Brexit and what’s next — a personal perspective
Matt Clifford
16230

Its right to encourage a better understanding between the two halves of the electorate but blaming ‘us’ is wrong on two levels. Firstly, democracy doesn’t just mean the ‘elite’ reaching out, it means all people at all levels actively engaging— i.e. standing for MP even if you truly believe you’re not being represented. The Westminster first-past-the-post system makes that more difficult but, on the second level, the country had a chance to choose an AV voting system back in 2011 that would likely better have represented those frustrated voters. Yet the turnout was far lower and it failed miserably. Thus the more responsive politics you call for was rejected by many of those who apparently used the EU referendum to voice their anger and disillusionment, mostly by their absence. Perhaps we should be ashamed only if we treated that referendum with dispassion ourselves.

Furthermore, you’re right its easy to blame voters for being easily influenced but not to do so would be to ignore the blatant populism that has characterised this whole debate. The myth that Turkey would soon be in the EU was peddled effectively alongside posters of lines of migrants. The ‘out’ vote was sold on a few easy-to-remember facts — ignorance and fear certainly did play as much of a role as despair. It’s important to state that as it reflects on the validity and use of referenda as an instrument in democracy.

For those that want to build a better world, this is a severe setback. The United Kingdom is a democracy which has much power to project its values positively even if that’s not always the case. The European Union with the UK at the heart of it helped foster a democratic transition for much of Eastern Europe. As Scotland prepares for independence, soon both the UK and the EU will be diminished players, both in size and their ability to project those values that can build a better world. We should be angry. Angry enough to protest this outcome as hard as we can. Angry enough to rally against the disgusting populism we have had to put up with over the last months.

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