I’ve often woken up on the morning after a vote with a sense of disappointment. It’s unfortunately a feeling that’s all-to-familiar for me and many of the people whom I choose to call my friends.
It is estimated that a week’s worth of information in a single newspaper contains more information that someone in the 18th Century was likely to come across in a lifetime.
Living outside of London, I grew up constantly frustrated by the London-centric coverage on the news; the family holidays where people would ask where you were from, and London became synonymous with England – or by big business talking up London being the capital of the world, and ignoring the wonderful cities of Britain who’ve contributed significantly to London’s affluence. Would London be as affluent today without Sheffield Steel, Manchester’s Cotton, Sunderland’s Shipping & Cardiff’s Coal? Industry helped lift London up to be able to compete at a global scale.
It’s easy to focus on a class-divide between the voting groups, but it’s both more complicated and more simple than that. Where London and affluent Britain have failed to provide, the EU have stepped in to fill the void. It is an unfortunate irony that the election results show that those areas most heavily reliant on EU funding (therefore abandoned by the current UK political system) have voted to leave the EU. Theirs was not a vote for separatism, isolation, or political ideals, but a vote for change.
The other realisation after the vote, is that posts such as this one are being published places that fail to reach a representative audience. What vehicle do we have that allows us to bridge the chasm between those who voted out and those voting in? Historically that may have been the Labour party – but how many unions are properly represented outside of London? Sure there are national unions, but due to the volume of people they need to represent in London, has their focus left their members outside of London frustrated?
Some videos have been doing the rounds based that illustrate ignorance & xenophobia; responses to those videos have been just as ignorant and xenophobic. Neither side who’s actively engaged in this debate comes out of this with any credibility. Those of us who failed to engage lack it even more. Politics has always been a communication game – 100 years ago it was different. It wasn’t possible to actively communicate every nuance of every policy – instead we had representatives that we believed acted on principle and with integrity. Watching shows like ‘Peaky blinders’ – are we that ignorant to believe that ever was the case? Is it not more likely that the controls around what was communicated were tighter?
We now have a different communication problem. We need to find a way to communicate across boundaries. We’ve got a supposedly neutral BBC, a right-wing Sky, and nothing balancing their arguments. We don’t have a Jon Stewart. We have a negative Guardian (when’s the last time you read an article with a positive spin)? Yes – the world isn’t perfect and it doesn’t align perfectly to our ideals. The answer isn’t to give up, to throw stones – the answer is to start to move it towards where we want it to be for the future.