A binary question

The people have spoken.  Actually they haven’t.  Just under fifty two per cent of those that voted said one thing and just over forty eight per cent said the opposite.  But twenty eight per cent said nothing.

Whatever you feel about the result of last week’s referendum regarding the UK’s membership of the European Union, we should take time to ask whether such a big question could have been put to the electorate using such a small question.

The question was binary, a simple yes or no.

The result has divided the nation.  About half of those who voted are elated and the other half is deflated.  The old were more likely to choose the opposite preference to the young.  Parts of the union have expressed a preference different to the overall outcome.

Yes, the question was binary yet the response was actually ternary.  The simple yes or no response was complicated by those that didn’t vote.

Did they do so because they couldn’t be bothered, couldn’t make their minds up or didn’t understand the question?  Should there be another box on the ballot paper saying ‘I don’t know’ or the option ‘I want is not available’?

Our form of democracy certainly gives a clear outcome but not necessarily a satisfactory one.  The public rarely want A or B.  Ideally they would like to see a mixture of A and B yet they are not given such a choice which leads to a polarisation of public opinion.

Not everything about the European Union is good nor is everything about it bad yet the choice faced by the electorate left us with little choice, a yes, a no or no say at all.

Nothing in life is that binary.

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