Even the question wasn't right

On this blog, I rarely venture into the realm of politics, but these days the political charge being felt both in the UK and around the world is so much greater.  One point in particular that has been grinding my gears is the subject of 'Brexit'.

Now - cards on the table - I voted to stay in the EU, and I still believe that's the better place to be.  Yes, we get some stuffy rules to deal with and extra standards to work to, and - as any self respecting bigot will tell you - all those pesky foreigns coming over here and taking doing our jobs, but overall I think it's a good thing that the world was becoming more as one.  However, I saw the result and close call though it was, the country as a whole voted to get the hell out, so here we are.

So great news then: 'we' can 'take back control' and 'give the NHS lots more cash' and do all that crap we were sold and we heard parrotted up and down the country from idiots in vox pops.

But recent developments in the Brexit soap opera have caused me to realise something - of all the things we were mis-sold about the whole sorry thing, the actual question being asked at the ballot box was the most significant in it's wrongness.

What we were asked:
'Do you want the UK to exit from the European Union'?

But what we were effectively being asked was:
'Do you want the UK to get a full and accurate idea about what leaving the EU would mean'?

Because at the point the question was being asked, we didn't have a bloody clue - both the people entering the ballot box and those arguing for or against - and we aren't that much more informed today.  Different people interpreted the prospect of going our own way differently - that it would mean anything from returning to some imagined idyll from the 1950's to somehow ejecting all foreigners and stopping new ones coming in (despite there being an employment demand for them so basically nope), to surviving and prospering on our own because we did alright in 'the old days', to being sold on the idea that we could take some imagined lump of money - currently being sent to the EU with no return on investment - and somehow turn it into hospitals and nurses and schools and reopened libraries and shops and factories.  Yes, there will be some sound economic benefits to business, (assuming we can get a good enough deal) but if you asked the layman on the street what these benefits would be, you'd be hard-pressed to get more than a vague answer derived from the manifestation of these dreams.

So asking the leave/no leave question was the incorrect thing to do at that point.  Problem was, you need a simple, pointed question to get the voting juices flowing and the actual question that needed asking wasn't pointy enough, so the other one was put in front of the public instead.

Amidst the political chaos and the new schism that cuts across parties and communities giving us one more thing to fight over, we are slowly starting to get some ideas of what Brexit will actually mean.  Don't ask me as it's still not agreed upon and distilled down to the point where a political novice such as myself can understand it, but when it is - and the public at large can ingest it - that is when we need to be asked.  Because at that point - and ONLY at that point, can we make a decision based on the deal put in front of us rather than a load of dog-whistle lead stories.

Recently, Vince Cable ('me and my cable') has reiterated the Lib Dem's position that they will offer a second referendum at the point when the Brexit deal is agreed, linking nicely with the abort button offered by the EU commission right up until the end.  Although I don't think Vince's party is equipped for government, in principle I agree we should be given the choice at that point. 

But I think their PR people aren't communicating to the public the most compelling reason for it - that asking us if we want to leave won't actually be a second referendum - it'll be the first time we can give an answer based on reason and fact as much as - or if not more so than - emotion. 

Regardless of whether you share my position on leave/remain, we can surely all agree we should be asked a question with such far-reaching consequences after we have our hands on the full picture, not before.

1 comment:

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