After seeing all of the arguments, anger, outrage and occasional insanity going on over the whole exit situation in the UK right now, I find myself having decidedly mixed feelings over the whole thing. While it’s nice to see that their political system is just as screwed up as ours is over here, I do have considerable sympathy for them and what they’re going through.
The arguments by both sides of the issue have ranged from thoughtful and logical to utterly ridiculous and even borderline insane. The leave faction has blamed the EU for everything from unemployment, to a failing health care system, to increased violence and crime, to, well, everything, really. Basically if it was bad, and it happened in the UK, the leave faction blamed the EU for it.
On the other side of the coin, the stay faction was employing similar tactics. The EU was responsible for everything great and good, according to them. It was fostering economic prosperity, improving human rights, made the sun come up in the morning, was responsible for nice weather…
Well, okay, so I’m getting a bit silly, but no more silly than some of the things I’ve heard and read that were coming from the people on both sides of the issue.
The truth of the matter is that both sides are right. Or both sides are wrong. However you want to look at it.
I don’t think there’s much doubt that the EU was economically beneficial for some (but certainly not for all) people. It almost certainly helped improve human rights for a lot of people. It made trade easier, made business easier, made travel easier.
But at the same time it could be argued that the average citizen of the UK, people in the low to mid income ranges, so little or none of those benefits. In fact, as far as lot of them were concerned, their situations got worse. Housing prices skyrocketed, the job market shrank, wages stagnated. The EU seemed to become increasingly dictatorial, overriding local and national laws and policies.
Still, I think that the vote would have swung the other way if it hadn’t been for Cameron and his cronies panicking as it came down to the wire and they saw the polls were indicating that the stay or leave vote was in a dead heat.
Instead of continuing to focus on the benefits of staying in the EU, they began uttering vague, even overt threats. The pension system would be decimated if they leave. The country will be thrown into depression. The economy would go down the toilet. The UK would become a third world country overnight…
Most of those threats were either outright lies or wildly exaggerated, and the people realized that. Nor do the British respond well to being threatened. It tends to make them dig in their heels and get a bit testy. And I think that in the end, that’s what helped push the leave vote over the top.
Cameron and his advisers are, I think, largely responsible for the leave faction winning. They completely misread the situation. Frankly, I always got the impression that Cameron and his people were in over their heads since they came into power, but that’s another story.