I voted Remain. Leave won. I backed the losing side in a two horse race (yes I know that is a mixed metaphor). I am angry about the result. I feel wretched to be pulled out of something I so passionately support, but, as I am frequently told, “democracy has spoken”.
The people have spoken certainly, and I cannot deny I backed the losing side, but we have had Leave voters being interviewed on TV actually expressing their own shock and disappointment that, after they voted to Leave, it means we are actually leaving. Protest votes do not work with a straight yes or no question.
Out of approximately 46.5 million registered voters, only 17,410,742 voted Leave. That may be 51.9% of those who actually voted, but it is only about 37% of the electorate. The difference between Leave and Remain was around 1.27 million, but ten times this number, almost 13 million registered voters, did not vote at all. Democracy has spoken, but quite a lot of it didn’t bother to speak up.
Putting that aside, however, and even ignoring the fact that a referendum is not legally binding and only advisory, my anger is not directed at the protest voters, at the racists, at those who fell for the lies, at the apathetic, at the uninformed, at the misled or even at those who, after research, felt it genuinely was the right thing to vote for. They all had the same right to vote I did. They won. I lost. That is democracy in action.
No, I am angry at the vote, but not at the voters. My anger now is directed in only one direction.
This referendum never had to happen. There was no constitutional requirement for it. The only party actively seeking exit from the EU was UKIP, who were not in coalition, only managed to elect one MP and never even got their own leader into Parliament. They were an electoral irritation. Alongside them we had the likes of the BNP, Britain First etc spouting stuff all over social media. They were never a serious threat to the main parties, just loud, buzzy flies on the wall.
UKIP had managed to attract a few voters away from mainstream parties, however, mainly Tories, and Cameron’s response to that was to take a massive political gamble. He promised in the run up to the last election an in-out referendum on Europe, to try to hang on to swaying Tories who might have been considering switching and maybe get back a few who had already defected. Having got elected, he had saved his career, but had to then see it through.
This was the point where the gamble backfired. With UKIP having made no significant dent in the elections, he assumed there would be no wide support or even interest in the referendum. He was catastrophically wrong.
Our democracy is such that we elect a party to form a Government. Not everyone votes for that party, but the others they voted for get representation as opposition parties. We then delegate responsibility to them for the big decisions on how our country is run. If we think they make bad decisions, no big deal, we just vote them back out a few years later and swap them for another lot.
That is the way it should have been done. Our electoral system did not vote in UKIP. The First Past the Post system is far from perfect (it let Cameron back in for starters, despite two thirds of the country not wanting him), but even with Proportional Representation (itself not perfect) UKIP was never in any threat of forming a majority government and therefore driving Brexit beyond hypotheses. None of the other mainstream parties was chasing that, so it was never an issue.
What Cameron did was to take the responsibility away from those who are supposed to manage that type of decision, who were elected to make that type of decision, who are paid to make that type of decision, and hand it over to the general public. His gamble was for his career. He is not the only one who lost that bet.
This campaign was not fought by parties. This campaign bypassed our established democratic system. This campaign has been divisive and nasty and largely based on lies (from both sides). This campaign was largely fought on social media. This campaign never had to happen.
An extremely close vote (51.9%-48.1%) has now undone several decades and it was not even necessary or called for. Never since the 1700s has our Kingdom been so Disunited.
I am not disputing the result. I am not denying I backed the losing side. I am saying it never had to happen if it hadn’t been for Cameron trying to save his own ass and failing, so well done, you pork bothering spineless cockwomble.