I’m in shock right now.
The United Kingdom has just voted itself out after 43 years of EU membership. That’s longer than I’ve been alive.
I feel like this really shows the poor state of politics in many countries today. We can vote for whoever we like but both major parties are basically the same and the politicians just do what they want anyway.
The first-past-the-post Westminster system used in Britain (and the highly gerrymandered version used in the United States), provides definitive results and stable government. What it doesn’t provide is a government that anyone actually wants.
It appears to more and more people that the general public have no control over politicians, with corporate money and Rupert Murdoch rigging the election and the mainstream media being corrupt and lying. Or at least that’s what many people think, whether it is true or not. In these days of spin doctors and PR gurus, politicians work for themselves and their own interest and not for us.
This is the political environment that has brought about the rise of Donald Trump and it’s the environment that has allowed the British EU referendum to succeed.
Following the end of the Second World War, the citizens of many Western countries enjoyed in a shared prosperity caused by modernisation, post-industrialisation and globalisation. Trade and travel have become easier and the European Union has significantly helped with that, in Europe and globally.
On the down-side, globalisation has also caused many businesses to close or re-locate overseas. Politicians have embraced globalisation, as they are right to do because there are many benefits to it. But recent prosperity has not been shared.
I lived in London until 2012 and at the time there was growing unrest about the state of the economy and the direction the country was heading. I was in a well-paid job and would have struggled to buy a house. A close friend was close to bankruptcy in a decent graduate job. This is not shared prosperity.
I accept that times have changed and factory workers and shop workers are valued less than fifty years ago.
But a government needs to do the best for the country and also do the best for its people. These are not necessarily the same thing. The majority of the people need to be brought along for the ride. This EU referendum is the culmination of years of governments not looking out for all their people and the poor being left behind.
This is also a failure of the inevitability of Europe’s “ever-closer union”. Whether ever-closer political and economic union was real or imagined, it has some responsibility here for this election result. It feels to many European citizens that they have no control over the future of the European Union. I wouldn’t be surprised if these result could be replicated in other European countries.
The fallout from this currently is that the Pound has fallen by over 10% overnight. Stock markets around the world are down. Lots of uncertainty is ahead, and regular people willingly voted for it.
This all feels like a huge conspiracy that has been created for us. But we have walked in to it. The country won’t govern itself but by opting out of politics until the disaffected outnumber the rest, we have allowed this to happen.
[It's a bit late and the article above probably doesn't make much sense. The conspiracies listed above aren't really things that I believe but if enough people believe them then aren't they half true, anyway. Just like Father Christmas.]
Get out and vote but maybe more importantly, get off the keyboard and do something in the world more than just posting on Twitter or Facebook and putting a tick in a box once every few years.