As the country gears up to vote in the EU Referendum tomorrow I keep hearing one phrase over and over again. From debates in the pub to discussions on Facebook, this one phrase seems to pop up whenever things get a bit heated: “It’s nothing personal”.
“I’m not being funny, but you can think your way and I’ll think mine, it’s nothing personal”. Or, “I like Boris and you don’t – it’s nothing personal”. Or, “So you want to vote Remain but I think we’re better off out? Whatever. It’s nothing personal”.
Except it is. It’s very personal, because politics IS personal.
From hospitals to housing, immigration to education, these are all issues which directly affect us, our children and our children’s children. Anyone who thinks these debates are just about some distant, far-off ideas which don’t really have any impact on our lives is kidding themselves. The EU Referendum is a big deal, and I think the reason it’s got people on both sides of the argument so heated is because of the truly personal nature of the outcome.
There are some people who shy away from discussing their political views, terrified they might offend someone or get pulled into a discussion where they have to defend their ideas with people intent on changing them. I’m not one of those people. I wear my politics on my sleeve (left-wing, Remain, if you’re asking) and I’m not afraid to defend them.
I’ll tell you now that if the side I want to win doesn’t win tomorrow I’ll be upset. I’ll probably take to Twitter to have a good old moan. In the heat of the moment I’ll blame you if you voted the other way and I’ll probably secretly think your decision was based on some kind of thinly veiled racism.
However, that’s not to say I won’t like you. I’m sure I have many friends and family – people I love dearly – who won’t vote the same way as me. If we all had the same views the world would be a boring place and, when I’m not passionately outraged at a political situation, I can appreciate this.
When all is calm I know that it’s these differences which make us interesting. And when all is calm I know that your motivations for voting are the same as mine: you care about your family, your children’s future, your place in the world. You believe that you’re voting the right way, just as I believe that I’m voting the right way.
I can accept these differences and still hold love for anyone who doesn’t see the world the way I do (unless you’re Nigel Farage, Michael Gove or Boris Johnson – there really is no love here for you, sorry). But what I can’t accept is that this isn’t personal and it’s “just politics”.
It’s never “just politics”. Not when we’re talking about real people, real futures and real beliefs.
(P.S. Vote Remain. That is all.)