IN IS OUTt.png

Elliot Leavy

In "The Principles of Newspeak", the appendix to the novel 1984, Orwell highlights how Newspeak is not a natural product of the human condition, but something that is consciously constructed in order to reach a particular, predefined goal. I can’t think of a more obvious case of this than transformation of what was once more called the Second Referendum, a.k.a the People’s Vote, a.k.a. the Final Say, a.k.a. (possible spoiler alert) the Confirmatory Vote – a vote that can be most accurately described throughout its metamorphoses more concisely as: the Losers’ Vote.

Regardless of YouGov finding this week that apart from London and Scotland, a majority of regions in the UK would prefer a No Deal Brexit to remaining in the European Union, the Government is showing that it no longer feels duty bound to listen. Instead, Theresa May, together with Jeremy Corbyn, have reportedly agreed on a deal which in no way reflects what was voted on in the 2016 referendum nor in the 2017 general election. As Robert Peston reports, the truce between the two parties could be based on the government committing to a staying in the Customs Union (a direct contravening of both parties’ manifestoes), “dynamic” alignment with EU rules (covering workers’ rights and the environment), and giving the Commons a vote on whether the whole package would be subject to confirmation in a referendum.

The People’s Vote – a name which tellingly would be home anywhere within the page’s of Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung – has transformed into the Confirmatory Vote. You see, the Vote Formerly Known as The People’s was a little bit too broad and open to interpretation, but thanks to a sprinkling of dictatorial definition from above to those down below we finally see the vote achieve its final form: bienvenue, herzlich willkommen, buenvenuto to the Confirmatory Vote. A confirmation of an answer to question that was never actually asked.

If you control the language you control the outcome, so it is no accident that this amalgamation of meanings have become so misconstrued that the 17.4 million who won the referendum find that their opinion is no longer relevant. What was once a simple, Remain or Leave question, has now been twisted into one which is clearly different: Remain and have voting rights, or sort-of Remain and have no voting rights. The first is the status quo and the second is objectively worse than the status quo – neither can be considered “taking back control”. Even weirder, none of these two possible paths ahead were agreed on by the people who the (as it was once known as) People’s Vote apparently has in mind. Strange isn’t it?

I voted Remain, and have been for either us leaving or remaining in totality from the get-go. The former is now a dead duck unless France decides to vote Charles de Gaulle us again, the latter should only be accepted if there was a clearcut change in opinion. Whatever happens next, my vote will be defined by whatever stays true to the initial result of the question asked in 2016: be that voting for a party, politician, or policy, that I would have not have even given the time of day to in the past.

Although many today scoff at the very notion of democracy – believing it to be a defunct system that relies too heavily on the uneducated proles below – I, as does majority of country who voted the ‘wrong’ way, do not. If there was any hill worth dying on, then this is it – come next election, both political parties are going to learn that this issue is much more important then either of them.