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Saturday, 25 June 2016

After the Referendum

In all the aftermath of the EU referendum, amid all the name-calling, blame and more sensible calls for unity, something has concerned me, which I don’t think has been mentioned. On several programmes, attention was frequently drawn to the fact that the South East and especially London would vote to remain because the people there are better-educated! I am aghast at this for two reasons. Firstly, it implies that northerners are somehow uneducated; and secondly because it suggests that all educated people would vote remain. I am also aghast at the truly unpleasant insults that have been hurled at those who voted to leave, primarily insisting that they are either racists or ignorant. There is no point in going over the old arguments about why leaving was – in my view – a good thing, but it appears that this issue has raised more political passion in this country that I have ever witnessed in my lifetime and has also highlighted many deep divisions within the country. For years the main political parties have been so similar to one another that there has been little to choose between them. Perhaps this is the wake up call that the country needed to discuss all the issues which concern us, in a more balanced way. To me, the fundamental problem lies in the fact that many politicians do not view themselves as representatives of the people, or as public servants, but rather as rulers who have greater intelligence than the rest of us; and also in the fact that we have to accept that within any country there will be conflicting views. In my experience, the smaller the institution, the more successful it is because the people within it feel ‘known’ and feel that their views count. Smaller schools, for example, have been shown to work better than huge schools with thousands of pupils. In the same way, a smaller state works better than a huge one. This does not mean that smaller businesses, industries, schools, countries etc. etc. cannot work amicably together, rather that individuals need to feel that they have been heard. At the end of the day, we had a referendum in which we were all entitled to vote. An outcome was reached and the only way forward is to put behind us the unpleasantness and start building upon what we have, creating and maintaining good relations with other nations, and respecting that, however small the majority vote was, it was a majority. May I suggest, too, that there is a rethink on the ‘uneducated masses’ of the north...the places which produced William Wilberforce, Judi Dench, the Brontes, J.B. Priestly, Delius, John Atkinson Grimshaw, L.S. Lowry, Henry Moore, Andrew Marvell, James Brindley, Charles Halle etc. etc. Now I must don my flat cap and feed my whippet before setting off down ’t pit..eh-up! 

By the way...my latest book "Queen Victoria's Cousins" is available now in Kindle and paperback versions: