On voting

When the UK PM called a general election recently, I spotted this line on Facebook:

Please god let the “great” British public stay in bed and let the rest of us make a sensible decision.

…which, you know, is a bit demeaning to a lot of people who might not happen to share the same point of view as you do.

The individual in question voted Labour in the last election (they lost) and voted to remain in the EU in the recent referendum (that side also lost). Since then, that person’s timeline has been a cascade of anti-Conservative (they won) and anti-Brexit (also a winner) stories and articles.

And that’s fine. Each to their own.

Really, my only problem comes when “Remainers” protest about the steps that the Government have taken towards the UK leaving the EU. Yes, the referendum was a close run thing, and there are probably lessons that we could learn from that when running future referendums, but it still finished 52-48. That means that a majority of people voted to leave the EU, and thus, the Government should be taking steps to do so. That’s what referendums are for. That’s how they work.

Look, I’m sorry for you that there weren’t enough people sharing your point of view to swing the vote in the way that you wanted. Democracy can be a real bummer when more people vote the other way.

But then imagine, if you will, that the Remain vote had won 52-48 (or whatever). If more people had voted to keep the UK in the EU. Imagine then that the UK Government had ignored that majority and gone ahead with Brexit anyway.

Pandemonium! And rightly so!

Having asked the question and got the answer, how could the powers that be drive their fat political steam roller over the wishes of the British people?

And yet that’s exactly what you’re demanding must happen, simply because the result didn’t go your way. Simply because “the ‘great’ British public” chose to wake up that day and spoke their mind.

No. It’s entirely reasonable that the Government do what the majority of the public demand. Whether you like the decision or the Government or not.

But I find this idea that your side holds some sort of intellectual or moral high ground over the other simply because the viewpoints don’t agree is rather pompous and actually counterproductive. Some people argue that it’s one factor as to why Trump won the US election.

But to be honest, for me, it’s less about the collective effect of these sorts of protest (which has been negligible anyway) and more about me finding out a bit more about people I know on Facebook. And that’s no bad thing either.

Yes, let’s change the rules this time…

…just for the sake of it.

Incoming all over your Facebook (if you have UK contacts on there, at least) – this:

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And that’s because there’s been a change in the leadership of the governing party, and the leader of the governing party also holds the post of Prime Minister, thus there has been/will be, any time real soon just now, a change in Prime Minister.

People whose favoured party isn’t the governing party aren’t very happy about this because… well, because they’re just not very happy. Much like they weren’t happy about the result of the EU referendum vote, which didn’t go the way they wanted it to, or the result of last year’s general election, which they lost, they’re wanting to move the goalposts.

The online petition is simply a 21st Century version of the lynch mob. [link]

Simply, they’re calling for the rules to be changed because the current outcome doesn’t suit them.

And is there precedent for this sort of thing?
Well yes, there is. After all, Gordon Brown (2007), John Major (1990), James Callaghan (1976), Alec Douglas-Home (1963), Harold MacMillan (1957), Anthony Eden (1955), Winston Churchill (1940), Neville Chamberlain (1937), Stanley Baldwin (1923), David Lloyd George (1916), Herbert Asquith (1908), Henry Campbell-Bannerman (1905) and Arthur Balfour (1902) were all appointed without a general election.

But those 13 names count for nothing now, because (possibly without the exception of Gordon Brown), there were no online petitions when they took the job. And there was no issue with Gordon Brown getting the job because firstly, the people who opposed him weren’t the sort to whine about everything just because it doesn’t fit their agenda, and secondly, it was just nice to get rid of Tony Blair.

And when Gordon Brown followed the example of Balfour, Asquith et al. and said that he wasn’t calling a general election, he made Labour’s bed. They were quite happy to lie in it back then, shame the mattress seems to have got a bit lumpy all of a sudden now, hey?

Please understand that I’m not saying that nothing must ever change. That’s not a very flexible, constructive or progressive way of handling things. But there has to be a better reason for changing things than “I just don’t like it”.

That said, I’m looking forward to taking exactly that approach with football games in the upcoming season. Each time Sheffield United lose (it’s ok, I’m old enough now to realise that it will happen), I’ll start an online petition to get the rules on winning changed. I sense promotion in our near future; that is until one of the other teams complains about the promotion rules and launches an online petition.

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But we’re supposed to be grown up now. We’re supposed to understand that not everything will go the way we want it to, and that we need to be able to deal with difficulties that life throws at us.
We can’t keep whinging and whining like spoilt tween brats, just because we don’t always get our own way.

Or can you?