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The United Kingdom woke up on, or remained awake until, the morning of 24 June 2016 to find the vote had gone in favour of Brexit. Some say this is the end of Project Fear; whatever that was because I never heard the project manager interviewed! The BBC announced it as a “decisive vote”, even though only 3.8% separated Leave and Remain. Perhaps they were swayed by the majority in numerical terms being 1.2 million! Yes it is a big number, yet so was the 33.5 million who turned out to vote.
A decisive switch has been flicked from In to Out on the UK governance dashboard. As a consequence, a torrent of indecision as to when this ‘switching effect’ will come into force is bubbling out onto our radios and TV. It is as if the UK [and the EU] is at the award ceremony of the Eurovision Time Warp competition. You can hear the announcer:
“And the winner of the competition is Leave!” [cue applause, booing etc; to be equal and democratic.] and then they go on to announce:
“… and the date that this switch will fully throw over to Leave is ……..” [cue silence of bated breathe, and howls of derision – we want it now!].
So in true theatrical tradition, the UK will need to change its costume for its next appearance on the Euro stage. This is where the advocates for quick change are beginning to realise that this costume change has many intricate loops, bows, buttons and fabrics to navigate. The added complication is that the UK has been wearing its Remain costume for so long, relative to the age of voters, that it can’t be sure what Wardrobe supplied it with in the first place. And in any case with the residue of policy ‘dribbles’ spattered down its front, the Remain costume is probably unrecognisable from when it was first new.
This creates an even deeper challenge. Even when the UK has got its Leave costume on, who will recognise the change? Will the UK voters be able to recognise the costume change from Remain to Leave? Will the new Leave costume look a lot like the existing Remain costume – potentially leading to more cries of derision? Even if the Leave costume is bright and perfect, will we the voters know this to be the case?
So much uncertainty created by one act of certainty! With uncertainty comes fear. It’s almost as if Project Fear had a costume and is determined to keep it on! If we persistently live with Fear as our guiding influence, then In or Out of the EU won’t make a difference. Businesses, projects, economies and societies will still fail. It’s to be hoped this isn’t what faces the UK in another 40 years.
The most useful thing the UK can do now, for itself, the EU and the world, is to commence Project Cheer! Cheer not Fear has a good ring to it. J.R.R. Tolkien said:
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
So I went to find a song that could engage the cheer in us, and help us to be more merry about our place in the world. From the last 25 years of Eurovision song winners, none had the word ‘cheer’ in the title. Looking further afield I found: “Grateful – a love song to the world”
So let’s give Cheer to the world. When we’re Grateful for where we are, we notice so much more, we become so much more. There is no In or Out when you have a butterfly on your finger [it’s in the video!]. You become grateful that you are available to each other. The butterfly loves the heat from your finger. What you will love I don’t know; write it down, so you can share it as “my butterfly moment”. I’d be very very surprised if you felt hate, anger or sadness! If you do, well share that too, it might help you.
So next time you get an email pouring its heart out to you at how angry and sad things are, send them a link to this blog in reply. Ask them to watch the Grateful video. Ask them to share with you how much they felt we could achieve together in this world if we were appreciative and grateful for each other’s company!
The antidote to fear is cheer.
15 June 2016 and the early morning radio squawked:
“the two sides in the EU referendum debate…”.
Even through my raging earache, which got me up early to listen to this broadcast, I knew there was something wrong here.
I like listening to the BBC. It covers a lot of ground without a deluge of adverts. Maybe they’d got confused with the Euro 2016 football tournament!
Ah! Got it! They’d made the EU referendum sound like a football match – a game with two sides. But, this isn’t a football match! When the ‘game’ is over and the Leave or Remain side have won, the two teams aren’t going back for a bout of changing room analysis.
These two teams are made up of you and me. Unless we tell anyone, we won’t know if our UK ‘team’ mates were on the Leave or Remain side. No special shirts or labels. Just a cross in a box. A cross which shuffles us down to one end of the media football pitch.
After the vote is completed 23rd June, we will go back to work and live as we did before. All mixed up together. No visible sign that the UK has Left or Remained with the EU. So this is nothing like a football match. The ‘winners’ won’t go on to play another match in the league table. We will all simply be in a new arrangement with the EU. We will also be in a new arrangement with the rest of the 185 other countries in the world.
24th June 2016 and the UK, will be a different jigsaw piece in the big picture of the world. This is what we needed to know many weeks or months ago. All we UK voters needed to know was what the two worldviews could look like. Worldview One where the UK remains a fit in the EU and world jigsaw. Worldview Two where the UK doesn’t fit in the EU jigsaw and is a new shaped piece in the world jigsaw.
