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Friday, 24 June 2016

The Aftermath

So it has happened.

David Cameron's attempts to appease some of his own party and growing elements of the right-wing has resulted in a shock victory for leave, and over the next two years the UK (what will be left of it) will leave the EU.

Nicola Sturgeon (First minister of Scotland) has called for a Second Independence Referendum. Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland have called for a poll on a united Ireland. Both countries overwhelmingly voted Remain, and yet face being unwillingly dragged out of the EU unless they remove themselves from the UK. Scotland is likely to leave the UK, Northern Ireland, less likely.

Most surprisingly, Wales, an overall net beneficiary from the EU, has voted overwhelmingly to reject their ties with Brussels.

There have been a lot of surprises over the last 24 hours.

Even general racist idiot Donald Trump has got in on the action, saying he was pleased for the UK. If that's not death's kiss, what is?

In a survey conducted by YouGov at 10PM on the eve of the results, 75% of 18-24 year olds stated they were going to vote Remain. Compare that to 61% of 65+ year olds, who wanted to leave the EU. There is an age divide. A clear age divide. One that more and more young people are becoming aware of.

Now I'm not going to give you my personal arguments for Remain, I've done that, and I'm blue in the face and bored of doing it. I'm not going to plead the millennial argument; "BABY BOOMERS HAVE SHAFTED US AND NOW THEY'VE VOTED EXIT IT'S ALL THEIR FAULT"- although a lot of my friends would agree with that sentiment.

- I am arguing that allowing 16 year olds the vote would have been the fairest thing to do in this referendum

Think logically about this for a second.

Let's look 20 years ahead.

Post-EU UK does brilliantly, we move from strength to strength as a united collection of countries as the UK, we negotiate good trade deals with major EU trading partners, the money we spend on the EU is put towards the NHS, and suddenly everything is wonderful. The far-right doesn't rise across Europe, spreading hate wherever they go. That sort of thing. I'm optimistic, clearly. Pensioners everywhere will be looking on from wherever we go when we die self-congratulatory, patting their backs over the wise decision they helped the country make on the 23rd of July 2016.

But just for a minute, say it doesn't. Say it does really badly. Worst-case scenario - Scotland and Northern Ireland leave, major EU trading partners won't touch us with a bargepole, the money we spend on the EU is found out to be much more minimal than we thought, the pound becomes hugely devalued, and the far-right do their thing in European countries and say, France and Austria leave the EU too.

Pensioners everywhere who voted on the 23rd of July 2016 won't be around to witness the full extent of a decision they helped push through.

The 18-24 year olds will be. The 56% of quoted 25-49 year olds who also wanted to Remain will be.

And those between 16-18 will be also. They'll bear the brunt of a decision that they had no part in.

The typical argument goes something along the lines of "16 year olds can join the army but not vote on the politicians who decide who they will fight against". That's a pretty solid argument. But there is very little political education among the under 18s, hell, among the under 25s.

Which brings me on to my second point. It's not a long one.

Why isn't there compulsory political education in secondary schools? Why do we view the democratic system that our kids will grow up to be a part of as so dangerous for them to learn about? It's such a short point because it's so blindingly obvious. We as a team at the British Youth Council are battling for it. Campaigns by CitizensUK are also fighting to make it a reality. Carwyn Jones promised in Wales (as it already is in Scotland) that young people would get the vote in his manifesto. But more needs to be done.

Unfortunately it's too late for 16-18 year olds. If the gamble of leaving the EU doesn't come off, they will be, like my age bracket, up the creek without a proverbial leg to stand on. Or something like that.

I'm joking because if I didn't I'd cry.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Terrorist attack in West Yorkshire

So I'm sitting here seething with rage as I read down the various reports of media linked to Jo Cox's tragic death several minutes ago. If you are unaware of the events of the past half an hour, the Labour MP for Batley and Spen. was shot and stabbed several times in a sustained attack by a white man shouting "Britain First" at an advice surgery she was holding.

Why am I so angry? Because I'm young, and young people often seem to get angry about things, right? Because I don't understand the way of the world just yet, I'm sure, and when I get a bit older, I'll accept things just the way they are, I'm sure.

I'm angry because a mother of two was killed in a terrorist attack.

If you're not aware about this either, a terrorist attack is

"the unofficial or unauthorised use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims". Thanks Google.

Now onto the thing that makes me even more angry. Nowhere in the media will you hear Jo Cox's death be described as the result of a terrorist attack.
Sure, it will be described as horrific, Sure it will be described as an affront to democracy. But I am certain the word terrorist will not be used in connection to the killer. It has not been mentioned in any of the headlines so far. Ten minutes after the horrific attacks in Orlando last week, there were connections made in the media to ISIS and Islam.

Now people say the connections there to Daesh are understandable; the man who committed the horrors in Orlando made a phonecall committing his life to Daesh's cause before passing in a hail of bullets. Therefore connecting Jo Cox's death to Britain First is surely equally understandable. The killer of Jo Cox committed his crime while shouting the name of the far-right group, didn't he?

See the fallacy of the logic?

Why have we reached the stage where people are shot for their sexuality? Why have we reached the stage where people are shot for their political stances? Why have we reached the stage where the media can manipulate our understanding of both of these atrocities, without us even realising it?

I told a friend what had happened to Jo Cox as "white man committed an act of terrorism, but a white man did it so it's not called terrorism". She replied with "same shit different day". And it is.

My sincerest condolences to the Jo Cox's husband and children. May they grow up in a more accepting and loving World than the one their mother left all too soon.

Yours raging.

Joe.