"This referendum matters more for the shifting contours of British politics than it does for our relationship with the EU"by David Goodhart / June 23, 2016 / Leave a comment
I remain stuck on the fence staring at my polling card knowing that a decision has to be taken in the next few hours. Can I abstain? No, that is cowardly. Can I vote one way and hope that a small majority of my fellow citizens vote the other way? That would be weird and self-regarding, voting not for a narrowly preferred outcome but in order to tell people afterwards that I had voted a particular way because it felt better (and that I am not therefore responsible for the mess we are in!).
I am a moderate Eurosceptic, a moderate social democrat, a moderate social conservative. None of that is much use in telling me how to vote. I keep trying to trick myself by imagining turning on the radio tomorrow morning and checking to see how I react to either result. No dice, I can imagine hearing the news tomorrow morning and feeling equally dismayed and elated at either result.
I have no complaints about the campaigns (actually one quite big one, see below), they have been raucous and full of exaggeration and half-truth. As they should be. It has been the most class-based vote of my lifetime, with the normal alliances breaking down (at least in England) and conjuring something of a “peasants’ revolt” feel. Seldom has the GK Chesterton poem been more relevant (though I cannot recall seeing it quoted anywhere): “Smile at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quite forget; For we are the people of England that never have spoken yet.” Quite a few of them have been speaking in the past few weeks and many of the people who speak rather a lot do not like it at all—hence all the tutting about the vulgarity of the campaign.
But I must avoid the contrarian temptation. Most of my friends are “Remainers” and I live in Hampstead surrounded by writers, pop stars and rich foreigners. Perhaps I could put on my England football shirt for the walk to my polling station in lovely Keats Grove and vote “Remain,” thus satisfying the impulse to ruffle the local…