A number of our group spend considerable time on the streets of Bath, leafleting commuters and passers-by or speaking to people at our street stall. More often than not, our experiences are positive. We’ve had people thank us, even hug us, and have thought-provoking, enlightening conversations with us. Only a minority of encounters turn nasty. Such a run-in prompted a campaigner amongst us to pen this.
Dear Mr Angry-Brexiter-in-the-Street
Please don’t call me “love”. It’s intensely patronising and, actually, I’d rather not accept any terms of endearment from you.
To you I may look like a dumpy, delusional middle-aged woman wearing a daft beret who needs the benefit of your manly wisdom. But believe me, your superior stature and possession of a penis do not automatically bestow you with an intellectual advantage.
While you’re at it, it would make things much more pleasant for me if you didn’t invade my personal space (you already have a height advantage, remember?), point your finger directly me and yell at me so loudly I get a sense of your spittle.
Now, we’ve got the ground rules of communication established, can I also remind you that I am not a traitor and I’m also not anti-democratic. I feel both British and European in equal measure and I love my country – or at least I used to love it when I felt it was a tolerant and open multicultural society before your lot got your mitts on it. And personally, I think the traitors are the ones who are prepared to see the country be pushed off the economic and political cliff based on a few nebulous concepts of “taking back control”.
As for the idea of democracy, I’d love to talk in depth with you about the manifold reasons to dispute the result of the referendum – the concept of a supermajority for major constitutional change; the gerrymandered electorate; the effects of the lies promulgated in the campaign (yes, where is that £350m a week then?); the fact the people weren’t truly aware whether they were voting for hard Brexit, soft Brexit, and what those would actually mean for the economy. I would love to talk about all of that, but in the meantime, you’re just yelling “you lost love, just get over it”.
Having failed to listen to me on these points, you usually move on to: “anyway, name me one reason why we should be in the EU. They just…” (and here you insert your latest, probably made-up, grievance gleaned from the Daily Mail). Once again, I open my mouth to explain about the 70 years of European peace, the benefits of being in the world’s largest trading bloc, the need for free movement of labour to optimise resources, for starters. I did actually study some of this stuff at that University up on the hill there, albeit 30 years ago when I wasn’t middle-aged and dumpy.
But I can see I’m not getting through. You would rather trade in all of that for your perceived right to bendy bananas and energy-inefficient light bulbs. We only have a short encounter on the street, and I realise I can’t convey the benefits of EU membership in the soundbites you like.
Anyway, you’re getting really angry now, because actually you don’t have any coherent arguments, the negotiations are going badly, Theresa May’s looking doomed, and you’re worried your beloved Brexit is slipping away. I’m getting pretty miffed too, because you’re not talking sense and won’t listen to sense.
I would love to find some middle ground. Luckily not all Brexit voters are like you and maybe we will reach a consensus.
In the meantime, just don’t call me “love”.
Female Pro-EU Campaigner-in-the-Street