The decades-long feeling of powerlessness that created the London riots is driving leave votes in the EU referendum
Jason tagged me in his Facebook video supporting ‘remain’ in the EU referendum yesterday, part of an attempt I think to ‘do an ice bucket challenge’, creating a chain reaction of people sharing this view.
With respect, I don’t think that me making a video about why I’m voting remain will do anything. Here’s why I think that.
Because it stands close to zero chance of escaping the filter bubble. Even if I did something shockingly original or funny that ‘went viral’ it would likely stillonly reach people like me who are already mostly in favour of remain.
And even if it any argument did escape the filter bubble, we’re making the wrong arguments, and we’re making them years too late to make the change that’s actually necessary.
People like me are incredibly frustrated. How can people vote leave, it’s illogical! Haven’t they read the economic arguments?! Haven’t they seen the retweets of Washington Post articles?! Haven’t they seen that hilarious AA GIll article patronising them?! All of which I think monumentally misses the point.
I think that lots people who are going to vote leave are are doing so because they have some version of a feeling of powerlessness, that’s been building for years and years. Unlike general elections, which have offered no real choice for decades, people sense a real chance to use their power here. To demand a real new direction. To get one over on the political establishment. Even if that means fucking things up a bit. It’s the same motivation that drove the riots in 2011. It looked self-destructive and self-defeating but, for one moment, it gave a feeling of power to people who are systematically excluded from feeling that.
No short term campaigning is going to overturn that feeling, it’s been decades in the making. No logical arguments are going to overturn a feeling. It’s too late to fix this with a poster. The leave campaign’s ‘Take back control’ ad on the front of today’s Metro doesn’t aim to convince anybody, but show empathy with a feeling that’s already there.
Of course the cynicism of Johnson, Gove, Farage and Murdoch using that feeling to manipulate people into giving up even more control over their lives is breathtaking, but that will all unfold later.
What will happen on Thursday will happen. A poster or a video won’t change that now. An MP was murdered last week, and that probably won’t change the result. So I’m certain that hearing from a another white middle class male, who’ll be alright whatever happens, who feels in control of his life — won’t do a thing to change that.
But whatever happens we must use this moment to start the building of a new system that doesn’t allow people to feel this disempowered ever again. Where can I vote for that?