As some of you may have heard, there’s been a few changes in this country this week. I’ll address them as I see them here, but first there is something very important that I have to get off my chest.
Brexit, much like Grexit (used to describe the possible Greek exit from the European Union which was voted on a while ago), is not a word. Seriously, look it up in a dictionary. Not there. In fact, there are only three occasions when people use either word.
- People asking what the hell that even means.
- Journalists trying to sound hip and funky while talking about a complex situation that is so complicated they’re afraid people won’t watch/read unless they’ve a simple tag to add to it.
- People complaining that Brexit isn’t a word.
With that sorted out, let’s have a look at how the UK reacted to the idea of leaving Europe. How did they take all the very different changes, some negative and some positive, that would come with such a monumental decision? How were all those complicated matters communicated to the people who have no idea of all the ins and outs of political movement?
Meet Nigel Farage, the most outspoken supporter of the leave movement. He’s also the leader of UKIP, a party whose main policy seems to be “Less brown people in Britain”. Again, far more polite than their supporters would put it as they shave their heads and march through the country.
As you could expect from someone like this, all those complex changes, all the problems that could arise from leaving, all the positive things that would come in their wake, all the time that people would have to wait and possibly suffer before any positives came; all of that was swept under the rug for the story he wanted to tell. Everything was brought down to a few horror stories about staying, alongside a few wonderful promises about leaving.
Most notably, the campaign for leaving had buses going around the UK with slogans promising that the £350 million pounds per week that the UK sent to the EU would be brought back into the country and fed directly to funding the National Health Service (free healthcare for all). The campaign was blasted by the UK Statistics Authority for that claim, as the figure fails to take into account any rebates we get from the EU or any special payments that are made for the good of all countries (agricultural development being one stand out).
On the 16th of June, a little over a week before the vote, a poll by Ipsos Mori found that over half of Britain believed that claim as it was given to them. This was a single issue that, for many people, affected which way they were going to vote. And it was a sham. Mere hours after the votes were tallied and it was announced that we were going to be leaving the EU, Farage admitted on television that this money was not going to be funnelled into the NHS at all. It was a mistake by the campaign, he said, and specifically not one of his promises.
Now, as you’ve probably guessed from the way I’m talking about the Leave side of things, I voted to stay in the EU. I listened to all the arguments until my head was aching, then turned them off and looked at the research I could get my hands on. I pushed aside all the articles talking about people taking pens to the ballot boxes rather than using the pencils provided (they thought that their votes would be changed by corrupt officials; seriously, if there was vote changing happening then entire ballot boxes would be swapped out, rather than individual votes being erased one by one) and trying to blatantly tell horror stories about the opposing side and I tried to find out what I could beyond all the propaganda.
What I uncovered was a situation that I was not capable of understanding fully, and I’m a pretty smart guy. There were so many ins and outs, so much money flowing in both directions, so many positives and negatives to both sides of the argument that I could see why people would want it broken down to something simple. And yet I persevered because this is the future of the country I live in that we’re talking about, and I eventually came down on the Remain vote side because that seemed like it would end up more beneficial to people in my particular situation. And that is what a vote is meant to be about.
But both sides, my own included in this, ran their propaganda campaigns, telling their horror stories of staying/leaving, and giving single headline sized examples of why they were right in every way and the others were wrong in every way. And eventually the British public were buried underneath it all, until only the headlines shone through.
I’ve spoken about campaign promises and money and all the things we were flooded with, and I’d say that those affected the vote for a lot of people who were lost and simply didn’t know which way to vote. I’d also say that a lot of people stuck to their kneejerk reactions, some of them voting the way to leave/stay simply because they never got to when we joined. But there was one issue that kept raising its head throughout this process, and it was an ugly issue that turned a mirror on an equally ugly but growing underbelly in this country. I’ll say it here, because it certainly has a place in a post about oversimplification of issues: immigration was a big factor in this vote. The Leave campaign was made up of groups such as UKIP, Britain First, BNP (a militant group who have viciously attacked people over the colour of their skin or even sexual orientation and who lead their “soldiers” to believe they’re doing the Queen’s bidding to save the country, through the use of falsified documents – a story I’ve heard from two very separate people who have left the organisation after waking up) and they vilified immigrants throughout. A lot of people wanted to leave the EU simply because they felt that there were too many brown people coming to this country. So much for a United Kingdom, eh?
I’ve had a headache since I found out how the vote went. It kind of feels like a hangover; you know the dull ache that spreads and falls back like the tides. I look forwards into this future I voted against and there is nothing there. Nothing to fear, but also nothing to look forward to. For all my research I still have no idea of how this will affect us, and I do mean Kim and I personally here. It might not affect us at all. Everything may go on as it would have done, or at least with so little disruption that we won’t think anything has changed from how things would have been otherwise. As I’m not one of these who brought this all down to a single magical issue that would solve the country’s problems, that’s the best I can hope for.
And I do still have hope. For all the possible changes that are ahead of us, be they good or bad, hope remains. Even unable to see nothing ahead but darkness I have faith in myself and my loved ones, enough to know that we will be fine, one way or another. I think that’s the only thing I really can say for sure right now.
Whatever happens, we will endure.