I genuinely thought that I was done with writing about the EU Referendum yesterday but, alas, it is not done with me…
Not having a smartphone I’ve been generally immune to the constant cycle of rolling news, petitions, social media updates, and collective hysterical meltdown. Or “chaos” as The Economist put it. But, like a fool, I decided to have a look at The Guardian while I was on dinner today.
I really don’t know why I still read The Guardian. It’s an occasional read, and I generally come away from their website feeling thoroughly frustrated and alienated. It seems increasingly to be written for the populations of Southwark, Hackney, Islington and Shoreditch exclusively. I had hoped for some sense from them this time, given the graveness of the situation post Brexit announcement, but no…
I knew about some of the petitions because I had emails yesterday about the TUC one and the Make Votes Matter one, plus a colleague had told me about the one for a second referendum, which the UK press have got all over their pages today. The Guardian also mentioned the one on Change.org for London to declare itself independent from the rest of the UK.
It was this last one that got me.
For several reasons…
To begin with, it is a slightly weird example of life imitating art because Radio 4 did a mock documentary last year on London declaring independence from the rest of the UK, and how they thought it might pan out. Maybe they could organise a repeat of this in the light of recent events?
Secondly, James O’Malley, who started the petition, makes a number of sweeping statements in his summary, particularly this one:
Let’s face it – the rest of the country disagrees. So rather than passive aggressively vote against each other at every election, let’s make the divorce official and move in with our friends on the continent.
Whoa… hang on a minute there!
The rest of the country disagrees?!?
Has he cobbled this petition together without even looking at the breakdowns of which towns and cities voted for which option?
If we take the Greater Manchester area, the results were as follows:
Bolton: Leave by 51.89% to 48.11%
Bury: Leave by 54.12% to 45.88%
Manchester: Remain by 60.36% to 39.64%
Oldham: Leave by 60.86% to 39.14%
Rochdale: Leave by 60.07% to 39.93%
Salford: Leave by 56.81% to 43.19%
Stockport: Remain by 52.33% to 47.67%
Tameside: Leave by 61.14% to 38.86%
(All statistics gained using the widget on the Manchester Evening News referendum coverage)
This means that Manchester and Stockport form an island of Remain in a sea of Leave, handily complicating Mr O’Malley’s theory that everyone except London, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted Leave. Oh, and Trafford voted Remain as well: 57.7% to 42.3% so maybe we’re not so alone…
If we look at the London councils, and their results, using the Manchester Evening News widget again:
Well, for a start, London has 33 councils, not 8, so it’s not a fair comparison. That said, of those 33 councils, 5 of them voted for Leave. Which, while still a minority, blows a hole in Mr O’Malley’s argument. What’s he going to do? Expel those five councils, or take them hostage in the same way that Scotland (where every council voted in) and Northern Ireland (ditto) have been taken hostage by the rest of the UK?
Similarly, Wales is being written about as though the entirety of Wales voted to leave. This simply isn’t true: Cardiff voted to Remain by a margin of 60.02% to 39.98%, should it now, as the Welsh capital, declare independence from the rest of Wales?
Cardiff may have been in the minority but it wasn’t the only bit of Wales to vote Remain: Ceredigion did by 54.6% to 45.4%, Gwynedd also voted for Remain by 58.1% to 41.9%, and Glamorgan voted for Remain by 50.7% to 49.3%. Incidentally, Bristol voted Remain by 61.7% to 38.3%, so at least there’s a friend across the bridge…
If you want a snappy soundbite: Medway voted Leave, Manchester voted Remain, and Medway is a helluva lot nearer to London, geographically speaking, so blaming it all on the savages north of Watford just won’t stand.
Similarly: Leeds, York and Newcastle all voted Remain.
You can see a full breakdown of all the local results over on the BBC, and it’s easier than using the MEN widget.
In conclusion, while a certain amount of panic, anger, and looking for someone to blame is inevitable in these times. Can we all, please, do a little bit more research and preparation before we start slinging the mud about?
Scotland and Northern Ireland have both, in their very different ways, begun to explore the feasibility of remaining in the EU and/or gaining independence from the rest of the UK. Given that every council in Scotland and every council in Northern Ireland voted Remain, this is completely understandable. The fact that Belfast central post office today ran out of passport application forms (fact: As part of the Good Friday Agreement, those in Northern Ireland are entitled to both Irish and British passports) reflects this move.
But Mr O’Malley is basing his plea for an Independent London on the financial district, which, ironically, proved to be the downfall of the newly independent London as imagined by Radio 4 last year. This ended with another financial crash which London, now independent, had to absorb entirely on it’s own while the remainder of the UK looked on unmoved, shrugged, and got back to it’s growing manufacturing industries.
Full list of London council results, garnered using the MEN widget:
Barking and Dagenham: Leave by 62.44% to 37.56%
Barnet: Remain by 62.23% to 37.77%
Bexley: Leave by 62.95% to 37.05%
Brent: Remain by 59.74% to 40.26%
Bromley: Remain by 50.65% to 49.35%
Camden: Remain by 74.94% to 25.06%
City of London: Remain by 75.29% to 24.71%
Westminster: Remain by 68.97% to 31.03%
Croydon: Remain by 54.29% to 45.71%
Ealing: Remain by 60.40% to 39.60%
Enfield: Remain by 55.82% to 44.18%
Greenwich: Remain by 55.59% to 44.41%
Hackney: Remain by 78.48% to 21.52%
Hammersmith and Fulham: Remain by 70.02% to 29.98%
Haringey: Remain by 75.57% to 24.43%
Harrow: Remain by 54.63% to 45.37%
Havering: Leave by 69.66% to 30.34%
Hillingdon: Leave by 56.37% to 43.63%
Hounslow: Remain by 51.06% to 48.94%
Islington: Remain by 75.22% to 24.78%
Kensington and Chelsea: Remain by 68.69% to 31.31%
Kingston-Upon-Thames: Remain by 61.61% to 38.39%
Lambeth: Remain by 78.62% to 21.38%
Lewisham: Remain by 69.86% to 30.14%
Merton: Remain by 62.94% to 37.06%
Newham: Remain by 52.84% to 47.16%
Redbridge: Remain by 53.97% to 46.03%
Richmond-Upon-Thames: Remain by 69.29%
Southwark: Remain by 72.81% to 27.19%
Sutton: Leave by 53.72% to 46.28%
Tower Hamlets: Remain by 67.46% to 32.54%
Waltham Forest: Remain by 59.10% to 40.90%
Wandsworth: Remain by 75.03% to 24.97%