I have tried really hard to thing of how to write a post this morning. The obvious topic for a UK blogger is, of course, the vote for the UK to leave the EU. However, since Friday morning, all anyone has talked about, all anyone has reported, has been the consequences of this vote and I am not sure I can add anything to such a massive debate. I have felt heartsick since four in the morning on Friday.
So, inspired by an Irish friend who wrote very eloquently on Facebook about how she, as a UK resident of twenty years, feels after the vote, I decided to try to give some more personal perspectives rather than historical ones.
On Saturday night, I held a party in aid of the Macmillan cancer charity. Night of Lights, a nationwide effort. It had been a while in the planning and it brought together a group of people whom I have known for over ten years. They include a judge, research scientists, a public art consultant, a planning officer, housewives, an employee of a multinational manufacturer, a railway engineer, a financial services director, civil servants. You get the idea. A group of well educated people. All with children. All voted Remain. Even those who usually disagree politically did agree on this one issue.
I did tell them I would be charging for every mention of the referendum, on behalf of the charity pot. But as you can imagine, especially after alcohol, that was impossible. The most fascinating - and disturbing thing - though was the stories from everyone of how this decision is likely to affect their professions and their lives. Legislative changes and rights now at risk. Research projects wholly funded by the EU - in the environment, health, etc. Changes to anti-flood funding and insurance rights. The multinational employee, about to leave on an international job placement, saying their family may just not return to the UK. Transport funding. Pension concerns. Work in Scotland maybe needing a passport in the future. Waiting on a mortgage application.
Much has been said about the North/South and young/old vote divides, amongst other statistics. Part of me wanted to write today about an education divide. Then you remember that most of the Leave campaign's most prominent people were public school-educated! But there is a huge divide in understanding. If all you read is the Daily Mail or The Sun, for example, and if those papers are all your peer group quotes or writes about on Facebook or wherever, how could you possibly understand what you were voting for? You thought you were voting to stop immigration and to get more money for the NHS. You have been consistently told that all your woes are caused by unelected faceless people in Europe.
Setting aside, but not by any means ignoring, the fact that so many people have revealed themselves to be racist, both sides of the campaign must take responsibility for such a nasty negative approach. No-one explained to the mass of voters about what the EU actually does for them. No-one tried to reach the sink estates and say 'we know it is bad for you but please understand that the EU is not the cause of your problems. Look at all the things it funds and protects.'
As for educated people who believe they made a considered decision to vote Leave, I have fought for democracy and transparency all my life. I respect your right to your opinion. But I do strongly believe that you are in a minority and that without the votes of desperate, usually disenfranchised people, you would not have won. I hope you can live with yourselves when you see your children and grandchildren taking the consequences of your actions on 23 June 2016.