The blame game

It’s been a worrying week, culminating with a slender majority of the U.K. voting to leave the EU. Within a few hours the Leave campaign retracted three of their key pledges, the economy nosedived and the Prime Minister resigned. There doesn’t seem to be a clear path forward from here, but we need to club together to fix this and secure a good future for ourselves and the next generation.

No doubt you’ve been reading as much analysis as I have on who voted which way and why. With that analysis comes anger from those of us that voted remain, just as – I suspect – would have happened if the roles were reversed. We do it as part of the process of understanding what happened, and our nature then leads us to seek who to blame for things not going our way. The people that put a cross in the leave box are an easy target, and the political elite are keen to help you point the finger. But infighting is what got us here in the first place, and we’ve all been played by just a few at the top.

David Cameron is, without doubt, the person most responsible for this. He promised a referendum most of us didn’t really want. He then failed to get a concise, coherent case across to counter the emphatically presented lies and rhetoric from the leave campaign.

Johnson and Farage pushed a simple message, aimed at stirring the emotions that Murdoch and his minions have been conditioning people with for years. It doesn’t matter that the headlines about immigrants and hoovers aren’t true – the corrections are so tiny and so sarcastically worded they only serve to stir more negative feelings.

Cameron made a gross miscalculation calling the referendum, and has paid for it by losing. I believed all along that it was more about the personalities on each side rather than the policies, but the Lord Ashcroft study shows me to be wrong. This was about people believing the hate and vitriol put to them week in, week out, by the Daily Mail, The Sun and so on. Add to those people the ageing population, who believe the EU hasn’t lived up what they voted for in 1975, and suddenly it’s clear how great Cameron’s shortsightedness was. Facts have to be either irrefutable or immensely appealing for someone to even begin to consider changing their beliefs, and the remain campaign had neither.

Scaremongering about things that couldn’t be proved was never going to get people on their side – in fact the opposite was nearly true for me at points. I stuck with remain more because of my distrust of Johnson and Farage than because of my belief in Cameron. But this referendum is now his legacy; and I doubt the history books will be kind.

Nor should they be. Last year I wrote “When is it time to start a revolution?” because this government was tearing the country apart. That hasn’t changed: in fact it’s gotten worse. We need reform, and we need it fast.

Over the coming weeks things are going to change quickly. We’re already seeing the ramifications of Leave winning – but that’s not to say we’d all be millionaires by now if remain had won. In fact, in some crazy way, this might actually work out for the best. People are angry, and rightly so. We now need to channel that anger into action and bring about real change.

How?

It’s possibly not the first thing you’d think of when you’re angry, but I think we need to start being nicer to each other. Really simple stuff, like saying “Hello” or “Good Morning” to people that you walk past on the street. Not every single person, and nothing overblown — just an acknowledgement of the people you see on a day to day basis. Even just a smile at a stranger can make a big difference.

We need to find a common ground with each other. We will never always agree on everything with everyone; it’s not in our nature and life would be boring if it were. Try not to get dragged into battles you can’t win: you won’t change what someone believes, just the same as they won’t change your beliefs. But while we might not agree, we all have the same core needs: food, clothing, housing, health, education and transportation.

The press need to start being held more accountable; for too long some papers have gotten away with printing sensationalist headlines without any facts backing them up. When proved wrong there has been no real recourse, and no change to the way they operate. While it might be entertaining, the spewing of hate ultimately helps no one.

If the Bank of England does decide to inject money into the economy, it feels like it would be far better spent investing in new transport links, new housing, energy solutions and education than just pumping it into somewhere we won’t see it. Create jobs with that money, create opportunity and create stability.

Finally for now; we need to change our political system. I would prefer to see one based around policies instead of parties, and a vastly improved voting system. In this digital age it seems positively stubborn to rely on a pencil cross on a piece of paper put into a box. The technical risks can be overcome, as can the social issues of access for all. It just requires the desire.

I know the next few days, weeks, months and possibly years are going to be hard. I know that there are some nasty people out there rejoicing right now, enjoying watching the country burn. Maybe I’m being naive, but I don’t believe they’re the majority. The world is going to keep on spinning, and we are all in this together and we need to work together to make things better.

Who’s with me?