It has just passed half eleven at night here in South Korea but I’m still wired awake. And I’m rather surprised why: an election thousands of miles away. Polling days have never given me trouble sleeping before. Even when the pressure’s been on me – when I’ve been the candidate, the agent or the one running the committee room – I’ve always been able to get some decent sleep at least until my alarm woke me up at 4am to go delivering Good Mornings. Maybe it’s precisely because I can’t turn my anxiety into motivation to do something constructive that it’s so much worse. I’ve donated money and turned my social media accounts into a stream of propaganda but that’s no substitute for speaking to voters. However, I think a more important factor is that I am more anxious.
As I wrote in my last post, the polls are about as close as you’re ever likely to see. And I see no reason to think they are wrong. This feels like an election that could very easily go either way.
But you guys give me hope. You are not the flashiest, in fact at times you can be downright boring. While Leave have alternated between ridiculous bravado and hyperventilating, you’ve stayed dignified and reasonable. Even, I must add, in the face of murder and violence. That’s not always an asset in a democratic system: drama is exciting and the pose of the rebel – even if it is just a pose – is an attractive one. But you guys are nonetheless an asset to the democratic system. We need people who will present the electorate with fact rather than fantasy, and force them to consider the small print of policy proposals. And crucially we need people who absorb and dissipate rather than amplify hate – or worse still succumb to it.
I am praying that you will be victorious tomorrow. I think you have a good chance. Clearly the passion gap between Leave and Remain has closed as the ugliness of the Brexiteers has become appearent. But I also recognise that much of the electorate is in an unreasonable mood – a staggeringly high proportion of Leave voters believe the election is being rigged! – and that makes reasonable arguments hard to make. But either way, it will be close and you may well be what stands between Britain and a terrible self-inflicted wound.