2016 – Be Careful what you wish for……U.K. and the U.S. experience their version of the Arab Spring

Brexit and Trump
Post On , Friday, January 13th, 2017

What a year 2016 was…..

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The Year of Brexit, and the “Donald”

Trump calls Brexit
The Year of the underdog


12 months ago most people would have thought that this was unthinkable.

Now on the Eve of Trump’s inauguration as the next president of the United States of America it has become a distinct reality.

For me, I thought the past year was fascinating to watch, and how the events unfolded.

And interestingly, people’s reaction to the results.

Much of the media reported that how western democracy had failed them. That how could both the British and American Public end up in such a polarised and confused state.

The reality is, is that many people at grass roots level were dis-enfranchised, and disillusioned with the political system. There had been a lack of, and in some cases no political representation for these people. They no longer had a voice.

When this happens in any civilised society, you have a revolt against the political system, and this is what happened in both cases.

They were sick and tired of not having their voices heard. Listening to broken promises been spouted from career politicians when all they seemed interested in was lining their own pockets and interests.

Both these campaigns from the Brexit and Trump Camp were driven on a theme of fear, exclusion, xenophobia, self-interest, patriotism (nationalism), and segregation.

Many right minded people thought how on earth did we get to this position?

What had brought us here?

What had caused such hostility, hatred, and polarisation among society?

The truth is that what had caused it was widening gap in between the people that have, and the many that don’t.

Driven by social media, The U.K. and the U.S experienced their version of the Arab Spring in 2016.

Be careful what you wish for……..

Both these campaigns were driven by people’s fears, insecurities, and a general feeling of neglect and disdain towards the existing governments in power.

Social media provided the vehicle for them to be heard, and it is where it gathered momentum and power. As the majority of the media organisations on both sides of the Atlantic were both Pro – Hilary, and Pro – Remain.

Little did the media, the polls, politicians and many others, truly understand the absolute raw power and influence of social media.

This is after all a largely unregulated communications channel. Where people can say, do, and share what they want.

While also been fed confirmation of what they already believe to be the case due to Facebook’s algorithms. You are only ever exposed to beliefs and opinions that you (for the most part) agree with due to the platform targeting content to a specific audience with similar interests.

This “Facebook” model in some respects is proving to be a fundamental threat to our society. As it breeds radical and extreme views, without the engagement of healthy debate with opposing views.

The problem though with social media in a Voting context is this –

People and popular movements don’t run countries. Leaders and policies do.

Brexit, been a glaring example. That when they won their campaign, the people behind it were so surprised that they had won it they had no Plan…..

No Plan A, no Plan B
Boris Johnston and Nigel Farage doing what they do best
Boris Johnston and Nigel Farage doing what they do best


The larger than life clown Boris Johnston ran for cover.

Nigel Farage, victoriously stood down from his position. As he stated in his own words that he had now achieved his lifelong dream, getting Britain out of Europe.

The U.K. went from the fifth largest economy in the world, to sixth, in a matter of weeks of Brexit been declared as a period of instability in the markets followed it. Due in no small part, to their been no plan, no leader and no direction. The atmosphere was one of uncertainty and the markets reacted accordingly.

The EU was also hit from the shock decision and brought serious questions to the fore about the actual effectiveness of the EU project. Would it be able to survive this latest setback?

Many people are now betting that the EU will eventually fail.

One thing is certain, it was a serious wake up call for these EU bureaucrats, and technocrats. Showing that the EU remains in a fickle position and uncertain times lie ahead.

The exit of Brexit came as huge shock to a lot of people. A lot of people saying that another referendum should be called. Others saying that it was a disgrace that so many “uneducated” people had undermined the U.K. in the EU and what it stood for.

I suppose what many people failed to see, was that 52% people voted to leave, 48% voted to remain, a 4% swing in favour of leaving.

So it was a clear vote to leave. Yet a lot of the remain voters complained that the leave campaign didn’t really know what they were voting for. Over 17 million people to be precise.

What got under my skin was the reaction of the voters that had lost in both Brexit and the Trump / Hilary Campaign
Brexit Protest
People take to the streets to protest against Brexit


They acted like there was a sense of entitlement, that they had been wronged, and that how could this reality have happened.

This after all, had not been part of the script. Forgetting that this was a democratic vote and the majority (or in the case of Trump – the electorate) had voted them in.

They took to the streets in protest, they belittled there fellow citizens. Asking themselves how could they be so stupid for this to happen?

Interestingly with the Brexit vote, both Northern Ireland (56% to remain), and Scotland (62% to remain), had voted overwhelming to remain.

England and Wales had voted to leave.

Within in England, Manchester and London had actually voted to remain, the 2 most populous cities in England, and also the most prosperous.

This gives you an idea of how the rest of England had voted. That generally the more prosperous areas voted to stay, while the more impoverished and less affluent areas voted to leave. The same would have applied in Wales.

