• Paul Bell

The night before the EU referendum



We are at the end of what seems like a long referendum debate. I do not know how Scotland got through two years of campaigning.

But tomorrow we go to the polls. I've witnessed hysterical over-reaction, bullying and prejudice. I've seen common sense and emotional intelligence sacrificed by both sides of the argument. I've learnt a new word "remainiac" and come across a lot of decent people on both sides of the debate. However, the level of patronising and condescending comments is beyond redemption. Some people clearly hate their own country. Some people clearly hate immigrants. Some people clearly cannot calmly convert passion into reasoned argument.

Both sides in this debate" "leave" and "remain" have been utterly appalling, though Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson have shown great integrity and leadership. I cringed when I saw the picture of Kate Hoey on a boat with Nigel Farage. I hate seeing Sir Richard Branson - NHS privatiser - pictured as a good guy for "remain". He isn't. He is part of the problem.

What a number of "elites" both in and out of the main political parties don't get is that the working class are fed-up of not seeing economic recovery shared, their granny not getting a knee operation and their children unable to find a job or get on the housing ladder. We are fed-up of austerity politics. Some are deserting the Labour Party because the liberal elites in the Party do not want to talk about immigration. We have made ourselves a minority party in Scotland because the dangers of the nationalists were not recognised. The same is now happening in the northern parts of England and South Wales.

Whatever the result, we need to move on and adjust. I've been reflecting on what is the best choice for my country, constituents but also my friends and family. It is the most difficult political decision I've had to make. I've witnessed some say that voters are too stupid to decide. A bit like comments made around the time of the 1832 Reform Act by the chattering classes and aristocracy.

Referenda divide, polarise and label people based on what side they choose. They create tribal loyalty, like opposing football teams in the FA Cup Final or in this case the European Union finals. So while, I've been asked to take a side, I've mostly kept my opinions to myself.

I would only say this: whether you vote "leave" or "remain", do so on your own terms. I am not going to ask people to vote my way. Referenda are a personal matter. Be confident in your choice, but also realise that we have a job to do to get rid of the elites wherever they shelter, to truly create a more equal and fair society. We need to win the General Election in 2020 or sooner perhaps.

The "left" needs to learn some lessons on appealing and educating a larger section of society. This includes embracing patriotism and rejecting nationalism. I know many people will disagree with me. That is what happens when you publicly blog rather than privately journal. But in the morning, we need to be friends.

#EUReferendum

© 2020 Paul Bell. All views are my own, unless otherwise stated