Here’s something outrageous. I’m not sure I agree with democracy as it is in our country! I know, I should probably be anathematised. I’ve been known to suggest, to the horror of people listening, that I think there should be some kind of multiple choice test to determine that the issues are understood before your vote is counted. And if that had been the case with this referendum I suspect my vote would not have been counted. And I’d have been OK with that.
But that’s not how it works. And as I have a vote I believe I have a responsibility to use that vote, along with all the the other eligible voters with their differing degrees of understanding.
And I voted leave.
This wasn’t a decision I took lightly: it was taken after much prayer and, albeit limited, thinking about the question and debates. And I want to explain what got me to this decision, not because I expect it to change your mind (and even if it did, it wouldn’t matter because the vote has been and gone) but because some of the things that have been said since the vote on social media have been, if I’m honest, hurtful. I want to offer an explanation in the hope that, perhaps, if anyone does read this, it soften their hearts somewhat to those of us who did vote leave.
So, here goes:
1. The EU was established in the wake of the devastation of WW2 and with the need to rebuild relationships. We’re no longer in that place, and I didn’t feel that a strong enough reason for the continuation of such a body was given. Especially when the way it works today is so far removed from those initial ideals.
2. I hope that leaving the EU will lessen the growth of UKIP and the far right. What have they got to fight for now? Their whole battleground this past General Election was the EU and ‘taking back control’. We’ve done that now. Those who moved from the Conservatives and Labour this General Election will now, I hope, move back to their original allegiances. Obviously I have absolutely no evidence of this – just a hope.
3. The EU and immigration gets scapegoated often for issues we face in our country. Perhaps now we can more readily work together to look for a solution to our difficulties, rather than lambasting a political body and immigration.
4. I believe in small government. I believe in helping those you know of in need and not expecting the government to sort it. I believe in lower taxes but higher personal giving. Idealistic I know. But there we go. And so I honestly think that less high level governance is better.
5. We don’t have to come out of relationship with European countries just because we’re not in the EU together, surely? Surely we can respect and relate to one another without having to have it orchestrated and given authority by a political body.
6. Our economy may crash once we’ve left. But I’m sure the last recession happened whilst we were still in the EU. And some countries within the EU are not exactly enjoying economic success right now.
7. I believe that multiculturalism and immigration is fantastic for our country. But I think that, before we consider what makes our country exciting and vibrant, we need to consider the plight of political and social refugees. Perhaps now we have the potential to say ‘no’ to unlimited European movement we’ll more readily have open arms and doors for those fleeing war torn countries and persecution. They might not bring ‘as much’ to our country, but I’m not sure that what we can ‘get out’ of people should be our primary motive.
So there we go. You are totally at liberty to think I made a bad decision, that I didn’t fully understand the arguments, or that I have missed the point entirely. But please, don’t call me a racist anymore. Please stop saying that the way I think makes you want to leave the country. Please stop using social media as a way to say things about me that you wouldn’t say to me over coffee – it hurts no less. Please don’t try to humiliate and belittle me by saying that you can’t possibly believe how anyone could vote this way: I made the best decision I could based on the information I had. And please don’t call me small minded: no, I might not have fully understood this debate and all its issues, but I didn’t set out to offend or hurt anyone.