Referendum Reaction: We are now in uncharted waters. And a different country
Project Fear Becomes Project Reality
The phrase ‘turkeys voting for Christmas’ springs to mind
From a working class perspective, it feels as though we’ve been led up the garden path. Our legitimate grievances over unemployment, living standards and public services have been exploited. They’ve been exploited by Boris Johnson, whose government is the main engineer of so much of austerity Britain’s suffering. They’ve been exploited by Nigel Farage, who encouraged division and demonisation knowing full well that his promises were hollow (he’s already, shamelessly, admitted as much). They’ve been exploited to advance an agenda that will only cause struggling communities further harm, making us painfully complicit in our own hardships.
We were told to ignore expert after expert for the sake of intangibles like sovereignty and control. Yet now, with a fresh recession being overseen by an even more right-wing Conservative government, cuts will cut deeper and services are likely to flounder. In that case, will a needless bid for insularism really feel worthwhile?
I'd love nothing more than to be wrong. We're in uncharted waters, so things could potentially pan out in the UK's favour. The early signs are far from promising, though. That isn't 'Project Fear' speaking, either. It isn’t scare-mongering when the things you most dreaded about a Leave vote – a spiralling economy, severed international partnerships, a rise in xenophobia, a fragmenting UK – are already happening. That’s not Project Fear. As of today, it’s Project Reality.
Democracy Without Education Is Fertile Ground For Fascism
Democracy is about rule by the people, the 'demos'. Why is that valuable? Because for one person or group of people to have authority over others they should have their consent and interests at heart.
Plato thought that democracy was a very bad idea. He thought that it was rule by the ignorant and that a truly just society would be governed by philosopher kings. Only they would be in pursuit of and in love with truth and knowledge. Plato has been criticised for being paternalistic and totalitarian. It is at least true that we don't have philosopher kings to hand.
It is often said that democracy is the best of a bad bunch of systems. That's true given our real world constraints. But for democracy to be good we need to support and value features in our society that enable people to engage in the democratic process in a meaningful way. The lead up to the referendum was patronising and infantilising. The politicians and media have played on the most base emotions of fear, blame and prejudice. They have not engaged the public in thinking and discussing complex issues.
This does not contribute to a meaningful autonomy which would support our capacity to reason and deliberate with information to help with that. This government is attacking our education system and the value of thinking and reasoning both of which are fundamental to a good democracy. What scares me is not so much what people have voted but why they have voted for it. Democracy without good education, mixed in with austerity and poverty, is fertile ground for fascism.
We Woke Up To A Very Different Country
Look at a "heat map" of the electoral and the message is clear.
Not the 52:48 headline result but the overwhelming desire by London, Northern Ireland and Scotland to be part of the European Union and the equally strident demand by vast swaths of the southwest, east, north and Midlands of England - and less so Wales - to leave.
We woke On Friday up to a very different country and a broken one. Scotland's political leaders will surely demand a second independence referendum. There is already talk of a poll on a united Ireland.
More than six out of 10 Londoners voted to remain which is little surporise given the close integration of its financial services, ceative industries, academic sector and its population with the rest of Europe.
In a perfect world Lonndon should be able to express its desire to stay within Europe by declaring independence. Scexit and NIexit might open the door to that. But whether or not those happens the argument for a federal system is now unanswerable.
'But whether or not that happens the argument for a federal system is now unanswerable. The next step is devolution and then perhaps a union with Scotland. #ScotLond is already featuring on Twitter.
GRIM DIAGNOSIS: SCIENCE WILL BE A LOSER FROM BREXIT
One of the only groups that will be almost unanimously disappointed by the EU referendum result is the UK’s scientists. Numerous stats have been bandied around. We put in 11% of the EU science budget and receive 15% back. Around 15% of our researchers are from the EU. Work in important areas like rare diseases is much easier within the EU.
Of course there are outliers who believe UK science will be better out of the EU. But most scientists will tell you that research has more impact if it is carried out with an international partner – and that science will suffer if we don’t take advantage of the collaborations available right on our doorstep.
Under the current government’s regime of austerity politics, it’s hard to see how shortfalls in the science budget will be recovered – especially if there is an economic downturn. It’s also difficult to believe that European scientists will be as willing to work here if they have to fill in a huge long form so that some administrator can work out whether they score enough points. Why wouldn’t they just go somewhere else, armed simply with their passport?
Everyone knows the UK is a scientific powerhouse, but leaving the EU presents a serious risk to this status and we’ll need to see some seriously hard work from the Government and the scientific community to overcome it.
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