Democratically, the basic problem is this: there is no way a 51.9% share of a 72.2% turnout (so ~37.5% of voters) provides a remotely comfortable mandate for major constitutional change.
It's the worst possible result - a 3.8% margin of victory which is
neither quite small enough to easily ignore, nor quite large enough to
take as an actual mandate.
1.27 million votes is still a Big Number, though.
Compare 1975, when the referendum on whether the UK should join the then
EEC was won by 67.2% to 32.8%. Some may not have liked it but no-one
could argue with that result. Turnout slightly smaller than this time,
but still a clear answer to the question.
This time it's perfectly reasonable to say 'it's about 50/50 and we not
only shouldn't but can't and mustn't do anything drastic'. Massive
constitutional change of this sort, if it must be taken to referendum,
should require a clear majority. Something like 60-65%. That doesn't
seem unreasonable, and it is astonishing to me that something like this
wasn't put in place in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums
Meanwhile, drastic things have already been done, such as the bloody
thing having happened in the first place, the perfectly reasonable - if
essentially meaningless so far - EU response that we in the UK can fuck
off as quickly as possible please before we do any more damage, and the
utterly fucking terrifying open racism of so very much of the Leave
campaign and the Leave support.
Of course not all Leave voters have done so on the back of racism. But
they have all done so in league with it. I have friends who voted Leave
who do not yet realise this and who may never realise this. These are by
and large not people who think about politics much and if I haven't
raised the point with them it is because I know they will get defensive
and start defending the idea of voting along with the fascists when they
happen to agree with a tiny part of what they are all voting for. And
that is not an argument which will go anywhere helpful.
I also have far too many friends of friends who have turned out
unexpectedly to have openly voted Leave because they actually turn out
to think there are too many immigrants in this country. Those are not
friends of mine, and it has been terrifying to me - as a third
generation immigrant myself - to see first-hand how fucking easy it is
for demagogues to get traction among people who don't generally care
much for politics and stir up the very worst in them.
Then there's the Lexit crowd, precisely none of whom have provided any
justification for going along with the fascists. Because there is none
and can be none.
And finally, the people who Laurie Penny mentions in her fine article, linked here,
where she says 'when all you have is a hammer, all problems start
looking like David Cameron's face'. Which is all very well, but also
lurches into the territory of oh, these poor people are so fucked, you can't possibly expect them to understand complex things like politics.
And here's me thinking that the Labour movement was supposed to be all
about people who were so fucked they had no choice but to get a very
fucking good understanding of politics PDQ.
Which it used to be, but hasn't been for too long.
Obviously it's completely crazy talk but if the Labour movement actually
made some kind of effort to connect there it might just gain some
traction. Instead everyone wants to knife Corbyn because of unpleasant
things he said about their mate in 1994 or whatever else their problem
with him may be. Over here in the Green party we're far too busy hugging
trees and thinking about the planet to bother with that kind of shit,
but someone urgently needs to deal with the fact that UKIP are
moving in and need to be confronted, directly, at grass-roots, with a
better and non-shit alternative.
And the vote was *so* close. If they'd extended the franchise to 16-18s
we wouldn't be having this conversation, because it would have been
52-48 the other way: in referenda on major change you need a clear
majority in favour to proceed; anything else means you don't. The tiny
majority in favour - what we have - is the nightmare no-one wins result.
[originally posted as a comment on the MeFi mega Brexit post]