I've spent many hours sitting on my kitchen floor since 23.06.2016 debating all aspects of Brexit on Twitter and Facebook. I'm now going to ratchet my heart even further onto my sleeve and say something here too. Remainers and Leavers: please read on.
Below is a neutral letter that everyone horrified by the fallout of the UK's EU referendum result on 24.06.2016 can send to their MP, if they like, inspired by one composed by the fabulous Steve Larkin (click here to read his original letter). I hope for the sake of avoiding a civil war (I am not joking; read how this article ends) that voters on either side of the debate will consider sending this neutral letter to their democratic representative. I voted Remain (PLEASE READ ON ANYWAY!!), but not to protect democracy - I voted Remain to prevent us sliding into the catastrophic pit of horror that is very likely be unleashed on the UK now as we see thousands of job losses, the poor getting even poorer and even angrier, the rich getting richer (since they likely hedged their bets on the outcome and they never lose anyway). Call me short-termist - it's just that I really hate war, and for me, the last 70 years of relative peace on our soil (not that we didn't enjoy plenty of conflict overseas during this time) was enough to persuade me that continued EU membership was a good idea.
Now that the people have spoken, it IS time to look at democracy. Our ancient, creaking parliamentary democracy, where we elect representatives we don't feel represent us using a system that is clearly not working. Voter registration has gone down over the last few years as the UK population has increased. DOWN. Why? Because people don't feel connected. Because people are too busy doing what they need to do to keep alive. And because the new single voter registration system introduced by the Tories in 2014, supposedly to prevent fraud, made it harder for more mobile citizens (eg. renters such as the young and students - coincidentally, not traditionally Tory voters) to register. You can call that a conspiracy if you like - I prefer to call it gerrymandering, as the Tories then attempted to redefine constituency boundaries according to the new electoral roll - as opposed to the census' population count for each area. Yes, you read that right. Thankfully, our creaking Parliament voted against doing this until at least 2018. Why did we not notice any of this at the time and shout it from the rooftops? Perhaps because for some time prior to last Thursday, we were happy to delegate decisions like these to our parliamentary representatives. That is, after all, the point of them.
Perhaps many Leave voters knew all this. Perhaps Leave voters held the viable perspective on human history where positive change is usually engendered by violent upheaval. In that case - fair enough. Condemn us Remainers and our short-sightedness. But if the idea of human progress is that "...advances in technology, science, and social organization can produce an improvement in the human condition", please, please can we not drag ourselves back into the dark ages by using violence and anger before debate and reform? ISIS are already having enough success in the world doing exactly that - and the Leave vote was as much a twice-removed protest against the rise of ISIS and all its associated ills (immigration, the edgier aspects of multiculturalism, etc.) as it was a cry to give people back the livelihoods and self-esteem that Thatcher stole from them (and their kids, and grandkids) just after we joined the EEC in 1972.
We're ruled by a bunch of Tory elites who cannot possibly represent us - they have no idea what our lives are like, who we are or what we feel, as this referendum has clearly shown. Our response to that must not be to divide even further. We must not aim the pointy finger of blame at people escaping war in their home countries, or people who have lived here for generations but happen not to be white, or anyone else OTHER THAN THE BROKEN SYSTEM WHICH DOES NOT REPRESENT US and the terrible decisions that has enabled. We must UNITE. We must abolish the things that divide us - from first class on trains (yes!) to public schools and tuition fees - and RECONNECT WITH EACH OTHER. We can all be citizens TOGETHER.
Please send this letter. Or go on a demo. Or speak to your neighbours. Or start a chat down the pub. Or do some volunteering. Or read around this issue - a lot. It takes time but it's worth it. Don't do what "they" want you to - do what YOU need you to do. GET INVOLVED.
Thanks for reading :)
Dear [your MP's name goes here; click to find out name & email],
The UK's EU referendum was won with such a slender majority that it has caused a dangerous schism in UK society and highlighted that our current party-political system is no longer fit for purpose. I am very concerned about the future of the UK and request your help in the following ways:
Firstly: I urge you to press for an immediate debate on reform of our electoral system to an entirely new one which allows the opinions of UK citizens from across the entire political spectrum to be reflected in the makeup of Government.
Secondly: I urge you to call for an immediate general election as I believe the EU vote is effectively a vote of no confidence in the current UK government.
Thirdly, post-election, I urge you to press for an immediate parliamentary vote on triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. This will be far fairer to the entire UK population than having such a vote now. I will expect you to vote on this in the manner you feel best represents your constituency (should it indeed still be you acting as MP at this time).
I would be grateful if you could please acknowledge this letter as soon as possible.
[insert your name here]