On the hottest day of the year, a friend and I were lucky enough to be having lunch by a rooftop pool in a swanky private members’ club. The sound of splashing water and the chatter of a glamorous crowd made for a pleasing enough way to spend a sweltering August day in London. That is until my friend turned the conversation, as it seems all conversations must still be turned, to the dreaded referendum result. “You know what I’ve noticed? All the stupid people voted to leave the EU,” she said, making a disgusted face.
At the next table, two media luvvies were also catching up on their summer by discussing political events in bereft tones. “Oh I know, I was at Glasto when it happened,” said one of the men, tucking into grilled octopus. “I went to sleep that night thinking everything was fine, and when I woke up the result had gone the wrong way.”
Well, I thought, that will teach you to scuttle off to Glastonbury to see Adele when your country needs you.
But more pertinently, I turned to my friend and said: “Stupid? What about me? I voted Leave. Are you saying I’m stupid? Lots of my friends outside London voted Leave too. Are they all stupid?”
An awkward silence prevailed, so we decided to move on. Too many friendships have fallen by the wayside to Brexit. But I have had this same conversation about “stupid Leave voters” many times, so before we moved on, I told her that I believed intelligence to be a funny thing. When it comes to making decisions, is intellect the crucial factor, or is what matters most a fully functioning moral compass? In other words, did not most of those who voted Leave – even those who lacked university degrees – have a sense of right and wrong?
Are we really suggesting that we wish to stop those considered “stupid” from voting, thereby ending universal suffrage in the name of getting election and referendum results that suit the so-called chattering classes better? And bear in mind, those classes included people who moaned about the result affecting their mortgages on multi-million pound homes. How moral is that? Or do we stop people voting unless they pass an IQ test, perhaps?
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