Viewpoint: Being ignored

rain on window

Jonathan Flowers on how it feels not to be heard.

Voice Number 1 – “I’m really frustrated and don’t know what to do about it. The vast majority of people I know and trust, virtually everyone I’m connected to on Facebook, the newspapers I respect, are really concerned about Brexit – what it will do to the country, and the impact on me and my family. Frankly it’s quite scary that people want to take such a huge risk, but in a referendum the power lies with people who really don’t seem to care about those things; it seems as though there is nothing that can be said that will change their mind. It’s terrifying. It feels really bad to be so completely ignored”.

Voice Number 2 – “I’m really frustrated and don’t know what to do about it. The vast majority of people I know and trust, virtually everyone I’m connected to on Facebook, the newspapers I respect, are really concerned about immigration – what it will do to the country, and the impact on me and my family. Frankly it’s quite scary that people want to take such a huge risk, but in our system of government the power lies with people who really don’t seem to care about those things; it seems as though there is nothing that can be said that will change their mind. It’s terrifying. It feels really bad to be so completely ignored. And I’ve been feeling like this for more than a decade”.

Of these two voices I personally identify strongly with Voice 1. I agree strongly with the community, regulatory and economic goals of the EU – it is not perfect but the good far outweighs the bad. I suspect that we could muddle through a Brexit if, as seems possible, we will have to, but I fear there is scope for a really rough time for a lot of people, and even for me and my family, relatively insulated though we are.

But this isn’t a post about Brexit – this is a post about the terrifying sense of powerlessness and dread that I and many of my friends on the outer fringes of “the establishment” are feeling. It feels really terrible to be ignored, to have one’s views so disrespected, and it is an “interesting” visceral experience. It is an insight I haven’t had recently into how so many people feel, and have felt for sometime. I “knew” this intellectually before. In fact, I thought that I “got” it; I feel it more now.

Others I speak with admit to this privately, though in some cases have roles where to admit this publicly would suggest that they are out of touch. Others, including some of my elected friends, recognise this – the way in which they feel ignored is that they can’t get their party or campaign hierarchies to understand it!

Whatever the outcome on 23rd June I hope that those of us who have access, and a voice, are able to bottle up this feeling and remember it in future. And that is why I’ve written this blog.

Jonathan Flowers is a local government advisor www.jonathanflowers.com

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