So, you got it wrong on the big day?
Did you vote for Brexit and regret it as soon as the result was announced? Did you vote for Jeremy and wonder why Labour lacks effective, vote-winning leadership?
Did you vote Conservative because the Lib Dems got it so wrong and broke their promises?
You don’t need me to tell you you should thing carefully before you cast a vote that could change the way the country, and even the rest of the world, operates in the years to come. And yet…
…it seems many people realise pretty quickly afterwards that they got it wrong on the big day, But do they think about why that was and how they can avoid the same mistake next time?
Let’s look at Brexit. Clearly, there were a lot of reasons why people voted ‘leave’. The problem was, they all got added together in the final count. From xenophobia to misunderstanding how the EU works, to believing the Brexiteers had a coherent plan (and the means to implement it), all these factors were weighed against the status quo which, while generally the easier and safer option, isn’t particularly exciting and definitely has its problems.
“Can we fix it? No, let’s leave”.
On Corbyn, many people joined the Labour Party specifically to vote for him. But why? Because, I think, they felt they were voting against Cameron and the Tories. They weren’t, of course. They were voting against the people who could just possibly beat Cameron and Co when the next real vote comes around. And, for all the overwhelming support he has among Labour members, they still amount to a very small proportion of the electorate.
As for the Liberal Democrats, since when did the minority party in a coalition get to implement more of its policies than the majority party? The Lib Dems, as we have seen since, ameliorated many of the Tories’ more extreme policies and yet got the blame for most of the less popular decisions made during their time in ‘power’. Clever politics (and media control) by the Tories all but destroyed the Lib Dems next time around. They’ll be back but not until time puts events into historocal perspective.
One thing Brexit has done is upset the status quo for all the major parties. Labour is suffering most (if you believe everything you read), but if Corbyn was more secure you would probably see the Tories fracturing before your eyes. In truth, they’re in much the same state, except that they’re in power, with more access to media and good PR.
The Lib Dems, meanwhile, are still licking their wounds. Just a handful of MPs and a disheartened membership aren’t the most obvious starting point for a major recovery but a strong and consistent message now from a media-savvy leadership could recapture the middle ground they held so recently. Rabid racism, reactionary socialism and old school tie Toryism each only appeal to small minorities. Most of us are moderate. Most believe in something like social democracy.
For thoughtful voters, moderation is instinctive and natural. Something like the status quo (always with room for improvement) is probably the preferred outcome for most of us.
Just think next time. What are you voting for and what are you protesting against? What effect will your vote actually have on the people and institutions you want to protest against? Did voting for Corbyn actually hurt Cameron one bit? Does Brexit make Britain better? Did punishing the Lib Dems help to stop the nation’s slide to the right?
Ask yourself: how can I have a more positive effect on the future?
Think. Vote, definitely. But please think very hard before you do.