Some final thoughts on the referendum

23 Jun 2016




Many people will go to the polls today and vote in the EU Referendum. For people like myself who have campaigned for this referendum to take place for many years it is truly a momentous occasion. But whichever way the vote goes, as a country we will need to find a way to heal the divisions of a long and arduous campaign.



I have had this uneasy feeling for a little while now - a feeling that I simply cannot shake. This referendum was supposed to bring a vision of hope for our relationship with the EU. But all it has bought us is a raft of vile personality politics.



I suppose I am really in a fortunate position - I had made my mind up how I would vote if this chance ever came years ago. I still half expect something to go wrong today to prevent me from voting, such has been my growing scepticism. Both campaigns have been a total shambles and have been full of the politics of fear.



Whether we will be swarmed by 70 million Turks rushing to come to the UK, or face economic Armageddon, one thing is clear - the cases put for both Leave and Remain have not been made in a positive light. I used to be a huge fan of television debates, but now I can’t stand them. They now represent everything that is wrong with our democracy. Allegedly a group of responsible adults are going on television and attempting to “influence” our vote. But what we repeatedly see is quite simply a farcical shouting match.  Devoid of any reason, fact or logic.



The political cartel has failed us. I mean seriously failed us. When was the last time you witnessed a politician give a straight answer to a straight question during this campaign? One of my enduring memories of this shambles of a campaign is of the BBC’s Andrew Neil losing his rag on the Daily Politics. Time and time again our elected representatives go on national TV and do everything they can to avoid talking about the issues at hand.



Speaking of these issues, I urge everybody who is still undecided and yet to vote to go out and do their own research into Britain’s relationship with the EU in the time they have left. I then urge you to ask yourself some searching questions and come to your own conclusions about how to vote. Are you in favour of mass uncontrolled immigration? Are you concerned about job security? Do you think Britain’s influence will diminish outside of the EU?



These are all the sorts of questions you need to ask yourself before you head to the polling station. I know it’s confusing and I know a lot of people are scared. But it’s high time we rose above Project Fear, whatever the result tomorrow. We as the people need to start demanding the very best from our politicians. They simply can’t be allowed to keep getting away with this style of politics - it’s an insult to our intelligence.



Will you allow the kind of images that Nigel Farage and our newspapers use to shape your decision? or is it the sight of Sir Bob Geldof floating down the Thames giving fishermen a two fingered salute that will inspire you?



As ever, I have dipped into history to gain my inspiration today. The Gettysburg Address made by infamous US President Abraham Lincoln is one of the most iconic political addresses of all time, and in this address came something that is so profound our politicians of this age simply can’t match it.



Not only did Lincoln memorialise the sacrifices of those who gave their lives at Gettysburg, he ensured the survival of representative democracy: that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”.



So please, go to the polls, but don’t vote on a single issue or cast your vote based on prejudice or hate. My hero John F Kennedy said: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”.



Let’s vote with hope, not hate; inspiration instead of fear. This maybe the only chance we get to vote on this issue in our lifetimes. Don’t waste it.


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