In case you weren’t aware, Britain voted to leave the European Union last week. Or at least I think it did. It’s been a tense, turbulent and tumultuous past few days, but to my great surprise, I’ve kept relatively sane. Immense jubilation was quickly clouded by threats and abuse, something I’ve written about extensively at the following link
for those who haven’t had a chance to read. I also decided to become a member of the Conservative party in recent days; a decision I explain here
if anybody is interested.
But it was yesterday that frustration really began to sink in. I spent Lord knows how many hours attempting to fend off attacks from especially bitter and petulant ‘remain’ voters. If their pathetic ‘march for Europe’ stunt in London didn’t appear desperate enough, the justifications for it offered by those taking part certainly did. I should stress that many have been respectful, kind to me personally and have even taken the time to congratulate and thank me for my sincere contribution to the EU referendum campaign. I thank those who have accepted defeat, moved on and been thoughtful and kind to me over social media and in person. Many, though, have not. Let us examine some of the more absurd arguments fronted by more desperate ‘remain’ voters over the last couple of days.
“We only had a few months to prepare!”
A legitimate excuse that has now been tweeted to me directly at least three times. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the ‘leave’ side were aware of the referendum months before the ‘remain’ side were. Though this claim may technically be true, it applies to both sides of the referendum, so the playing field remains equal on this one. It is also worth noting that the ‘remain’ side had £500,000 spent on their cause in the form of a government website, £9.3 million spent on them through the delivering of state-sponsored leaflets advocating the pro-EU message and a two day extension on the voting registration date, a decision which tended to benefit young voters; voters more likely to vote to remain.
“Young people have been dragged out of the EU by old people!”
This claim is as dangerous as it is false. I’d have thought the British electorate better than to try to mould this referendum campaign into a generation war (again, not all, but a significant minority). But putting this aside, logic does not stand up to such an argument at all. Youth turnout is thought to be around 34%. An FT graph, which can be viewed here, reveals that turnout amongst 18-24 year-olds has remained consistently below the national average. It is telling that not even a referendum on EU membership could change that. It is also worth mentioning that many pensioners, particularly those with stark war memories, voted to remain a member of the European Union, and that many young campaigners such as myself opted for a ‘Leave’ vote. If young people feel betrayed, let this be a lesson to them for the future. If you want change, go and campaign and vote for it. If anybody reading can get beyond a small paywall, I’d recommend reading this piece in The Spectator from last week, written by Lara Prendergast.
“Only 36% of the entire population voted for an exit – that’s not democracy!”
I was informed by a follower on Twitter that people had actually written this on signs at yesterday’s London protest. At first, I didn’t believe it, but soon found pictures that confirmed the rumours to be true. It is astonishing to see the lengths that some human beings will go just to look foolish on television. It’s difficult to point this out without condescending readers, but not every human being in a country can vote at a given time. Age, legal and health restraints render this an electoral impossibility, and that is without considering the huge numbers of people who forget or choose not to vote. Presumably, then, every previous referendum and general election must be re-run and rejected for failing to meet a 100% electoral turnout. That’s quite a lot of voting to get through, Remainers.
“The margin was tiny, let’s have another referendum!”
Does anybody actually have the energy for another referendum? I know I don’t. I am extremely proud of all who campaigned honestly and sincerely, and not just on my side…on both sides. Those calling for a second referendum are a danger not just to democracy, but also to the rule of law and a free society. Yes, the margin was tiny, but has that mattered with any previous plebiscite or election? I think not. Everybody expected the result to be close; polls indicated a tight margin, campaigners on both sides admitted there would be a tight margin, and voters wouldn’t have been surprised either. But should the size of the margin devalue the validity of the result? Absolutely not. We wouldn’t suggest such a thing if it were a football score or a lottery win, so why are so many of us doing it now? It’s nothing more than politics for children.
“The referendum wasn’t legally binding!”
Of course the referendum wasn’t legally binding, but can you imagine ‘remain’ voters using this argument if they had won the referendum? I suspect, in that case, they’d be arguing against all of the things they have been claiming over the past few days. It matters not if this or any referendum isn’t legally binding. A referendum result is a clear indication of the will of the British people, and parliament should abide by the wishes of the electorate that seated them all. In many ways, referendums aren’t even constitutional, but they are (crucially) an extension of democracy. Some issues are just too big for a political party to handle all by themselves, and a consultation of the electorate, with a simple ‘Remain or Leave’ question seemed to me to be a rather more healthy way of deciding our nation’s fate.
“The British people have been tricked by a campaign based on lies and racism!”
As a proud employee of the Vote Leave campaign, I take particular offence to this claim. Firstly, let us call out this argument for what it actually is: a blatant smokescreen. It is a smokescreen designed to demonise those who voted leave as being in some way racially prejudiced in order to forward a campaign to have a re-run of the entire thing. I urge my friends, followers and readers to reject this entirely.
The Vote Leave campaign quite sensibly outlined the problems caused by mass immigration that some British people faced, rightly warned against the ramifications of Turkish accession to the European Union and were in no way affiliated with divisive rhetoric, posters and leaflets fromor UKIP. It is important to make a distinction between the separate campaigns if we are to have a rational discussion about the nature of our EU referendum debate.
Many voters may feel (rightly) angered over controversial posters depicting the burden of refugees on the EU, but I urge those who are to target their blame and disappointment at those responsible, and not ‘Leave’ campaigners more generally. A ‘Leave’ vote was a vote for democracy and for the right of the United Kingdom to govern itself as a global, independent nation. We are, as I told the BBC on Tuesday evening, democrats, not xenophobes.
The United Kingdom has spoken, and its decision to leave the European Union must be respected by our political leaders. Any attempts to reject the vote, overrule it in parliament or kick the issue into the long grass would suggest to me that we are not the democracy that we claim to be.
This post was originally published by the author 3 July 2016 https://norgroveblog.com/2016/07/03/responding-to-post-referendum-desperation-from-petulant-remain-voters/