The UK voters have not been given any pictures of these two new worlds. Before UK voters can make a reasoned, robust voting decision, they need to see what both worlds could be like. More tennis match with the UK as the ball, first going into one half of the court, then the other. Our heads switching from side to side, as we weigh up the UK’s chances in each half of the court. One half the UK having a place inside EU and world; the other half the UK having a place inside the world only.
This match needs to be about two views of the future. A match of two sides (as in football) only gives you a ‘winner’, without any view of the future that they have ‘won’.
With 7 days left to voting day, the organisers of this referendum would do well to paint a picture of the two futures. Some big hitters will say they are. Yet the messages are largely about the failures that will be visited on the UK people if they vote Leave or Remain. Focusing on failure alone is not the whole picture. We UK voters need to be shown a picture of the whole future life; successes AND failures. How things could work!
Joseph Stiglitz in his 2015 book “The Great Divide” said of the 2008 Financial Crash:
“Free market economists seldom looked at the success of the managed-market economies of East Asia. They preferred to talk about the failures of the Soviet Union ..” (page 12).
It seems like nothing has changed. We get more commentary on failures than successes. Nobody seems to know why! Stiglitz is clear a focus on failure in preference to success isn’t good for us.
It would be better for referendum organisers to supply commentary of what will work well in both futures. The UK voters will work out for themselves what will likely fail or not work.
The referendum organisers have so far missed an opportunity to make this vote a pleasant tennis match. Without being given insight to the two “what works futures”, we are left with an ill-tempered commentary. A commentary which UK voters call scaremongering – and doesn’t give guidance on how to make a decision.
Our younger generation need a better Prospectus Brochure to the future. They want vision, clarity, oneness of purpose. They have no need for a list of points won or lost. When they are the older generation, their younger generation will likely say the same thing: “no more scrapping – tell me how the future looks!”
3rd June 2016 as I reflect on Michael Gove intervention for Leave, and the spoof proposal with blank pages from the Remain campaign following HM Treasury 200 pager, I conclude that space left empty by both protagonists. This blog seeks to explore that open untouched space which the UK Referendum on EU membership has thrown into the mix.
“The British Electorate risk having no material on which to make a decision in the coming Referendum on EU membership 23 June 2016. The level of information provision and commentary by media, politicians et al is focused on the primitive emotion induced by uncertainty. If Yes, the No’es highlight concerns, and then the Yes’es respond to say why the No’es have missed the point. Confusingly there is a parallel dialogue initiated by the No’es, to which Yes’es highlight concerns and No’es rebuff. This double dialogue seeks to keep both the Yes and No campaigns high on their hills, as the rhetoric escalates and real information transmission declines.
Unlike in a traditional war between two armies, neither the Yes nor the No campaign will secure complete victory. Whatever the result on 23 June 2016, the counter-arguments will still exist. If Yes, and UK stays in EU, those concerned by that (previously of the ‘No’ campaign) will keep resisting the situation they find themselves in. The EU and UK won’t get better because of a lack of focus on making membership work. If No, and the UK leaves the EU, those concerned by that (previously of the ‘Yes’ campaign), will forever feel uncomfortable at not being part of the EU. The UK will fail to get better because of too much focus on managing perceived losses from being outside EU.
What’s missing from all the dialogue and information throwing, is anything about the biggest project which groups of humans could focus on. “How do we collectively get on with each other?” We’re very good at discovering how we don’t, can’t or won’t get on with each other. The European project grew from 5 countries to now 28 countries, learning how to get on with each other. There are 186 countries in the world. So really the Europe project, which is only 40 years old, is a start on the bigger project of all countries in the world learning to get on with each other. This is the project that needs to be put foremost in our minds, for our generation and our children’s generation, and so on into the future. When we have built and communicated THAT project across the world, for all people’s to engage with, THEN we can look at what keeps us apart; money and differences.
So it’s worth thinking about what your vote [if you’re in the UK] will do for the bigger global project of collaboration. If you’re not a UK voter, then maybe you wish the vote to go a certain way; and still ask yourself why you believe that. If you’re interested in the outcome of the greatest human project, one which reaches far beyond Europe and into every corner of the world, then your thoughts and actions are important. How important do you think it is that we are working together as a common species for the good of all, curious to learn how differences and money can bring us together in resonant abundant harmony?