Firstly I should say that I’m a Brexiteer and I’m glad the UK voted to leave the EU.
Over the last year I have read many articles discussing the how’s and why’s of the Brexit vote but I have not read any which specifically mention an issue which I think is the single biggest contributing factor. That factor is the wholesale media and establishment suppression of free speech around the topic of immigration.
To highlight my point I need to discuss two questions. I’ll discuss them one after the other.
The first question is, how did the pollsters get it so wrong?……. The answer is simple and has been previously identified: The Shy Voter!
The most widely accepted, and I believe correct, reason is the ‘shy voter’. This concept came out in part from the Brexit post-election analysis and most predominantly in the US post-election analysis. The idea being that the rhetoric surrounding one particular point of view is so vile and insulting that supporters of said view are too scared to voice their support even to an automated polling system.
But the ‘shy voter’ concept is just the tip of the iceberg here and I think it is inappropriately worded. I prefer to use ‘silenced voter’ as this is more representative.
Take immigration in the UK for example. For the last 10 to 15 years in the UK it has been almost illegal to discuss any of the genuine negative effects of mass immigration. If you even said the word ‘immigration’ you were likely to be publicly branded a racist, xenophobe and bigot despite your genuine concerns. In other words you were told to ‘Shut your mouth!’.
The second question then is, how did we win?
There is no question that one of the biggest concerns from Brexit voters was the negative effects, real or perceived, of mass immigration.
Perversely, I think the behaviour of silencing any discussion on the negative effects of mass immigration ultimately led to the Brexit win.
Shutting down any debate about the negative effects of mass immigration and free movement over the last 10 to 15 years paralysed our normal democratic process.
Had people been allowed to genuinely voice their concerns over the years, and had those concerns been taken seriously as would be expected in a functioning democracy, then more MP’s would have been aware of those concerns and the genuine negative effects of immigration could have been discussed sensibly and openly in parliament.
There are rules within the EU relating to free movement which could have been applied a long time ago and would have helped to mitigate many of the concerns that the general population had but it was never really debated properly in parliament until it was too late.
I believe many MP’s might even have ‘felt’ the growing concerns among the population but may have been too scared to raise them for fear of being labelled a ‘racist and bigot’.
Also, had people felt safe enough to voice their opinion during the referendum the polls would have been more accurate. I’m sure if the polls before the vote had all suggested that ‘leave’ was looking likely to win then many more ‘remain’ supporters would have voted.
So what do I take from all this?
While it worked in my favour this time I think it is very important that we try to openly discuss what happened, it is more serious than we might think.
The UK has been one of the leaders in the world when it comes to free speech but recently we failed as a nation by allowing free speech to be suppressed and, for better or for worse, we have realised the direct result.