Stephen Says...

Stephen Says...

This is my blog

sharing occasional thoughts about things that interest me

Post-Brexit Posturing

the state of the countryPosted by Stephen Mon, March 06, 2017 15:16:57
There have been repeated suggestions that the results of the referendum illustrate a polarised British social culture: divided according to personal preference either for or against UK membership of the EU. Misrepresentation of the evidence has been rife. The impression has been given, for example, that older people were overwhelmingly for Brexit whilst the young were overwhelmingly the other way, and hence that there is bitter division between young and old over this question. But actually the evidence shows a 3 to 2 split (for Brexit) amongst the elders and a 2 to 3 split (against Brexit) amongst the youngsters. So both opinions, for and against, were well represented amongst old and young alike. The similarity in degree of division within both groups (3 to 2 either way) makes them more alike in character than the opposite, despite the divergence in their balance of opinion. And the same argument applies to other allegedly opposed sub-groups of the franchise: Scotland was 3 to 2 for staying, Wales was 3 to 2 for getting out; the Metropolis was 3 to 2 for staying, the rest of England was 3 to 2 for getting out; the advantaged AB social group was 3 to 2 for staying, the disadvantaged C1C2DE was 3 to 2 for getting out; people with university degrees were 3 to 2 for staying, non-graduates were 3 to 2 for getting out. In all these cases the unifying similarity between the sub-groups is the division of opinion within them; they are not sub-groups divided from one another by uniformity of opinions within themselves. Promoting the notion of sectarian division between different social groups is delusional posturing, actively poisoning British cultural solidarity.

Of course if some groups are 3 to 2 in favour but the rest are 3 to 2 against, the chances are that overall the result will be 5-all! It’s because we couldn’t be sure which view was in the majority that we decided to conduct a head-count, using the relatively recent British tradition of the secret ballot (legislated for in 1872). Abiding by the result of this particular ballot is a test of our political system. And in fact it seems to me far more dangerous for society that there should be a significant preponderance (rather than a nearly 50-50 balance) because of the scope for a small minority to be subject to discrimination: picked on, bullied or victimised.

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