Who could blame them; has it been the cunning plan of Westminster Politicians?
Who knows, but one thing is for sure, when Eamon Holmes suggested to me live on air, that my explanation on how the Referendum vote could affect Consumer Rights was as clear as mud, little did he realise that subsequent events would prove that I was clarity itself!
We are now launching into what has been hyped by the media and campaigners as a make or break moment - they could be right, but my instinct tells me that we will have a great many more crunch moments to come.
In the run up to the Referendum, I was in and out of radio and TV studios to present the Consumer position and the risks to rights. At that time, when I worked for HolidayTravelWatch, we were aware that a survey run by that organisation, strongly suggested that Remain would lose the vote by a far larger margin than actually happened. What was telling however, was the fact that our supplementary questions demonstrated that Consumers simply did not understand how they got their rights and how Europe was important to those rights.
What we had in the survey was a decision to leave by a large number of those surveyed, but a clear lack of knowledge on how Europe benefitted their everyday rights. There is also a perception amongst Consumers that Westminster will put right what has gone wrong. I am a professional campaigner for Consumers and have met many ordinary Consumers affected by a tragedy, believing that their route to ensure that their experience is never replicated, is through Westminster. Their own experience reveals the stark truth; most Westminster politicians do not work to resolve such issues - there is a consensual ‘do nothing’ approach to serious problems rather than regulate to prevent it happening again.
If you don't believe that this is so, then one campaigner I know, working to bring justice for her children, has done so for over 40 years and still no politician has produced what needs to be done.
With this background, what has been striking is how when Consumers talk to me about their rights and the brexit vote, many are clearly conflicted about what to think, say or do.
For example, many say to me that to hold a second referendum would betray the first vote and this is both leavers and remainers holding this view (it is striking how many repeat he words of politicians - Consumer/Voter Conditioning is alive and well!). They often ask me what I think will happen next; I offer (and have done so since the beginning of 2018), that there will be a second referendum. Most react quite strongly but then I make a simple observation.
Leaving aside this Referendum, all accept that they take part in each General Election. They also accept that when they vote in a General Election, they do so either to reward the party in power or to punish that government.
I have suggested to each one I have spoken to that in a General Election, we vote for an idea or a philosophy that will make our lives better and when we see the effect of our decision, we sometimes change our minds and simply say; ‘yes, that was a good idea at the time, but it’s not working; we need to take a different decision’.
The next point to consider was the oft mooted statement that a second Referendum goes against democracy. My response is how do you define democracy; is your engagement with democracy limited to an occasional connection with democracy, or, do you believe that you should be consulted on all matters that involves the health of the Nation and ultimately your own-well-being?
When you put it like that, you can see the that Consumers begin to think about their own ‘belief’ in democracy and in some cases they begin the realise that their own practice of democracy is akin to making a distress purchase. But this is so in every aspect of our lives; I see this so many times on Consumer matters - being generally unaware of how the world around them and their transactions operate. We don't like confrontation and we tend to bend to an authority; this I have argued is why politicians can be confident that the majority of their decisions will pass without too much objection from their constituents.
My discussions have inevitably headed down the cul-de-sac of justifying no further vote, on the basis that there is deep anger and that there will be riots on the streets of Britain. My response is simple; I think that this is a lot of ‘fluff’. Some British people may well be angry and upset, but it is my firm belief that as a race, the British people will take any such development in their stride, but in return, they will want honesty, openness and above all, a State that will ensure the security and viability of the second Referendum.
So I have suggested that a Referendum should be no different from any other election or vote. In the case of the EU Referendum the people have learnt a great deal about the prospects of leaving the EU, let alone recognising that the whole campaign appears to have been manipulated and electoral offences been committed.
In all my conversations with Consumers, many understand the analogy with a General Election and how things are clearly different from 2016. I have said to them that I care not how they voted nor indeed how they would vote in any new Referendum. If they voted to leave in a new Referendum, knowing what they now know, without any real guarantees that their rights will actually be protected, then that is a decision that they will have taken knowing all the facts and the country would have to adjust to that new reality.
I think people are scared and somewhat annoyed that the very people who are supposed to make important decisions for the Nation are incapable of doing so. The people are looking for a direction and they are receiving none.
In February this year I commented on Westminster’s role and how there was a need to take care against this political cohort; we needed a Referendum.
My position has always been clear. The best position for Consumers and Rights is gained by being full members of the EU - there is no second best solution; no new nirvana.
Just to demonstrate the point on Rights; I was recently talking to a Consumer whose UK company had been taken over by an American company. When the Americans ‘arrived’, the first of their tasks was to try and change the annual leave entitlement of the UK workers to those of their new American colleagues, that being 14 days per annum. Naturally, the Americans had to be advised as to the law of the UK and of European Law and that task, happily for those UK workers, remains unfulfilled. When you read of the potential ‘new’ life of the UK, remember there are many American companies who would like to establish firmer bases in a deregulated Britain; how prepared are you to give up such Rights? This is the potential future that awaits; how many UK politicians have honestly and openly stated that this dilution of Rights is a distinct possibility?
I say to most Westminster politicians, you've had your chance and failed; it is time to return this to the people, with all the facts and the reality, so let’s have a Referendum worthy of the name!