Paul Stainton: Twitter spats mirror EU debate

Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host -
Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host -
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During the “Thatcher years,” sat at the back of the class, pretending to listen at school, everything was “Brilliant!” (The Young Ones) or “Suits you sir! (Fast Show).

Every now and again one of us would come up with a “Cunning plan” (Blackadder) and some of our gang would often ask for fashion advice – “Does my bum look big in this?”

Often we would “Mostly be wearing” a Kagool, whilst “Asking to see those fingers,” but of course it would all be done in the “Best possible taste.”

TV catchphrases tripped off the tongue and helped get you through the tortuous school day; the best ones were repeated time and time again and still resonate today; they are remembered with fondness and immediately transport you back to a certain point in your life.

Sadly, the latest one from Peterborough MP, Stewart Jackson, “Suck it up whiner,” has not been received with much affection on the “Remain” side of the Euro referendum.

His Twitter response, to a journalist whinging about the legitimacy of the vote, even prompted the ire of Harry Potter author, JK Rowling, who launched a stinging attack on Peterborough’s top muggle.

He in turn has advised JK to return to Hogwarts and learn a little more about democracy and humility; failing that, stick her magic wand where Professor Snape can’t find it!

But that spat is symptomatic about what was wrong with the whole EU debate; both sides were so vitriolic, so nasty and determined to win at all costs, that they forgot to communicate properly with the electorate.

Blatant lies were told on both sides of the debate and in the end we had to vote on gut reaction rather than cold, hard facts. Politics and politicians failed the voting public.

Like many I am sure, my vote was up for grabs until the fifty ninth minute of the eleventh hour, my pencil poised over both boxes, unsure which was the best option for my family and the future of this country.

But all I heard in the final days of the campaign was claim and counter claim, bile and rage, nothing of consequence which could help influence my decision.

In the end I voted “Remain,” financial security and economic solidity won over my concerns about immigration and the financial quagmire that is the European union.

But unlike many who voted the same way, I accept the will of the people and urge all sides to come together and help build the country that our children deserve.

Our future may lie outside of the European Union now, but we can still make it a great one and we will have to forge close ties with them in order to succeed in that.

The time for recriminations, anger and rage is over, I for one have had enough of it all.

Our politicians need to act like adults and treat us all with a little more respect. They have to start listening again to the people that elected them; people who were frustrated with the status quo, people who felt ignored and belittled.

Whoever is tasked with negotiating our withdrawal, has to go about it in a considered and positive way, a way that doesn’t antagonise or destroy our relationship with the EU.

We can’t afford to ignore them, they are our closest neighbours, our allies and friends and one of the biggest trading areas in the world.

The late great Dick Emery, had a catchphrase which summed up my feelings towards them: “Ooh you are awful, but I like you!”