Monday, June 27, 2016

The Aftermath (2): Take Responsibility

This one is for the Leavers, and since they're my crowd I'm taking some liberties with tone.  You've probably been on the receiving end of a lot of grief over the last few days.  It's been great to periodically check the old Facebook feed and discover that we're all moronic xenophobes, hasn't it?  Fantastic to have your friends call you a Nazi?  You've been enjoying that, right?  And of course it hasn't been at all frustrating to watch people try to wriggle out of the result, whether it's with re-runs or protests or just plain ignoring the referendum altogether.  It's been a tough few days.

Well, boo hoo.

Look, we got what we wanted.  Other people got something they really, really didn't want.  In many cases, the vitriol you're getting is literally grief.  In a few weeks time, it will be appropriate to ask for a moderation of tone, but for now I really think all those who disagreed with the result have a right to complain, bitterly.  I also think they have a right to seek any way they can to overturn the decision.  Given how destructive many of them think it will be, it would be negligent to do anything less.

Responsible leaders wouldn't have brought us to this place.  They would have taken responsibility themselves, and with it they would have shouldered the burden of the unpopularity, even hatred, which inevitably comes from making a call on an issue which so sharply divides the country.  We don't have responsible leaders, and so the responsibility falls to us.

Suck it up.  You won.

Take responsibility.

And that will mean more than just quietly taking the hits from your upset friends.  That upset isn't coming from nowhere.  There is good evidence that genuine racists have been emboldened by this referendum decision.  I don't think you voted for that.  I don't think you wanted that.  But right now, taking responsibility for your vote means demonstrating that there won't be tolerance for racist behaviour.  Think about how you can do that.  Consider attending one of the 'Stand Together' events (Oxford folk, here is the local one on FB) - the event descriptions say they want to welcome everyone, regardless of how they voted, so that we can all work out how to go forward positively together.  Why not take them at their word?

We shouted at each other for weeks, and in the end somebody had to win the shouting match.  Now it's time for talking and listening.


  1. AH!!! Preach! A thousand thank yous for this. I really appreciate this - particularly in saying so clearly in the last paragraph what I've been trying to communicate on Facebook.

    Also - for what it's worth, I don't think it's a good idea to repeat the referendum. I think there would be rioting in the streets. There are countries that make you vote until you've 'got the right answer' but unless there's a massive substantial change in what we're voting for, I think it undemocratic to repeat a referendum of this magnitude.

    1. You're right, we can't repeat it. I'm also concerned about what the reaction would be if we went for the EEA option - clearly it would be following the 'letter' of the referendum, but it would be directly against what lots of people thought they were voting for. I think we've just got to crack on now, to be honest, for better or worse.

      I do also hope that in the next few weeks we'll start to see some rallying - a bit of hope and confidence. I see a little bit of that in the Guardian already. We'll see.