It’s now over half a century since I was involved in my first ever political campaign. (In case you’re interested, it was stuffing envelopes for my father’s efforts to get elected to the local council.) I’ve been quite an active campaigner over the years, less keen to do so in recent years as politics in the UK has become steadily more fractious.
The referendum campaign has finally killed off what was left of my enthusiasm for politics.
Firstly, there are all the lies and scaremongering that has been going on – from BOTH sides. Some of it has been so far off the wall that it can only come from a political class so far out of touch with the people that they think we can’t see through their charlantry. They must hold us in such contempt.
The atmosphere is now poisonous. What should be reasoned, polite debate is now little more than a refereed slanging match in which second-raters talk loudly over each other and trade playground insults in a desperate bid to become that evening’s lead sound bite. We’ve even invented a new sport – Morton’s Forking – in which your stated position is wrapped up with a false dichotomy in order to “prove” that you stand for something else.
Most offensive of all, and probably the most damaging to our democracy is the readiness to demonise the opposition. Earlier this month I posted up about the horrible turn in British politics that suggests you cannot be friends with those of a different opinion. The referendum campaign has taken this even further, and for me it is the final straw.
So far this week I have been branded as ignorant, unintelligent and a “knuckle-dragger” because I support leaving the EU – and that was just in one post on Facebook. It’s been suggested that because I’ve voted to come out of the EU I support UKIP, the BNP and Britain First. Total bloody codswallop, and offensive codswallop at that. And finally there is the fact that it has become impossible nowadays to express any concern about the level of immigration into the UK without immediately being branded as a hate-filled bigot.
This is not the way to have a reasoned debate, people. As a country we have failed to do so and by such failure we have risked the legitimacy of the vote.
Today, sadly, is not a proud one for our country.