But why did Northern Ireland and Scotland vote to stay in the EU? And why was the Remain majority so big in both?


The answer lies in 2 factors I believe

In both countries, there is and continues to be strong and clear political representation for the people in these regions.

The politicians are much more in touch with the voting public and their needs and aspirations.

Unlike in England and Wales, where they completely lost touch with the voting public they were supposedly representing. They had in essence lost touch with what was happening on the ground, with reality. What did people really want? How did they feel?


I think the reason that Northern Ireland, and Scotland voted so differently is down to their culture.

There is still a very strong sense of communities within these countries, unlike England. While Wales has always been more insular. Looking inwardly, rather than looking outwardly and inviting change and economic progression.

And this strong sense of community enriches a sense of the collectiveness, openness, engagement, diversity, creativity and progressiveness.

These cultures and societies were removed from the leave campaign because they could see more power and good in the collective power of been under one banner with the EU.

They were able to understand how it could continue to make a better economy and standard of living for them through free trade. While also, through diversity, how other cultures and traditions can enrich a society with new ideas, skills and methods.

It really does leave a huge question mark on where England and Wales are at as a society? And unfortunately now the rest of the U.K..

Only time will tell.


“The Donald”
Donald Trump
The Donald


Honestly, who would have thought it?

The presenter of the reality TV show “The Apprentice” would actually in fact become the next president of the United States of America!

It was an unbelievable campaign. In truth, neither of them deserved to be the next president of any country, never mind the U.S.A.

They both parked their integrity and everything else at the door, before the gloves came off and they went at it.

One of the most vitriol presidential campaigns in recent memory.

Trump’s campaign was indeed filled with polarising people, tapping into their vulnerabilities, insecurities and their sense of injustice. He then went about exploiting it, and giving them a new sense of hope, and “Let’s make America Great Again”.

And boy did it work, it was sad to see how divided people remain in the U.S. Among many main stream issues such as immigrants, and the racial divide which seem much worse than it ever was in recent memory.


Trump’s campaign followed along similar lines to the Brexit Campaign

Both were given long betting odds that they would actually win.

Both had the majority of media channels and organisations against them.

Both had many prominent celebrity and other public figures denouncing them.

Both used fear mongering, and false promises to convince their voters to vote for them.

i.e. Trump – Build a wall along the Mexican border and get the Mexicans to pay for it?? (Though it now seems he is still intent on building the wall).

i.e. Brexit – The £350 million that the U.K. government was giving to the EU every week would instead all be invested in the NHS.

Both campaigns promised to offer something different moving forward, rather than more of the same.

Both campaigns gathered serious momentum on social media.

Both campaigns won the minds (and in some cases hearts) as it gave them a sense of hope of a new dawn and a new beginning.

Both Won.


It was quite clear, that there was something fundamentally broken in these 2 societies. And for too long, too many people were either been mis-represented or not represented at all.

And guess what

People got fed up of listening to the same old jargon from the political elite, and decided to vote for something different, anything different…..

It doesn’t matter how bad it may seem, let’s vote for it and see if they can do it any better. Because the existing model just isn’t working……for Me.

People felt dis-enfranchised, let down and left behind, and the gap in inequality had extended since the global meltdown in 2008.

The model seemed to be broken as homelessness, poverty, and cheap budget shops were on the rise, along with increased tuition fees for students and increased living costs across the board. All while the other section of society became wealthier and more ostentatious in the manner that they lived.

Meryl Streep
Meryl Streep delivering her speech
Meryl Streep delivering her speech


I watched Meryl Streep Accept a lifetime achievement award on the Golden Globes a few nights ago.

Her acceptance speech was one that derided Trump’s presidential campaign and how horrified she was of his behaviour throughout it.

Of course, many of the issues she highlighted were right. No person in a position of power and influence should use that platform to humiliate another, or incite violence.

But for me, and Hollywood, as a whole were missing the point

This is isn’t about Trump, this isn’t about mocking a disabled reporter, and it’s not about inciting violence.

It’s about inequality, people not having a fair shot, equal opportunity, something that Hollywood and Beverly Hills know very little about.

These people along with many others that have lived in a bubble for so long seem to be blind to the fact that there is a lot of *issed off people in their country.

People that have to work 2, sometimes 3 unskilled or semi-skilled jobs to keep food on the table. To afford to rent and heat their houses, put clothes on their children, send them to school, pay for medical insurance……..And then after school the kids have to fund themselves through College…..

It will be interesting what 2017 and the following years will bring

My prediction is, that after the tumultuous year that 2016 was, that we will see a correction this year and things will settle down.

If anything, the past year was a wakeup call for western leaders, and western governments. Along with others within positions of power, privilege, and influence.

Now, more than ever, we are ruled and influenced by how people feel at grass roots level. Through social media and popular movement and sentiment.

Even Great Britain and the U.S.A. are unable to prevent their own version of the Arab Spring now.

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