I may have been shirking a responsibility by avoiding writing blogs about the woeful state of our politics here in the United Kingdom. Maybe I’m a warrior wannabe who just got tired of being on the losing side. Maybe I have been suffering from political depression. Or was it cowardice?
A fellow-writer friend wrote in the social media earlier this year that she worried that if she made controversial statements about what she believed, that at least one side of the unforgiving and, let’s be honest, the often-bigoted armies in our now divided society, would vilify her, reject her and, consequently, risk undermining her burgeoning writing career. Really, I thought, there is only one answer to that dilemma. Just say what you believe and be damned.
Being damned is a reality these days of hate mail, poisonous Twitter posts and vicious Facebook comments from angry people from the other side of the growing divide: left or right, liberal or conservative, fluid or static, young or old. What seems to unite these groups is their anger and, maybe, their intolerance for the other side. I’m reminded of the dark days of Inquisition and Totalitarianism. What I see, increasingly, is hatred and sneering and not a little ignorance.
Anyway, back to my political depression.
I’m an optimist at heart. I like human beings, honestly. I know puppies, kittens and baby elephants are often cuter than people, but, dammit, I like people. I wish them well, mostly. I just wish they would loosen up. I used to like politics too – but, God, these days it’s all become so painful. I had a look search before I could find a photograph of Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn sharing a joke together.
Gone are the days when people could sit in nice middle-class restaurants discussing the pros and cons of the mixed economy, taxation and prison reform and only get angry after the third glass of Burgundy. When they were young, they lay in the dark in boarding school dormitories debating capital punishment and waking in the middle of the night after nightmares about hangmen. For nice middle-class people in those days, politics was fairly interesting, but its dirty waters didn’t often wash over your beautifully polished shoes.
OK, some people got angry about famine, war, genocide, murder and inhumanity between fellow (wo)men. Real things, serious things. They were roused to the cause of minority groups and even oppressed majorities, but, then as now, we too often ignored the feelings of those who held different views from ours. If you voted Conservative, we didn’t hate you, we just thought you were wrong. If you thought we were naïve optimists who didn’t understand the real world, we just smiled at what seemed like your old-fashioned values.
Politics then was often guilty of smugness rather than hatred. In those days most of our politicians were also elitist – on the left and the right and in the middle. The rest of us had to go along with either one of them or the other.
Now we are all angry. The result, yes, I know, but I can’t avoid it, the result was the Brexit Referendum of 2016 and the chaos that has followed in a nation almost equally divided over Europe and, most shocking of all, incompetently led by its politicians.
I voted Remain – no secret there. I would do so tomorrow as well, if I could. I’m a passionate believer even though I know that the European Union is in dire need of reform.
I know that I’m seen as a re-moaner, a dreamer, just another naïve optimist, but it doesn’t make me a bad guy. I know that many of you disagree and a large number of you feel betrayed, over-looked by the political elite, and threatened by forces that I don’t see as threats, but I don’t hate you either, we are all the good guys, let’s try to accept that.
I don’t want a second BREXIT Referendum.
I want a referendum on whether our government, or any government, can deliver a BREXIT which does not destroy the United Kingdom. A general election would’ve done it if the main political parties had given us a viable set of alternatives – but they haven’t.
What is everyone so worried about? Democracy? If we can stop being angry with each other; if we can learn to respect the other side’s opinions, now that we know the complexities of the BREXIT negotiations, and now that we can see that Parliament itself is in chaos over all the possible outcomes, why are we so frightened of putting it to the popular vote?
Come on everyone – let’s vote. Then, as they say, let’s chill.