Tomorrow in the United Kingdom the population is heading to the polls to vote to decide on continued membership of the European Union.
Whilst I have hesitated to mention politics on Linkedin (I have previously expressed my views here, with more articles here and a video here), this is a momentous vote. Whatever the outcome it will undoubtedly have long reaching, long lasting effects on the economic and business environment for years to come.
The Great Debate
Watching the debate on the BBC last night, the tone of the recent campaign messages was particularly concerning. Flag waving, naked nationalism, rubbishing expert/scientific advice and a Pollyanna outlook were all on display, as were the divisions that have opened up in British society.
Throughout this, the media have been at pains to appear to show an unbiased view. Every argument has had to have a response from the other side. This is even if there were no facts and just a ‘the others are talking rubbish’ or ‘don’t worry it will be fine’.
They have appeared to relish in observing the fight, stoking the arguments and fanning the flames of discontent.
A step back for diversity?
Unfortunately this has had the unfortunate effect of surfacing some very unsavoury, xenophobic views.
And, these views have been provided a voice and disproportionate airtime. With this airtime having a legitimising effect, normalising what would have previously be seen as unacceptable.
Diversity, it seems, may have just taken a big step backwards.
It may run deep and could have long consequences, beyond just the vote tomorrow.
After the vote: some concerns
If the Remain group win, we should expect groups holding these views to be vocally upset; they have just been emboldened. Further violent outbursts may indeed follow.
If the Leave group win, the group will be further encouraged, they will be in power and writing the laws. The views could easily get more extreme and easily written into legislation (especially if there is an economic collapse, with a search to find someone to blame).
British society has been built on diverse, tolerant, understated and pragmatic principles. It is something I am proud to be part of.
However a vote to Leave and the associated lurch to the right is not. I believe it will be bad for business, our daily working environment and the strength we gain from diversity in the workplace.
In typical British fashion, many do not want to say anything or rock the boat. It is important however, in my personal view, to make your voice heard and vote for the tolerant, kinder society being presented by remaining in the EU.
I am still Remain.
(I also remain extremely concerned about the economic fallout: the financial markets are swift, unsentimental and hard nosed, we should expect the pound to drop and consumer prices increase on a leave result, but that is another topic…)
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