The wrong problem?

Source: ONS, FT analysis of Localis research. Graphic by John Burn-Murdoch / @ jbmurdoch. © FT

It was interesting to see on Peston on Sunday on 19th November the graph above which showed a clear correlation between voting Leave and economically deprived areas. The discussion then went on to suggest that people in these areas were voting Leave to improve their life. The status quo was not helping them so this was their chance to shake things up, hopefully for the better. In his Guardian opinion piece ‘Divided Britain, where the Brexit alarm is sounded but no one wants to hear’, Raphael Behr made a similar point.

Which got me thinking: do people actually want to leave the EU as a principle or do they just want a better life? Do people really care whether some of our legislation is under EU control or do they just want more control over their own lives?

Do people really not want immigrants, or do they just not want to suffer the stresses and inconveniences that result in immigration not being managed properly by the government, i.e. creating sufficient housing, school places and doctors’ surgeries.

By leaving the EU, is the government actually solving the wrong problem?

Let’s look at the Referendum result of 48% to 52%. To someone with even a modicum of emotional intelligence this would tell you the country is equally divided. Pursuing the agenda of one half without any regard to the other half is going to lead to resentment in the other half.

And can they be sure that the 52% are really behind them? If the government dug a little deeper into the result, they too would find these interesting correlations like the one I’ve described above. Surely this makes it clear that there might be more going on than just wanting to leave the EU.

We may be living in a digital age of ones and zeros, but people are still people, analogue and complex.

Is it that the government is just riding this wave of dissatisfaction in the 52% to pursue the ideology of an elite minority? And if they achieve this end, will it alleviate the dissatisfaction or it will make it worse, because they will have done nothing to solve the real problems? And if the people complain, will it be thrown back at us that it was what we wanted?

They could have taken the result of the Referendum for what it was legally, that is advisory. They could have acted responsibly and acknowledged the divide and taken some time to investigate the reasons behind this and develop real solutions. Instead they seem to be choosing to solve the wrong problem for their own gain.

Claire Thomas