After the referendum, what next (from 24 June 2016, the day after)
Note: this was written in anger, sorrow and exhaustion the morning after the referendum, on Facebook. I’d run the TUC’s Remain campaign, prepped my boss to debate for Remain at Wembley, helped and supported friends at BSIE and Labour In. It addresses the left — Labour, trade unionists and progressives.
I got angry. Writing this helped. Feel free to disagree.
Five things for Remain voters not to say today — and one thing for them to do
I get it. You’re angry and miserable. You want to lash out. You want to bask in the warm glow of approval from others who are also angry and miserable and want to lash out.
But here are 5 things not to say today, if you’re trying to live your values, and you’re of the Left.
Leave voters are racists*
No, they’re not. Some Leave voters may be racists. Most aren’t. It’s a pretty serious accusation, to call someone a racist. It pretty much guarantees they won’t be able to hear anything else you say to them. And do you reckon our country recovers from leaving the EU faster if we ramp up the anger even further?
* of course, none of this applies if the Leave voter in question is an actual racist. Met a chap who borrows slogans from fascists and slaps them over posters of refugees? Racist.
Leave voters are stupid
No, they’re not. Maybe they considered things important that you didn’t. On the left we don’t think that just because people didn’t get a first from a Russell Group uni they’re stupid. If you don’t consider yourself on the left, stop reading and piss off back to your elitist little bubble. And we’re democrats: everyone gets one vote each, no matter their personal attributes, and no matter how they made their decision.
Leave voters were misled
Pat the leave voters on the head, why don’t you? In case you’ve forgotten in the last 30 seconds, on the left we’re democrats. People get to make their decision on whatever information they want to use — the opinion of a celeb they trust, what their dad thinks, what the PM says or even extensive dissection of the nuances of every policy statement from Vote Leave.
I’m going to live in [another EU country]
You do that. Walk away from Britain and its people and its struggle for social justice. Confirm what the Leavers said — that those of us who voted Remain don’t care about Britain and aren’t patriots. Personally, my politics is rooted in where I’m from. Emigrate because of a political setback at a time when my country needs all the bloody help it can get? Never.
Leave voters deserve what’s coming to them — they voted for it
You vindictive little shit. Grow a heart. We’re the left. We believe people deserve dignity, equality and a life free from poverty no matter what. Channel that anger into fighting the coming recession and its inevitable assault on people’s livelihoods. And wash your mouth out while you’re at it.
So here’s the thing to do today: listen. Stop sharing sneering status updates and go talk to someone who voted to leave. Don’t plan in your head how you’ll rebut their arguments while they’re talking: listen. Think about what you’ve got in common. Think about how your politics has to change for them to feel part of it. Think about how our parties and institutions have to change so that progressives never again have to do the sneering facebook updates about the stupid voters, and instead can do the sweet sweet dance of victory. Think about what it will feel like when we win. Think of that day when instead of shouting from the sidelines, we get to run the show and build a United Kingdom of social justice. It starts when we listen.