You might recall that yesterday, I wrote a post “The Day Politics Died”. This was of course a very long typo. I am happy to confirm Politics is alive and well. I stayed up all night to see Politics assert itself.
Quite properly, Politics does not belong to Politicians…and Journalists, Bloggers, Bankers and Trade Unions. Politics belongs to People.
The result of the Referendum delights me. I make no apology for expressing my delight. Nor indeed do I make any apology for previously saying that this was actually two Referendums and that the best result would be REMAIN in Norn Iron, Scotland and Wales and a LEAVE vote in England.
I am of course surprised. As I said yesterday, I expected REMAIN would win. I thought that Project Fear would win…not just the advice from Banks, former political heavyweights (Bliar, Brown, Darling etc), elected and unelected politicians from the European Union…but also the letters from bosses to employees warning them of the consequences of voting the “wrong way”. I have spoken to people yesterday and today who changed their vote because of this kinda “advice”.
Yesterday I thought that the Jo Cox murder would influence people to vote REMAIN. I still think that is the case. It was a major traumatic event. It is of course possible that nobody was actually influenced, by the murder, by sympathy for her husband and children and the politicised rallies to show support. But on balance, I think that REMAIN benefitted by a few percentage points.
I also thought that while Jeremy Corbyn was lukewarm about the EU, the mainstream Labour Party was not divided enough …and only a handful of MPs were prepared to campaign for exit.
A lot of Labour MPs detest Corbyn. They will try and unseat him. They probably will. He seems like a relic from the 1970s and lacks any kind of charisma. In the last Parliament Labour lost the goodwill of the people of Scotland and in this Parliament has lost the goodwill of their core support in the north of England.
There is a lot of criticism that older people betrayed young voters. It is crap.
I have been voting for 46 years and for at least 33 of those years, I have voted in the interests of my family…children and grandchildren. Dont try and tell me otherwise. It is the only way that parents and grandparents know.
This does not mean that I am overly interested in the needs of young eople in general. They have their own mammy and daddy to vote in their interests.
But it seems to me that the Government/ REMAIN camp bent over backwards to facilitate young people…even extending the deadline for online voter registration….in the belief young people would vote REMAIN.
The anger that (some) young people are expressing might be more justified if they had been registered to vote in 2015 but seemingly a lot couldnt be bothered to take a stand on Welfare Cuts, Disability, Nursery Care, Syria, Pensions, NHS….yet curiously when they accuse old folks of selfishness. But the evidence suggests young people are merely interested in one issue…themselves.
That of course is entirely normal …in ten or fifteen years they will lose the selfishness.
But who exactly are “young people”? Well…the articulate, the students, the graduates…thats how we tend to see them. But there are young people, barely visible, who have fewer opportuniities in an unequal society. They too are entitled to be on the voting register.
This Referendum has been played as a game. A means of venting against Johnny Foreigner in Brussels and in the A&E Department of your local hospital…just vote against Europe in the certain (?) knowledge that it would not matter.
Unethical politicians and unethical journalists ramped up the rhetoriic and the yuppies in the trading rooms in the City of London voted Tory and went along with the anti-migrant rhetoric, as the means justified the ends of a Tory government.
But the people who actually voted LEAVE…they were outside the Westminster village …so as soon as the result was known, TV news crews were sent north to Hartlepool, Sunderland and Middlesbrough to find these people from the Great Northern Powerhouse (created by George Osborne) who had dared to vote LEAVE.
This meant vox pops with tired and beaten people who carry Lidl shopping bags…seemingly thats how the London-based media view northerners.
This was a divisive Referendum. But the crux was that it pitted people with a lot to lose against people with little to lose….made worse by young energetic people in “IN” Tshirts trying to persuade people with little to lose how well off they were in the EU.
Who really thought that real people would be impressed by Bob Geldof, Richard Branson, David Beckham, Eddie Izzard, Michael O’Leary? Who really thought that real people would be impressed by teenagers telling them about “roaming charges” and “student exchange programmes”?
Who really thought real people would be impressed by Tony B Liar?
Who really thought that real people would not learn the lesson of the political elite ganging together (oops I mean cross-party political heavyweights) scaring the crap out of Scotland in their 2014 Referendum?
Why is Jon Snow of Channel 4 News surprised by the result?
YOU KNOW NOTHING JON SNOW. THE NORTH REMEMBERS.
The 2014 Referendum destroyed Labour in Scotland in 2015.
And the 2016 Referendum is a scary prospect for the future of Labour in north of England.
Of course northern constituencies are represented by such Labour luminaries as Ed Miliband, Yvette Cooper and Tristram Hunt….yea they have their London-centric fingers on the pulse of their constituents.
It is a simple enough case that people marginalised for years voted in a way that the priveleged did not like. There is little connexion between the old folks in Hartlepool and a hedge-fund manager in the City of London. Even less between a working mother in Sunderland and a student with a “IN” Tshirt in the Student Union bar.
But everybody gets a vote. And has a right to use it.
The “Overclass” was outvoted by the “Underclass” and that is not supposed to happen.
items such as European roaming charges on mobile phones, “Erasmus” and how your internship with a EU Department or MEP will affect your future career are not that high on other peoples agenda.
So young folks…dry your eyes…stop whinging.
More seriously than the feelings of people under 20, has been the split in the DisUnited Kingdom. The nationalist/geographical split will be the subject of a future Blog. But clearly in the aftermath of the result, interviews with Leavers do not always show them in a favourable light. This was not a fancy Referendum on the great issue of Sovreignty. There is a nasty underbelly to British (and other) nationalism. And certainly the narrative of multi-cultural Britain was exposed….
Did Racism swing it for LEAVE?
Well…no point in highlighting this AFTER the result. Better if we had seen more of this during the campaign. That might have influenced some LEAVERS to vote REMAIN.
The great mistake of this Referendum or any Referendum is to think that it was about the question actually posed on the ballot paper. It was about so much more.
(I will analyse the Norn Iron result in a separate Blog over weekend)