly challenging it and offering alternatives. Given that we have a spectacularly weak parliamentary opposition in the UK at present, it seems it will be up to members of the public to do the opposing. None of us has any choice but to get on with our day-to-day lives but in the meantime no-one can, or should, attempt to silence those who are unhappy with the referendum ‘decision’ and want to ensure we reach the best possible agreement with the EU. If some of us continue to argue that we should never, in practice, leave completely, then that’s democracy for you.
Meanwhile I’m left in the position of feeling that this divisive and misconceived exercise has seriously damaged representative democracy in this country and that no current political party represents me.