Brexit and the responses to the EU Referendum result

On Thursday, the United Kingdom had one simple question to answer: Should the UK remain a member of the European Union? And by 7am on Friday, the decision was announced: The UK had decided to leave the EU, with 51.9% of the vote. On the road to this decision, both campaigns have been confusing and spreading misinformation, and both not without their faults. However, one side had more evidence from independent and reputable sources to say that the other would be a bad idea and spoiler alert: it is not the one that won.

I’m not here to talk about the ups and downs of the campaign trails though. Rather, the public’s response once the results had been announced on Friday morning.

As you would expect, many Remain voters were angry and upset to wake up to such a result, especially voters under 25, who may now feel like the last shreds of a prosperous future has been pulled from under their feet. After six years of a Conservative government which have proved time and time again they do not care for this generation (which I am a part of), whether its the abolition of EMA, the trebling of tuition fees, the cuts to housing benefits for people under 25, or the introduction of a higher “living” minimum wage which they have been excluded from, this generation that are finishing their education and are exploring the big wide world alone for the very first time have been the ones constantly suffering throughout this government.

In terms of the EU referendum, this  initially seems irrelevant – after all, MPs from both sides of the Commons fought on each side of the referendum. But when you consider the vast majority of people under-25 voted to remain, my generation’s anger and resentment is understandable. Depending on your source, 64%-75% of young people voted to remain, whereas 56%-60% of those over 60 chose to leave. Many feel like their parents and grandparents – who are frankly not going to live long enough to feel the effects of their vote – have chosen a bleak future for them that they did not want. They are angry and they want everyone to know it.

 

However, much like anything any millennial does ever,  this was not without criticism. Many have opposed this outcry, calling it whinging and undemocratic. Many more, including a lot of millennials, have taken to the likes of Facebook to denounce the unhappiness of their peers (if I have to see anything along the lines of “everyone thinks they’re a politician around voting time” again I will scream), as if referendums and elections don’t greatly affect people’s lives. Many declare this backlash as aggressive and undemocratic, as if the campaign to Leave was a bus of honesty  it wasn’t) and as if a woman wasn’t literally killed in the name of British Nationalism during the campaign.

To me, what seems wholly undemocratic is a campaign tarnished on both sides by falsifications and the spreading of misinformation; that an entire generation’s opinion being mocked and ignored because of their alleged immaturity, as if that very generation hadn’t been researching both sides and trying to find whatever legitimate information they can; potentially getting a new Prime Minister and entirely new government that we may not get the chance to vote for; some parts of the UK such as Northern Ireland, Scotland and Gibraltar facing crisis as they too are dragged into leaving the EU against their will, for better or worse; older generations claiming they are voting out “for their children and grandchildren” when those very kids and grandkids are telling you that is the exact opposite of what they want or need; people being silenced because the vote is over and everyone should just “get over” this massive issue.

52% is a very slim margin to win by, especially with a turnout of around 70% – meaning the mandate to leave is around 36% of eligible voters. After last year’s General Election there was a lot of upset as our current Conservative government received a similar percentage. Much of the same people who were upset about that twelve months ago are the same people who listened to Michael Gove’s call to ignore the experts, who believed a Leave campaign funded and fought by many in favour of NHS privatisation would spend that imaginary £350 million a week on the NHS, who claim any rebuttal favouring a stay in the EU is a lie, even when its backed up – even when the value of our currency dropped overnight and our economy went from 5th to 6th largest in the world! But even as the Pandora’s Box of Brexit has opened, none of this has been questioned at all.

The beauty of living in a democratic society is that we are free to air our opinions and concerns, and are free to do so whatever the current political climate, without our government censoring us. While you may not personally agree with public political rants, to write them off as aggressive and unreasonable is just disingenuous. Many are even more scared of what their future holds than they were on Wednesday, and as the damage of Vote Leave’s deceitful and often factually-incorrect campaign becomes clearer, its not hard to see why. A 52% majority is barely a confident and decisive result, and a 48% minority is only just that, with a large enough voice to (hopefully) bring about some sort of positive social change, even as we leave the EU.

