So I’ve had a lot of conversations regarding Brexit and the campaigns surrounding it. There have been a lot of interesting points made and a lot of good arguments had, none of which came from LadBible’s Josh Teal, who claimed to have “smoked me” after his attempt at an argument resorted to calling me names and telling me to put things inside my ass. Great smoking lad, you really got me! All that aside, I wanted to address his main argument and the main argument of a lot of people out there right now. The Democracy Argument.
52% voted leave, and on first glance you’re right; it would be in the interest of protecting our national democracy to uphold the vote. This kind of makes sense, a majority of people voted to leave, and so we should, that’s how democracy works right? I could see a lot of people getting angry, especially those who don’t vote often or at all already. This is probably a lot of people’s first vote in a long time, and more importantly, its probably the first time they’ve ever felt connected to politics. To have that taken away from them could risk disenfranchising them; they’ll look at it and say “well we won the vote and nothing changed, the system is rigged!” But we need our voters, we need every person of the Kingdom to be United and help decide our future together. That’s what our democracy has always been about, and so alienating people from voting really isn’t in the interests of the country.
Yet I can’t shake the feeling that our democracy has been permanently damaged by this referendum vote. Regardless of whether our MPs and Prime Minister trigger article 50 or not. Neither can millions of people across the country, who have engaged in protests. People who Josh Teal believes are idiots trying to undermine our democracy, and I wholeheartedly disagree. They’re the only ones who realise just how soiled our democracy has gotten from this referendum.
My problem is regarding everything that happened before the vote. Much like Michael Dougan, I think that the Brexit campaigning, on both sides couldn’t possibly have lead to a democratic decision. Dougan himself says that the leave campaign’s advertising ranged from misrepresentations of the truth to outright deception.
When we think of voters being intimidated into voting a certain way and the idea of democratic theatre. We usually think of Middle Eastern countries, or African countries. Places where we in the western world can expect there to be levels of corruption and intimidation forcing the hand of the voters. We don’t expect this kind of thing on our home turf, but that’s kind of what happened.
If we take a look at the Wikipedia page for Electoral Fraud, it gives us a nice long list of things that are considered fraudulent to do to win an election. Lets see how many we can apply to the Brexit campaign shall we?
First of all we have Intimidation, with its sub-category violence or threats of violence. This comes in the form of anti-immigration rhetoric. This one applies because the Leave campaign made claims regarding immigrants coming to this country and the “immediate accession of Turkey to the EU”. The violence comes from the fears and anxieties voters already have surrounding Islamic people. Political figures themselves have even said things such as “Isis members will use the migrant crisis to enter Europe!” Here’s a video of Nigel Farrage implying that very thing saying “When ISIS say they will use the migrant crisis to flood the European continent with their jihadi fighters, I suggest we take them seriously.” from 7:46 onwards. This video is from after Brexit, but I’m sure if you look hard enough you’ll find the implication of terrorism to be a common theme throughout Leave.
Next is Misinformation; which is defined in the Wikipedia article as “People may distribute false or misleading information in order to affect the outcome of an election.” Which is pretty obvious has happened. Within 8 hours of the results being announced Nigel Farage was on television saying that the claim 350 million could be given to the NHS was a “mistake” of the leave campaign. You’re damn right it was a mistake, because its actually electoral fraud. This is only one of many U-turns on promises that the leave campaign had made prior to the vote. Other misinformation includes the immediate accession of Turkey to the EU and the idea that the EU is going to have it’s own EU Army.
This is a big deal, because the statistics show that the majority of Leave voters were uneducated, working class or elderly. This is not an indictment of those people whatsoever, they are just statistical facts. They’re important facts because these are the people who were most likely to need to have solid and good information to have made an informed vote. They didn’t receive this and instead voted on the basis of misinformation, they voted on the basis of an electoral fraud.
As a bonus round you could probably also include the 350 million to be given to the NHS as vote-buying defined as “Voters may be given money or other rewards for voting in a particular way, or not voting.”
These are only the most prominent claims, I’m sure if someone dug a little deeper they could find so much more evidence to the fact our democracy has been subverted. It would be neat for some kind of legal academic or professional to have a look over the campaigns and see what he thinks… oh wait, he did do that and I’ve linked it already. Here’s the full version of his assessment. If you’re like my new friend Josh who thinks its anti-democracy for people to feel and behave this way regarding the brexit campaign and result and you’re certain that’s how it is. Then what have you got to lose by considering the opposition’s position?
Whatever the case, all of this needs to be fully understood before anyone makes any moves regarding actually triggering Article 50 and commencing negotiations with the EU. There have been far too many mistakes made during this campaign, lets try not to make any more.