So Leave happened.
And there’s a lot of Leave-bashing going on and it is not funny. Countless pro-Remain people are saying that Leave voters (for whatever reason) are racist or stupid or have been duped. There are many reasons why some people don’t like an un-wieldy, bureaucratic, non-British body which has regulatory power over the UK. And if we ignore these people, or deride them, we aren’t solving the problem.
Just take a look at social media. Actually, don’t. You won’t come back. I’ll briefly summarise much of the Remain social media rhetoric:
Vote Remain on Thursday, vote Leave of Friday. Tee-hee!
The Leave voters think you need to use a pen, instead of a pencil! Ho ho!
Look at how silly the pro-Remain politicians are! Boris Johnson’s hair! Nigel Farage’s clothes! Chortle chortle!
Now look passed the jokes.
Most of them are insulting to – let us not forget – more than 50% of the British public. There is a lot of anger and fear out there and people are angry about real things. Wages haven’t improved for some groups in decades. House-buying is difficult for the young; a problem that doesn’t just frustrate Millenials, but their parents who want their kids to be able to get out of their house. School class sizes are high. And NHS waiting times are rocketing.
‘But if we leave the EU, the economy will collapse!’ we all chimed.
Have you ever been to Darwen? Have you been to Redcar? Have you visited Grimsby? When did you last go to Hartlepool? These places haven’t seen investment or attention in decades. Their economy collapsed years ago.
And I’m sure that some people in those areas point the finger at EU migration for these problems. Immigrant workers tend to be employed, so they ‘take’ jobs. They tend to live in houses, so they ‘take’ homes. They have children who go to school, so they ‘take’ places. And if they get sick, these immigrants go to hospital.
The Leave campaign whipped up this underlying fear and anger; admittedly, with dodgy figures and bombastic rhetoric. But despite being debunked and derided at every turn, the Leave bandwagon has kept rolling. Despite being told to stop harping on about £350M, they did. People are still clamouring for ‘sovereignty’ – whatever that means – and that Brussels bureaucrats shouldn’t have regulatory powers on our jam jars.
And instead of soothing that anger and allaying those fears, we laugh at them. We deride their intelligence and call them racist. The feeling in London is one of disbelief that non-London, non-university-educated, non-flat white drinkers voted to Leave.
‘How could they Leave? Everyone I know is pro-EU, so I don’t understand how so many voted Leave. Stupid racists!’
That is exactly the attitude that Leave voted against. And I realise that I am exactly the sort of person they voted against. Flat whites are delicious. But I don’t want to insult Leave-voters, or ridicule them, or question their intelligence. They’re angry. Really angry.
And that anger isn’t going to go away just because you’ve made a derisive joke about how stupid more than 17 million people are.