What this referendum has done has shown the many ways our country has fractured, and has allowed the politics of hate, fear and distrust to win. My only hope is we can rise above it, but I am not optimistic.

Reflections on University

Jeeeez. It’s been a while. The whole of May and now half of June has passed, and while I started a whole bunch of stuff here, it never really got finished. University took over my whole life for most of May, and then I was at home for the bank holiday weekend, and then I started a new summer job this month too. So now I’ve gone from university, an internship, a part-time waitressing job and very little free time to a part-time summer office job, a part-time waitressing job at a restaurant which is currently understaffed and only slightly more free time. But still not much. And most of that free time I’ve had has been spent either playing The Sims or watching Jane the Virgin. Writing has been kind of difficult – but I think I’m over the worst of it, now I’ve not had to write anything.

In between both jobs and The Sims and Jane, I’ve been thinking about my time at university – in particular, was it worth it? Did I make the right choice? How has it impacted my life? What’s changed in the last three years? When I first started thinking about it,  my knee-jerk reaction was a resounding “no.” Honestly? I don’t feel much smarter than I did at eighteen. I’m in a lot more debt, I’ve no real guarantee of a permanent job, I don’t feel any more skilled in my field than I did before and I didn’t feel I’d made all the meaningful bonds people talk about when they talk about their university experiences. Sure, I had friends, but films and television portray unversity as the time where you make so many friends who stay with you for life and, particularly in my second year, I didn’t feel like my experiences matched up to that.

I won’t lie, I was stuck in this mindset for a good few days after finishing the year. It wasn’t until after I’d been home and talked to my mother about finishing university that my mindset changed. My mum had mentioned to me that I’d never have got to spend four months in New York without going to university, which got me thinking: what else have I done that I couldn’t/wouldn’t have done without university?

Obviously, NYC is the one that stands out. But I made so many good friends on that trip, on both sides of the Atlantic, that will (hopefully) be friends for life. I first met my boyfriend when I was out there. I would have never been on a flight alone, much less a long-haul flight. I wouldn’t have had that experience of living in a different country, and everything else that comes with it, and I am grateful to my university for allowing me that experience.

Similarly, university allowed me to get out of my small, seaside hometown and live in the big city by myself. Being able to experience London and all of its offerings as a resident rather than a tourist has been life-changing, and I am forever grateful for that too. Its not common that a single person gets to live in both London and New York before they’re 21, and I’m lucky to be such a person. Big city living aside though, even mundane things like paying rent and bills was a new experience that I wouldn’t have got if I’d stayed living with my parents.

University and distance allowed me to see fully what a piece of shit my emotionally abusive and manipulative ex-boyfriend is. While ultimately I wasn’t the one to cut off contact in the end (something I’m still somewhat salty about), at the point in which all ties were cut, I was looking for any reason. In the aftermath of that, university and the indepence it has afforded me has allowed me to regain some self-esteem and confidence, and a certainty to not let any man treat me so badly again. Such awful treatment for so long as of course left its scars, but without the guilt, both self-imposed as a result of the ruined friendships, and from him for never being good enough, I find it easier to reconcile now than I think I would have in any other position. My only regret is I didn’t have a chance to do this all sooner.

And, yes, even though at first I didn’t think so, I learned a lot during the last three years, both academically and non-academically. I made two short films during my time at uni – a documentary and a comedy-drama. I successfully wrote about gender in action films and the Lego movie as a dystopian film. I researched and pitched a Black Widow film, and very well too! I’ve wrote scripts and worked in content marketing and as a result of studying, having an internship and working part-time all at once, I’m able to compartmentalise and my time management is better (professionally, at least). Even now, my summer job and my trip to Amsterdam in September is all a result of my time at university.

Everything I thought I hadn’t got out of my university experience, I definitely did get and beyond. Mia in 2013 would never have expected to achieve half of what Mia in 2016 has. To be anything other than proud and grateful would feel disingenous. I definitely did make the right choice, and the impact of my university experience is still reaping benefits, for the time being, at least.

I could still do without all that student debt, though.