Why it’s wrong and why it will not happen. We’ve debated long and hard on this one and keep arriving at the same conclusion – a second vote is wrong on every level.
Democracy in the UK dictates that as a minimum there is a general election every five years, when the people vote to choose which party will govern the country for the coming term. Sure, there are coalitions, hung parliaments and leadership challenges; but that is the point at which the people vote and the government then debates and implements new laws – loosely based on the leading party’s manifesto.
Very rarely do the people get to have a vote on a single issue. Since 1973 there have been eleven referendums; mostly concerning devolution and significantly in 1975, whether to remain a member of the European Community and latterly of course, the peoples vote in 2016 to leave it.
In the intervening period successive governments have made major decisions leading to public protests and demonstrations: the poll tax riots, the Iraq War demonstrations, the bedroom tax, calls for a people’s vote. Never has a vote been given to the people. It could be argued that the Poll Tax and Bedroom Tax were reversed or at least amended, in the case of the latter, due to protest. It is difficult to argue that Brexit holds more importance than a declaration of war and this is the reason why a people’s vote should not happen.
The Poll Tax was introduced in 1990 and after the large scale public demonstrations and riots it was rescinded in 1992. That era coincides with the end of popular demonstration. Some of us can recall a time when demonstration was a mainstream activity: ban the bomb, save the whale and end apartheid to name but a few. Counter culture, coupled with an active youth element and University driven protest, was everywhere and a rite of passage for many. The CND logo is now a fashion symbol and social media is the arena for debate. The streets have all but been abandoned, save for the well supported LGBT causes and some far right or far left smaller ongoing protestations.
That’s why the people’s vote will not happen; times have changed. Universities are no longer a hotbed of discontent. Protests against the elders has dwindled to a desire for ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ on social media. If this were 1960, 1970, 1980 or 1990 then a second referendum might have been a real possibility but until or when we move to online voting then the days of people power are over.
That is in no way disparaging of the youth of today but perhaps more a criticism of those prominent ‘remainers’ who are not role models. Tony Blair or Gina Miller will not inspire people to take to the streets and the divisions within parliament and the failure to unite and respect the people’s vote has led to a polarising effect within society that we see ‘online’ today… but not on the streets.