Friday, July 8, 2016
WHAT HAVE WE DONE?
David Runciman, Neal Ascherson, James Butler, T.J. Clark, Jonathan Coe, Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, Daniel Finn, Dawn Foster, Jeremy Harding, Colin Kidd, Ross McKibbin, Philippe Marlière, James Meek, Pankaj Mishra, Jan-Werner Müller, Susan Pedersen, J.G.A. Pocock, Nick Richardson, Nicholas Spice, Wolfgang Streeck, Daniel Trilling.
So who is to blame? Please don’t say the voters: 17,410,742 is an awful lot of people to be wrong on a question of this magnitude. They are not simply suckers and/or closet racists – in fact, relatively few of them are – and they are not plain ignorant. You can’t fool that many people, even for a relatively short period of time. And yes it was close, but it wasn’t that close. The margin between the two sides – 3.8 per cent – was roughly the same as the margin by which Obama defeated Romney in the 2012 presidential election (3.9 per cent), and you don’t hear a lot of people complaining about the legitimacy of that, not even Republicans (well, not that many). Plus, turnout in the referendum, at 72.2 per cent, was nearly 18 per cent higher than in the last presidential election. The difference, of course, is that a general election is a constitutional necessity whereas the EU referendum was a political choice. If you don’t like the outcome, don’t say it was the wrong answer to the question. It was the wrong question, put at the wrong time, in the wrong way. And that’s the fault of the politicians...