I suppose it’s not particularly insightful to note that this has been a grim old year, and depending on the outcome of the US Presidential election it may get even grimmer, but the thing I’ll be taking away from 2016 is that this is the year we were told to shut up.
Specifically, the formulation goes: ‘The People have spoken, now shut up.’ I’ve heard it most often from the Leave camp with relation to the EU Referendum; anyone who expresses disappointment or apprehension about the result is branded a ‘Remoaner’ and told that the People voted to leave the EU and any dissent is sour grapes. I’ve also started seeing it with relation to the election of Jeremy Corbyn – those who express doubts about Labour’s future electability are told, ‘The People have spoken; shut up.’
There’s a long and noble tradition of dissent in this country, and it feels odd to see it being countered with the simple words ‘We won, now shut up.’ Eurosceptics didn’t shut up after the People spoke in the 1975 Referendum and voted to remain in the EEC, and if the Left had taken that advice a great deal of social justice, down the years, would have gone unchallenged.
But perhaps we should just shut up now. The People spoke last year and returned David Cameron’s government with a majority, and perhaps we should shut up about that. When the American People speak and send Donald Trump to the White House in a couple of months, perhaps we should shut up about that.
Perhaps we should all just shut the fuck up.