I know that this post isn’t my usual fare but I feel that after the week that has passed I should write something, if only to record my own thoughts. Just in case you’re wondering what I’m referring to it is of course the recent referendum in the UK about it’s membership to the European Union.
On Thursday we went to the poles – in fact a huge number of us went to the poles, I can’t personally remember such a high turn out to vote for anything vaguely political in this country. And on Friday morning we discovered that by an incredibly narrow margin the people had spoken and the decision was to leave. In their own rights I think that these two things speak volumes – this was a choice that split the country pretty much evenly down the country and more importantly a choice that people felt passionately about. These two things ultimately meant that whatever the outcome there was going to be a large number of “losers”.
I voted to remain in the EU; that makes me one of the “losers”. Now, I have been accused of being too passionate on a number of occasions before and I work hard to keep that in check, to ensure that it doesn’t muddy my view of the world. Instead I use that passion to drive me forward to propel me to work harder, learn more, listen more, support more and generally be a better person. That said, on Friday morning I was bitterly disappointed by the result and my passion ran over. In fact it ran briefly into Twitter.
Now Twitter is clearly a public forum and I made a couple of statements of my disappointment. I thought, almost immediately about taking them down however, I said it and it’s out there so I’ll leave it – it is a part of who I am. However these are expressions of disappointment. Yes, they’re angry. Yes, they’re insulting. But in reality do I really believe what I wrote? No, not at all. But I said it and I’m not going to shirk the fact that I did. I will live with the consequences of my actions. Which brings me nicely to my next point.
I cannot express deeply enough my disappointment of the reactions of the electorate in the aftermath of this. Call me simplistic but this I thought this how democracy worked – we vote, some people get what they want, others don’t. The fact that people want a second chance because they didn’t get what they wanted sickens me. I realise that because things were so close it seems unfair but this is the process people. This is what defines the country that we live in. We cannot, we must not go changing it just because things didn’t go our way. Stop and think for a moment; “what if you were on the other side?”.
So what now? There has been a lot of talk during the lead up to this about what it means to be British. For me it boils down to two things; our willingness to accept other people with other points of view and our dogged determination to work through any situation. Right now I believe we need both of these qualities in spades. You voted to leave, I voted to stay, others may not have voted at all – those divides are no longer relevant. The decision has been made, we need to accept each other, we all still live in this country together and we will all have to bear the consequences together as one. If we don’t, if we choose to hold grudges, then we will do more damage to this country than is imaginable… let’s not do that.
We, the people, have spoken. Now we, the people, must make it work. Otherwise we’re all “losers”.