This referendum thing has proper got everyone’s tizzies in a whizz, hasn’t it?
Now I’m the LAST person to bang on about politics. Mainly because I don’t really understand them and I have trust issues with immediate family, let alone total strangers with false smiles, natty suits and posh accents who insist they know what’s good for me. Yeah yeah. W’evs. *la-la-la*.
So because of this I’ve never voted. Oh, wait, I voted once – at school in 1979 – when we did a ‘mock election’ thing and I liked the girl who was ‘standing as Mrs Thatcher’ so I voted for her (she had lovely thick hair and dimples when she smiled although I’ve no idea what beliefs she stood for. See? Shouldn’t be allowed to vote, me). And I got quite excited when the ‘real Mrs Thatcher’ was elected because I thought it was all part of much the same thing. Hmm.
I didn’t vote for Cameron in whichever election that was. I enjoyed listening to all the debates and found some of the speakers formidable and great with their hand-eye-camera lens co-ordinations, but essentially I mistrusted every last one of them and I knew how rubbish I’d feel if I put a mark against one of them and my suspicions proved true. So I didn’t. And I know women fought for the right to vote, but – trust me – they didn’t mean me. If the ‘wrong’ person got in with a margin of one vote (it’s gotta be a possibility, surely?) then I’d be the one who’d find it impossible to live with myself for the rest of my life; I’m sensitive like that even though some would say I’m dead inside (me, mostly).
But this time round – this referendum on Leaving or Remaining in the EU – has given me so much food for thought that I couldn’t ignore it.
And just like the pendulum thing that Jon Snow used to co-host with on the outcome of general elections, I have been swung so far one way and then right back over to the other way that I’ve almost been sick with not knowing which way to go. I’ve watched all the broadcasts, all the debates, listened to friends and neighbours and Twitterers and Facebookers and read all the online stats and facts on whether the UK would be better off In or Out (or shaken all about) that it’s made my head spin with confusion.
I had a husband in one ear insisting that we’re duped into EU conforms that we know nothing about nor are allowed to have a say in; that our government has to bow down to laws that are passed by the EU commander (no idea who s/he is and what s/he stands for) and we give so many millions of pounds to the EU ‘bank’ and see very little returned for our own good. Which made me mad and sad: I hate feeling like I’m being taken for a ride.
Then I had a daughter in the other ear (good job I’ve the two ears) telling me that her future would be uncertain if we left the EU; that her chances of getting the same rights (workers’ pay, maternity leave, mortgage, job prospects, future education etc) without the backing of the EU was nigh on impossible. And that made me mad and sad too : I love my daughter and I don’t want her to have to face an uncertain future. Well, who would?
So I voted with my heart. Which is what everyone said I should. I stood there in the little wooden booth and even right at that moment I had no real idea what I was doing. So I made my cross (for my daughter, because I love her…. and why wouldn’t I want what she believes is best for her?) and left. And when we sat in the car, I said to my husband: we’ve just cancelled each other’s vote out, right?
I honestly believed that the Remainers would win the day. Almost a Given. Right from the last-minute scaremongering comments about there only being pencils in the booths, and to take your own BLACK MARKER because there was a very real fear of it being ‘rigged’ (in whose favour? ) and certainly when Nigel implied on the David Dimblebob show that he wasn’t holding out much hope. Shocked doesn’t go halfway describing how I felt when I got a message from my Girl telling me ‘we’ve left’ (I thought she meant she was driving over for a visit).
But the furore since the polls ended and the backlash of anger and hatred and nastiness that has positively swamped social media (even some messages on the Jeremy Vine show) shows me how titanically terrible the Brits are at not getting their own way.
Okay, so the general public have very real reasons for wanting to vote one way or the other – Good: I salute them, because like I’ve said, I don’t have that level of rock solid decisiveness. I can’t believe one person over another and I trust and mistrust everybody in equal measures. I also don’t truly understand how people have been saying ‘well this will happen’ or ‘that won’t happen anymore’ and ‘we’ll lose this/that’ – because where are they getting their future facts and assurances from? Only the same place I got mine – the media and the Google and the scaremongering of other human beings. And just because these people say these things with conviction and passion doesn’t mean that it’s any more true.
Okay, so the pound dropped (read slightly more reassuring news on the Guardian’s economic pages here). And dropped dramatically. Well of course it did. During any time of major uncertainty (and this is MAJOR, I appreciate that) people panic. The banks panic – banks are run by people aren’t they? This is the kind of immediate reaction that even buffoon Boris said would happen – if we leave, there will, of course, be some economic uncertainty for a while until things start to re-stabilise. Shock? No, not really. But the social media world picked it up and ran so fast with it, it’s knocked socks off some people and air out of others’. This is a kind of continued scaremongering whichever way you look at it. The ones who voted Leave are peeing their pants with panic because they caused this: OMIGOD! what’ve I done?! What can I do to reverse my foolhardy decision (which probably took you the best part of this year to come to, right?) I must claw back some semblance of sanity even if it’s just for the sake of my couple hundred followers on social media. I know! Let’s sign that Referendum Referendum Petition and then I can re-vote the ‘right’ way.
What is wrong with people? It’s less than 24 hours since polling stations closed. We are faced with an uncertain future – because the majority of voters believed – BELIEVED – that the decision they put their cross against was the RIGHT ONE. Yesterday, people – YESTERDAY. And just because the pound has dropped (‘slumped’, ‘plummeted,’ taken a nosedive’, ‘plunged us back to the dark ages’ and lots of other scaremongering synonyms), and Nigel Farage has reneged on a ‘promise to deliver the £350bn to the NHS’ – *er… ahem* I don’t remember him actually saying this anywhere – I recall his words being something along the lines of “this money would be better spent in the NHS etc” and David Cameron has resigned. PANIC! We’ve been duped! Again! And levelling these damning accusations at those who voted Leave yesterday are now making them panic. Which is inexcusable.
Even Barack Obama has had a re-think.
Some are still banging on about denying/destroying our children’s rights to freedom of movement inside Europe; of their sadness at no longer having the chances they’ve thus far enjoyed and which we fought to give them by joining the Common Market back in the 70’s. Okay so things might have more paperwork attached to them; prices might go up a bit and there will be more challenging times ahead until things settle down – but nothing’s impossible; if somebody wants something hard enough and is prepared to give it their best shot, then anything’s achievable. Surely. These are the reassurances I am now giving my daughter because she’s sh*t scared that her future is a bleak, unforgiving place and this is NOT what I want her to believe. I want her to believe that anything is possible; even if odds are against you and even if other people think differently to you and try to make you feel bad, it doesn’t matter; don’t listen because these are merely words and words are cheap (though it pains me to diss words). Have faith. And trust in the power of You.