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Healing Divisions

January 25, 2017 3:45 PM
By Anita Day in Postcard from a Lincolnshire Liberal

Anita DayThe US and UK are today more divided than at any time in living memory. As we have seen this weekend with more people protesting against Donald Trump's election than attended his inauguration, the American administration has a lot to do to heal those rifts, and it's a pity that Trump is not trying harder to build bridges with those who oppose him. I suspect that is partly because they feel it can't be done… that the idealistic differences are too great to be bridged, so it's not worth trying.

But I think that is a dangerous attitude, and an error that we are in danger of repeating in Britain. I am a committed Remainer, and nothing that has happened since the referendum has made me doubt that leaving the EU/single market/customs union will be very damaging to our country. So there is a tendency amongst people like me to keep pointing to the economic evidence, wait for Leavers to realise their mistake and - when they don't - become frustrated and abusive about their 'stupidity'- particularly when faced with vitriol about our inability to 'accept democracy and shut up'. But these attitudes miss the point, and do nothing to heal our country.

In my view, there is no place for name-calling and personal insults on either side. Just because someone does not agree with our point of view, does not make it acceptable to call them an idiot (or worse). In football parlance, we need to 'play the ball, not the man'. And that starts with a very simple but important shift in thinking. Business negotiations have taught me that, whether you agree with the other person's actions or not, it is essential to recognise that they are acting with the best of intentions. You may think they are misguided, but you should never doubt that they truly believe that 'their way' is better, and their motivations are sincere. In other words, Leavers genuinely believe that Britain will be better off outside the EU/single market/customs union, and whilst we may not agree with them, we should treat that viewpoint- and them- with respect.

That doesn't mean that we shouldn't continue to point out where we believe Theresa May is wrong. The Supreme Court has ruled that parliament must ratify the triggering of Article 50, and that Labour will start to behave like the Opposition and join the cross-party group that will oppose it. And I believe we are right to argue for a referendum once the terms of our exit are understood (assuming that triggering Article 50 is revocable if we vote No). But let's play the ball, not the man!

I know….. it's not always easy, especially when it feels like the millions who hold our views are being ignored by the government. But part of being a Liberal and a Democrat is accepting that sometimes our quest for an Open, Tolerant & United Britain means that we have to behave better than our opponents!

Take care, and speak soon

Anita

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Anita A D Day

Membership Development

South Lincs Liberal Democrats
07410 709338

Follow me on Twitter: @AnitadayA