Heads or Tails? Who are your friends now? #EURef

I have not posted a lot on the EU. Indeed, the next day I posted that I would not say a lot on the analysis of the consequences as so many others will be doing that. I also made a comment on the only qualifications to be a voter being that you could spell "X" (something that others pointed out is not actually a requirement!).

I did not actually say which way I voted, and whist it may be obvious to some, I don't plan to.

However, I am really quite concerned at how divisive this whole issue has been, not just in terms of the country but families and friends. It is quite scary really.

Before the vote I was involved in a few discussions with friends. I think it is fair to say that we agreed that there was no real way to know the best way to go, and that probably we will never know which was best in hindsight (in the long term). There are interesting arguments based on the lack of knowledge, like "if we don't know what will happen or which way to vote, you vote for status quo, as what know what that is like now, and it is tolerable even if not ideal, and maybe can be fixed". There are arguments like "If we were not in and we voted you join, would we go in?" Possibly not. Sadly neither of these are actually helpful in making an informed decision, and all of the information we can see is speculative propaganda, and to be frank, in some cases, outright lies on both sides, or so it seemed to me.

Basically, my point is that democracy is clearly not going to work in this case. Don't get me wrong, democracy is pretty much the best we have and overall it works well. It is fundamentally a means to mitigate civil war, something from which almost any other system of government can suffer all too easily. But in some cases, and I could say this whichever way the vote went, democracy is not rational, simply because almost everyone voting did not actually have the experience or qualifications in politics or economics to know the way to vote. The fact that the vote was so close bears that out to some extent. Sadly a system of "rational government", which avoids the risk of civil war, does not really exist, as far as I know.

The one thing I am absolutely not saying is that people are idiots, or that the people that voted one way or the other are idiots. I am not even saying people are racist as I do not expect that people are generally (though a few in the news clearly are). What I am saying to some extent is that we are all not quite idiots, but, uneducated and uninformed, on this specific topic. To be honest I am not sure anyone is an expert in this as nobody else has done it before. This means we all voted on gut instinct or propaganda influence.

What this has led to is some serious talks with a good friend of mine that voted a different way to me, and I really think he is sensible and rational, enough not to let this ruin our friendship. It is however, a lot closer to being an actual issue than I expected. Some long text and talk conversations.

In partly this is down to me - I am not that good at working out when people will be upset by something or not. I am sorry about that. I have perhaps a less conventional sense of humour and so I have liked or retweeted some things I found amusing without thinking whether someone else seeing that would be offended by "my views" inferred by association with the article I liked/retweeted.

When I have strong views, I'll let you know! Right now I have some views on the way things are going, and concerns about them, but I don't have any thoughts that any of my friends, or colleagues or customers have been idiots! That would be silly, and, well, "not logical, Captain". Even my views on where were are now are concerns, not anger, and are around the more technical aspects of "what will happen?" and "what can we do?" not "who's fault was this?". I always try to be pragmatic.

So please, let's all get over any personal attacks, tackle the issue at hand, and work on the way forward. Yes, right now, we have not left, and yes, that is not 100% certain yet, but seems very likely. Even if/when we leave, what that means is up in the air. Heck, we could leave EU, and re-negotiate identical terms with every EU state and so be status quo if they tried hard enough (not likely). What is likely is that if/when we leave a whole load of EU rules (like them or not) will move in to UK law and be just as hard to "fix". They may even be harder to fix than if they were EU regulations, as our own government do seem to be fighting their own people with laws like the IP Bill (something I do have strong views on). Maybe we should have a referendum on the IP Bill :-)

So, please, can we move on and not have a go at friends and relatives who voted the other way - it is almost as bad as getting cross because someone flipped a coin the other way and that is just daft. It is almost as daft as deciding your friends on who likes Marmite?!

P.S. I think I am really lucky - I can debate issues with my friends and resolve issues like this, which I think I have, but I know many people that could not do so and would have a life long rift in friend or family relationships over this. Now that is scary! It really is like if you had a referendum on Marmite: Like or Dislike.


  1. What did your petition say? It's down at the moment. Calling for a referendum on whether Marmite is god's own food or something that should be used to resurface roads?

  2. I have (or had) quite a close relationship with my parents. They voted a different way to me, and it is proving to be a problem on both sides. The trouble is it's not like a General Election where there will be another one along in five years and safe seats mean some peoples's votes (like mine) are irrelevent anyway. Every vote counted in this, and once we do whatever we do as a result there's no going back on it for at least a generation. Hence all the rancour that such a "once in a generation" decision is being made on a 52/48 split and with such lies on both sides of the campaigning. The margin is small enough that the weather on polling day, lack lustre campaigning by Labour and other factors could easily have swung it the other way. We're almost measuring noise with this result.

    And by the time we really know if it was a good idea or not (10 to 20 years) the population will have aged and died off enough to have given the opposite result.

    1. There's no certainty that today's 20 year olds will be voting the same way in 20 years' time - nobody knows what the EU will look like then anyway. Rather than concentrating on age, people might divide the electorate into "those who've seen the whole process from the 1970s" and "those who can barely remember the referendums which lead to the Lisbon treaty."

      It's clear that the more time you've been exposed to the EU (and its precursor), the more likely you were to vote against it. That might be coincidence, or it might not.

      The screaming undergraduate-types might at least pause to wonder why the 'hire a teenager while they still know everything' comedy poster has been around for so long.

  3. I can't imagine how England and Wales will ever know if brexit was a good thing or not compared to the alternative. If things get noticeably worse in the short term, then maybe people would say that it's the long term situation that counts. (I said 'England' because Scotland seems to have been fairly firmly 'remain', in that all the collecting regions in Scotland apparently voted that way.)

  4. I have this suspicion that some will drag things out to ensure that no exit agreement is reached within the two years…

  5. And the last thing this country needs is Theresa May as PM,The only good that will come out of such a thing would be tories not being re elected at the next GE

  6. It has been quite revealing in a way. Earlier this week I met a former colleague for a drink. We'd voted opposite ways, but had a perfectly reasonable conversation about what we thought would happen next - Corbyn, trade tariffs and rules, the Greek economy etc.

    At the other end of the spectrum, another former colleague very rudely asserted that he (coming from part of the former Yugoslavia) knew better than any Brit, so my opinion was invalid and I was (insert xenophobic abuse here) for daring to doubt that Brexit would lead to WW3. (That was his response to me pointing out that crediting the EU with something from 1946 was slightly flawed.)

    Talking of finding things out, I've just put in for a regrade from the old 21cn Home::1 FTTC to the 1T version - nice to see that's available. Any updates on the "renumber with number export" trial yet?

    1. jas88 I was the first person through the renumber with number export trial, on a BT/AA VDSL line. No serious problem at all - we lost incoming caller ID for the second two weeks of the 4 week process, but I think that may have been fixed now. The VDSL never dropped in the whole process.


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