I get a lot of emails from LBC listeners and For the Many podcast fans, but this one, from 22 year old Joseph Bryant*, was a corker. So I thought I'd share it with you.
I've just ordered a copy of your book from your website.
I'm 22 and have just finished a degree in maths at Kent, but am massively into politics and have been since I guess around the lead up to the 2010 election. I'm a Tory member, which isn't easy being at university, and certainly something that you feel the need to hide from most people amongst all the 'Fuck Boris' and 'Bollocks to Brexit' stickers everywhere! I'd say that I'm more of a David Cameron era fiscal Conservative, but I'm not particularly ideological. I also voted leave, though I think a little like you I was on the fence for a while. I started the campaign assuming that I'd vote to remain and probably, in the end, voted leave for the wrong reasons, becoming increasingly frustrated by the negativity of our prospects outside. If people think we're better off in the EU, then that's a perfectly fair enough point of view to hold, but for the likes of George Osborne, ironically in my case seeing as how much I respected his policies of the previous six years, to suggest that we would go into a recession just on a vote to leave was clearly ridiculous.
So I ended up voting leave for all of the wrong reasons, but have become more pleased with my decision every day. I'd say I'm fairly closely aligned with David Cameron's eurosceptic views of Europe, having read nearly half of his book, but just about swung the other way on what our future should be.
I apologise for indulging myself, but I spend so much time listening either to your radio show (after your Question Time appearance last year) or For The Many, that I felt it right to at least put some effort into it whether you got this far or not! The crux of what I was trying to get to is how important what you do is in my opinion. I'm a fair-minded person, but I'm sick of being described as a racist, or having voted to make us a 3rd rate country, or the laughing stock of the world etc, and that's just from my own family!
However, I fear that we are heading fairly quickly towards an American increasingly partisan kind of political discourse. I love a debate. I may not always agree with the other side of the argument but I'm happy to hear it. I can find it perfectly reasonable when people say there are good things about the EU, or that certain aspects of the Government's handling of the current crisis have been less than desirable to put it nicely. But when I suggest that the government has done something good, or that I see positives with signing new trade deals with other countries, or not being under the jurisdiction of the ECJ, all I get in return is that I'm supporting literal fascists and that we already make our own rules (and of course the EU know better than us what's best for us!). It becomes tiring, and I do everything in my power not to shout back at them the terrible holes in their argument.
They don't want to listen. Even when it does work they just move on to the next issue that they're sure they've got right "Well you can't forget about the 60,000 needlessly dead because of this government" (I'd obviously accept that in care homes there were huge failings, but second-guessing dates of lockdown now and speculating how many fewer people would have died helps no one) or "Well just wait until the Russia report comes out" (Though that's now "Well they didn't find anything because they weren't looking for it" to which I refer them to Russell's teapot).
I hope your book has cut through, I really do. However, I've got a feeling those that will read it won't be those that need to. I hope we're not heading towards an American level of political discourse (or of course their terrible chlorinated chicken that will kill us all because we'd all be forced to eat it and it wouldn't be up to the consumer at all...) but I'm not sure. I think a lot may rest on what's happens on the BBC in the next years. I love watching a lot of it. I love Newsnight and Emily Maitlis, but if they can't see that her monologues are a terrible idea then I don't think anyone can help them.
I will stop here finally, because if you've made it anywhere near this far you must be close to falling asleep anyway, and feel that you didn't need to read the political views of an amateur! I will just say thank you once again, and I wish you all the best in all of your endeavours.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I wrote WHY CAN'T WE JUST GET ALONG. My correspondent put it far better than I could, to be honest.
* And yes, Joseph gave his permission for me to use his email.