Politicians are inherently concerned with power, both acquiring it and maintaining it. The motivations behind this concern can be a genuine desire to improve their communities, or tax-payer funded massage of their messiah complex. Unfortunately we have been reminded of this fact by the Brexit debate, which I may soon stop calling a debate. A debate is a process by which the participants exchange ideas, however this discussion has been a Tory civil war played out in public with the rhetoric around the EU used to further people’s political ambitions. In recent days this has become intolerable for even a political junkie like me.
For a number of weeks the Brexit debate has become more and more toxic. At the beginning of the campaign everything was much more promising. There was talk of a civilised debate between people of different views, and facts about the EU being made readily available to all who wished to learn about the debate. However not only has this idealistic reality not come to pass, the tone of the debate has plunged directly into the gutter.
The first thing I want to talk about is the grand battle of personalities that has culminated in this debate. Anyone who argues that the current EU debate has not been an expensive way of determining the next Tory leader is, in my view, colossally wrong. Before the campaign began there was much discussion about David Cameron’s successor and with one of the main contenders (Boris Johnson) on the Leave side and one of the other ‘big beasts’ (George Osborne) on the Remain side, the referendum has been dominated by leadership ambitions.
However it has not been concerned with the leadership. Today Iain Duncan Smith, who is a supporter of Brexit, claimed that Business Secretary Sajid Javid is also a supporter of the Leave campaign. The ‘controversy’ is that Javid is publicly arguing for Britain to remain in the EU, and Smith is essentially saying that Javid is backing the side of the Prime Minister in order to secure his future in the Cabinet. Obviously this is just an accusation but it does seem plausible that senior Tory MPs are campaign for a certain side in order to further their own careers, and that is a depressing development.
The other thing I wanted to address was the tone and nature of the discourse. In the last few weeks both sides have ramped up the fearmongering and ludicrous comparisons in order to get an emotional, rather than rational response from people. Without a hint of exaggeration on my part, within a few days of each other both sides were invoking unbelievable imagery in order to bully people into voting a specific way.
On 9th May David Cameron said that leaving the EU could lead to World War Three, but, not to be outdone, on 15th May Boris Johnson likened the European Union to Adolf Hitler. As a general rule of political discourse in a modern democracy, can we please stop bringing up these topics. I’m sick and tired of politicians eliciting responses from people because of what Hitler would like, or the nature of the impending apocalypse. It is intellectually lazy and needs to be stamped out. I was going to say that bringing up World War Three would automatically lose you the debate, but invoking Hitler also does that in my book so we’re back to square one.
The debate around Britain’s position in the EU should not be this negative and ridiculous and to be honest I’m done giving a shit. There is just less than one month to go until the referendum takes place, and I hope people go out and vote because it is such an important decision. After extensive research I know which way I’ll be voting, and I have made those views abundantly clear, but unless something cataclysmic happens I will not give the tiniest of fucks about this debate from here on out. The whole discourse has become toxic and frustrating, and I am a political junkie. If I didn’t really care about politics I wouldn’t want to learn about it in future because of the nature of this discussion.
The 24th June will be an interesting day as the dust will have begun to settle and the drama around who will be PM will be ratcheted up and watching a divided Tory party pretending that they don’t hate each other will be hilarious. Having said that I am also looking forward to that day so we can put the debate aside and talk about the other horrible things that the Tories want to do. The 24th June cannot come fast enough.