|Totally unrelated photo from an Around The World event at DD's school|
I admit that most of my facebook friends (and my real friends, and indeed myself) are educated, elitist, snobs. We make enormous efforts not to be racist, sexist, ageist or discriminate against the disabled but when it comes to the ordinary working class citizen we are, apparently, not shy to call them ignorant (stupid even) and not deserving of a vote on important matters such as this that they can't possible have understood.
Never mind that we need people to do all the manual work that we hope our children won't be doing to earn a living. Never mind that the 52% are still people and still British citizens. Never mind that maybe, just maybe, you didn't bother to campaign in a way that relates to them at all (whereas Brexit did)?
Living in Israel I saw first hand how different sectors of the population can be voting in the same election on entirely different issues. And here the scathing aftermath and howls of depression were similar. We had the security-hardliner Netanyahu running against the social-justice reformer Herzog. Those in the centre of the country were caught up in the enormous social injustice issues that we desperately need to reform. Those in Jerusalem and near the borders (not everyone obviously) are not oblivious to social injustice or against social reform nor are they uncaring about the poor and the enormous income gaps, minimum wage, the ridiculous property prices, supermarket monopolies and other mafioso controlled industries that push prices here through the roof. But they felt they had to vote for security. You can't fight for social justice if you're dead. Same election, different concerns.
In the EU referendum the broadsheet newspapers published in-depth economic and political arguments for Remain. However more than half the country don't read those papers. Instead they were listening to the PM saying "relevant" things that they could understand like students will find it harder to go Euro-railing and property values will fall. Seriously? If I were someone working my guts off with no hope of ever buying property in this market and still holidaying in a caravan in Wales because that's all I could afford, that would speak to me. But not in the way the PM intended.
Where were the adverts on television explaining to those without university degrees why they and their children will be better off staying in Europe? I saw adverts like this for the Scottish referendum. One particularly aimed at housewives just went to cast doubt and catch the undecided, with no real reasons to stay. But at least it spoke to the housewives and mothers rather than just ignoring them. In this referendum they didn't even speak to the ordinary person in the street, let alone explain anything relevant to them.
Papers like the Daily Mail, on the other hand, were actively campaigning for Brexit. Amongst all the hysteria about the millions of immigrants marching across Europe intent on reaching Britain where we have to provide all of them them with instant financial help, housing and health care, there was not one article addressing these fears in DM language and without just dismissing people's real fears (albeit fears encouraged by the media and the DM in particular) as ignorant and racist.
With all the publicity media available today, I did not see one infomercial, one advert, one open letter to the workers of Britian. Not one You Tube video that those who know how to do these things could have made viral, not one good reason to remain if you are a lorry driver or a school secretary in Carlisle.
Some of my fb friends (all with university degrees and mostly professionals living in London) exclaimed: Who are these people who voted Out? I don't know any of them! Well precisely. We all assume that the 52% were all voting against immigration and for a fascist state. Because they couldn't possible have any other concerns. Except for those over 70 of course, who are obviously expecting us to go back to the late 1950s when we never had it so good. They're stupid too. Or maybe not - who knows?
Has anyone even considered other reasons for leaving? An academic posted on fb that she looked deeply in to the workings of the EU and found them to be corrupt and self-serving, which made her very reluctantly not put her x in the remain box. Farmers and business owners caught up in EU bureaucracy and red tape might have had their own motives too.
But let's not ignore the elephant in the room. I agree that most Brexit voters are those worried about the immigration situation. Parents who have no school place guaranteed for their 5yo at a local school, schools where the level of education is tempered by language issues, families waiting for council assisted housing who see recent immigrants jump the queue. It is a racist issue but it is an issue and you can't blame people for putting their own family first.
These people just want a job, a place to live, a decent wage, and an education for their children. They're not interested in trade treaties or the international exchange rate because they don't have stocks, shares, or investments. They don't have international business contracts and they don't travel abroad that much. What they do have is the skill and will to mend your burst pipes, drive articulated lorries to deliver your commodities, look after your children and the elderly while you're at work, keep your schools and hospitals clean, mend your roads, schlep your furniture when you want to move house, make your garden grow and build your extension.
So while you all wail about how your children will not be able to work abroad easily. How we have lost our advantage as the English speaking gateway to Europe. How your property and investment values will fall. How immigration is a positive thing, as long as they are not sending their children to your schools for the first generation at least. How England is heading towards extreme right wing fascism and dangerous isolation. Remember that you will still need plumbers, lorry drivers, cleaners, nurses, carers, movers, builders and gardeners. And that's why the 52% aren't as stupid as you think. Same referendum different issues.
Note to selves: Next time you need to speak to the people, include all the people.
And now, pick yourselves up, heads down, stiff upper lip, best foot forward, pull together, keep calm and carry on. Business as usual on Monday and for the next two years at least. All those who shouted about not being quitters - now is the time to not be a quitter.