2. Why we voted as we did

7 10 2016

Brexit Blog 2: Why  we voted as we did

Why we voted as we did: an initial response

From the outset many voices have been raised in trying to explain the outcome. Bearing in mind, the referendum occurred on Thursday 23 June 2016 with the results coming out on the 24th, the following is a remarkably apparently accurate ‘instant’ assessment: “Although the vote has to be interpreted as an instruction to withdraw from the EU, it sounded in the early hours of Friday more like a howl of rage and frustration by one half of the country against the system of power, wealth and privilege perceived to be controlled by an elite residing, well, elsewhere.” (Rafael Behr – The Guardian – 24 June 2016)

I say this in the light of the Rowntree Foundation report that came out in August 2016 and which stated, “Put simply, older, white and more economically insecure people with low levels of educational attainment were consistently more likely to vote for Brexit than younger people, degree-holders, minorities and the more secure middle- and upper-classes.” (Rowntree Foundation Report: Aug 2016)

Both follow the idea that there was a divide in the nation that has been variously been labelled as London versus the rest, or north versus south, or rich versus poor, or old versus young.

Why we voted as we did: wonderings

Having said what we have said, I have my own personal wonderings, and that is all they are. Before the vote I was aware that in my family, my sons, and to a lesser measure my son-in-law, were all verging on definitely remain while I, the patriarch of this family was definitely for “let’s leave!” This seemed to conform to the patterns above but then as there were soundings being taken around the country on TV, I was surprised at the number of young people who were saying they wanted out – but it is of course possible that they fitted into the lower educated or economically insecure groups that Rowntree spoke of, who really know?

If it was young versus old, then here is my take on that. I am absolutely certain that for the last fifty years there has been a trend in demeaning Britishness (I will look at this again in a later blog on racism). On one hand we have become more affluent and multicultural while on the other hand we have become less secure and less proud of being British, and subsequent governments have allowed ‘foreign investors’ to take over large parts of industrial Britain so we are very much tenants of a land increasingly owned by others.

One of the surprising features of the post-referendum period has been the violent opposition to Brexit by those who quite obviously voted to remain. Never before have we seen the idea of “we don’t like the result of this election so let’s have another one until ‘we’ get our way”. I would suggest that behind this is fear of going down a slippery slope of isolationism into poverty because we are no longer being nurtured and cared for by the EU. (I believe that is an inaccurate perception anyway).

My own voting to leave came purely from a gut feeling that this was better for us as a nation, providing a possibility of challenging us (and our young people) to think better of ourselves and take on a new national pride (which I will no doubt refer to again in the future) and all the good things that can go with that.  I have a punchline comment to all this but will leave it to the next blog as I want to limit the length of each one to make it more readable.

Frustrating Riots

10 08 2011

A prophet who I respect, a number of years ago warned the Christian community to resist frustration that they would feel as there was an increasing breakdown in law and order in our Western societies. Frustration is, I suspect a partial cause for me writing today and a factor in many people’s lives in the light of the street riots that have been occurring in Britain this week.

Let’s go back to the beginning: the police were after a man who had, according to the media, a somewhat questionable reputation. They had information that this man was dangerous and was quite likely to be carry a gun. When they close in on him (and I am only repeating what has appeared in the media) he puts his hand in his pocket when challenged, an act that any sensible man faced by armed police would not do unless he was intent on a shoot out. The armed policeman promptly shot him through the heart. The media (TV especially) leap on this and interview his parents who make him out to be a good guy who surely wouldn’t carry a weapon – he was and it was capable of shooting people. There is the first level of frustration with misguided parents who obviously lost the plot years ago and a media that makes the police look bad.

Now there is a subtle further frustration because many of us no longer trust the police because over the past thirty year they have shown themselves often to be very human and very fallible and when you are supposed to be the bringers of justice you must be above that. There are, on the other side, all those fighters for civil rights who also lose our respect when they sound hurt, shocked and surprised when in today’s climate a suspected criminal carries a gun and they don’t expect a bad outcome! Can we not simply say quite openly, if you give the authorities cause to believe you are involved in criminal activities and you then carry a gun, please don’t be surprised if you are shot if you make any move apart from putting your hands up when challenged by uniformed police.

Next frustration: the media who use the word ‘demonstration’ when people in the street set fire and vandalise property. Call it what it is “unacceptable rioting”. At least as the days have gone on the media who stopped using the word ‘demonstrators’ and not call them what they are – looters and rioters.

Next frustration: parents and teachers. I cannot help but feel in total agreement with the shopkeeper who cried, where are the parents, what are they doing let their young kids out. The truth probably is that the parents make excuses fro their kids. Teachers? Well when the photos start going up on the TV screen of looters, I would expect teachers to (after parents who are probably going to keep their heads down) say, I recognise him/her, they’re in my class. But then comes the bigger frustration that as a society we’re going to make excuses for these kids.

Yes, it is an unfair world, yes there are people who have well paid jobs and the younger generation don’t but actually not all of the younger generation behave like this. yes, they’re frustrated that they can’t get a job in the present climate  but they go out and do volunteer work to get known or to build up a portfolio of experience for when times get better and jobs start being advertised. Who is going to get that job? The kid who has sat around doing nothing or the one who has been volunteering and learning on the unpaid job. Easy answer!

And let’s not play the colour card either. There are plenty of good coloured kids who are doing what I suggested above. No this is a ‘defeated culture’ mentality and it starts with parents and the rest of us give little encouragement. Let’s start having some honesty on the streets. As has been said by many, much of what we’ve been seeing has been mindless, self-centred, greedy, spiteful, criminal acts. Let the law take its course and may they be punished.

Which brings on yet another frustration.  Community Service? Prison? Isn’t it time we started thinking outside the box. Number One: Parents stand in the box alongside their delinquent child and  if they plead “They’re out of control,” then let the options be, either YOU will do Community Service as well, or you will attend two months worth or parent training for parents with teens to see that it’s not completely impossible to bring change. Number Two: how about completely different punishment – how about putting this rioting teenager in solitary confinement for a week and I do mean in a room for no TV, no music, no mates or no phone or anything, no company, just a bed, a drinking fountain and a toilet (all vandal proof) and no means of committing suicide, with the warning that if you re-offend, you’ll be in for three weeks and so on. Think about it. If you don’t like that I’m sure there are so other better ways than what we have at the moment. (Six weeks working in a refugee camp in Africa??)

But of course our biggest problem is not the credit crunch but the fact, as I wrote in my previous blog, that we have lost our moral compass and have no absolutes, so it is little wonder these kids have no compunction about destroying or stealing what is not theirs. That may be a reason but it’s not an excuse, for there is no excuse in a civilised society, but we might ask, is a society without any moral base founded by God, civilised any more?

Running a close second to that is our tendency to pretend that everything is all right in our society when it is clearly not. Government will need to do some rethinking (that’s what they volunteered and are paid for!) and the Church needs to come out of the woodwork and be a demonstration of a viable alternative society that has answers, God’s answers that work, as well as being caring and compassionate and there for the underclass. Frustration is a sign that things are not right and that we feel powerless to do anything about it. Are we, I wonder?