Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Britain heads into uncharted territory

After months of debates, accusations of racism and vitriolic attacks, voters are finally going to the polls to decide whether Britain remains a part of the European Union.

Every vote counts and turnout is all the more important. But at the eleventh hour, despite persuasive arguments from both sides of the campaign, torrential rain sweeping across Britain was feared to impact on the historic vote.

Polls failed to show any clear lead for either side. Indeed even if rain doesn't keep voters away from the polling station the result is expected to be extremely close.

The focus of the campaigns have hinged on several issues. Democracy has featured strongly amongst those promoting the Leave argument, claiming that 'unelected bureaucrats' in Brussels take away Britain's rights and impose unjust laws upon the country. Immigration has also been a major issue and become extremely divisive. There have been accusations of some parts of the Leave campaign exploiting people's fears over immigration to the point of racism. The vitriol boiled over when a pro-Remain MP, Jo Cox, was murdered by an individual, who while obviously mentally disturbed, had likely been influenced by some of the almost racist rhetoric coming from some parts of the Brexit camp.

The Remain side has not been entirely squeaky clean. Indeed many on the opposite side have dubbed their campaign as 'Project Fear' after countless claims that a Brexit will bring about recession, economic collapse and years of uncertainty.

The papers have varied in their support. Some have shamelessly supported the Brexit campaign amongst them the Sun, Daily Mail and Telegraph.

The Times, Guardian and Daily Mirror have tended to lean towards Remain with the Independent mainly sitting on the fence. The Financial Times has not been as vocal although their warning about the financial risks following a Brexit could be interpreted as its having a pro-Remain position.

The broadcasters have not sided with one camp or the other, although it could be argued that some campaigns and certain campaigners have been given more oxygen of publicity that they deserved.

And there has been endless TV, Radio and online debates. Perhaps the most enthralling was the Big Debate held in Wembley and broadcast by the BBC. Channel 4's The Last Debate hosted by the veteran broadcaster Jeremy Paxman was also engaging. CNN's UK Decides debate hosted by Christiane Amanpour had been pulled from its intended broadcast slot one week before the referendum after the murder of Jo Cox MP. However when it finally went to air a week later it was rather a disappointment.

But today the voters in the UK will decide. But whichever way the vote goes it will be a leap into the unknown as neither side can predict exactly what might happen.

tvnewswatch, London, UK