Just a few words about on-going controversy about Europe and so called Brexit (a made up word to describe something no one really understands, so very apt then!) and whether or not people knew what they were voting for.
You could always argue people didn’t know what they were voting for in loads of other examples.
Think about this.
Take every general election since virtually the dawn of time.
Has anyone voted in a general election where in one or any of the manifestos it said the government would go to war? Not as far as I know they didn’t. They would though have said that if they won the election they would defend the country.
Since 1948 has a mainstream party had in their manifesto that they would destroy the NHS? I can’t recall one. They all say they would defend the NHS.
Another example. Taxes. Parties generally pledge not to increase them, specifically income tax. 2001 may have been an exception where Labour pledged to increase National Insurance by 1pence in the pound for the NHS.
So what happens in the end? Unsurprisingly, events happen over time. We go to war not because we want to but because national security dictates we do. One can argue about the specific examples but you get my point I hope. We’re defending the country or our interests they will say.
Parts of the NHS have been slowly privatised and waiting times have gone up. It happens over time and the government can point to keeping their pledge with certain areas of spending increased but the evidence is there for all to see.
Taxes have been raised more times than we can all remember. VAT, National Insurance, Council tax. You name it, it happens!
Did anyone vote for any of this though? No is generally the response.
So my question is this.
When people voted in the European referendum last year, what were they voting for? To partially leave? To leave on good terms? To stay but change the agreement of our membership?
It seems to me the question was as straight forward as it could have been: Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union? Vote yes or vote no.
How all this will end up is anyone’s guess. The idea that we always know everything about what we are voting for is absurd. We may suspect of course in some circumstances!
However, that being the case, just like after every vote this country has ever had, the argument will and must go on. Our country must not descend further into the sort of intolerant abuse that too often these days blights public discourse. That’s the point of a democracy. Everybody, and I mean everybody, including Tony Blair, has the right to argue their corner.
To finish, I quote our American cousins and friends: ‘it’s the peaceful transition of power.’