Finding my voice…

“Brexit is the will of the people. We need to get on with it”

Whoever “the people” were they certainly didn’t include me. Brexit wasn’t my will, I didn’t want to get on with it. There was nothing in “the will of the people” that acknowledged the people who voted remain: presumably we’d all mass-converted to the cause of Brexit.

Nevertheless I maintained my stance of Remain but was frustrated by the response:

“You’re anti-democratic”
“You lost. Accept it.”
“Remember it’s the will of the people”

I circled round and round the same arguments, finding few people who felt Brexit should be challenged. Seeing gulfs emerging over political differences I stopped discussing Brexit with friends and family.

When the spectre of no deal emerged I wrote to my MP imploring her not to vote for it, and represent the best interests of her constituents. Her response contained the words, “the will of the people.”

I felt despondent, unrepresented and isolated. Brexit was an inevitability, and my views were wrong.

I decided to make my feelings known in the council elections, but my town council ballot paper offered:

Despairing, I stared at the paper then scrawled “STOP BREXIT” across it, folded it, dropped it in the ballot box and marched out of the polling station.

When the results were announced the following day it was noted that a significant number of ballot papers had been spoiled. “These spoiled ballots show that the British people want to get on with Brexit” blared the news. I think I actually put my head in my hands in that moment. Nothing I did mattered.

Scrolling through Twitter I saw a post from Ed Davey, exhorting people to vote for their local Lib Dem candidates. I responded “it’s a bit hard to vote for you when you aren’t on the flipping ballot.”.

The responses I received were incredible: sympathy from Ed and an acknowledgement that more candidates were needed, messages from party members encouraging me to sign up, get involved, maybe even stand. I realised two things in that exchange: 1. I was not alone. 2. I could do something to help.

So I joined the Lib Dems. I was warmly welcomed, and immediately involved. I started helping out with canvassing and leaflet dropping. I met new people via social media and through regional events. I started to consider standing as a candidate and found more people eager to point me in the right direction. I started speaking up again and found, unexpectedly, that some of my friends and family were interested in following my journey and what I had to say. My voice was heard, and more than that, I could make a difference.

So here I am today, and this is what membership of the Lib Dems means to me: Being part of a community of people who are supportive and take action when things aren’t right, who helped me find my voice again and use it.

* Emma Hunneyball is a new member of the Liberal Democrats.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Mick Taylor 29th Jul '19 - 8:46am

    Welcome Emma.
    Do go and stand for your local council. You will enjoy it and be able to serve your local community. I first got elected at 23!

  • Sue Sutherland 29th Jul '19 - 1:09pm

    Thank you for joining us and getting stuck in Emma. Your voice is great- both clear and passionate – so please stand at whatever level in the party you wish, get all the training the party offers and fight for what we believe in.

  • Congrats on joining the Lib Dems and contributing an Op Ed. Marginalisation of Remainers has been a big problem ever since the referendum, I wrote about it a couple of years ago under the title, “Remainers must not be silenced”:

    The plight of Remainers carries echoes also of the shabby treatment of conscientious objectors in the First World War, dramatised in an excellent BBC radio play by Gordon McKerrow. You can listen to it here:

    The same accusations of being unpatriotic, of being traitors etc are unfortunately being seen again as we go to war with the EU.

  • What a brilliant article! Welcome Emma. And please continue to get involved – you are exactly the sort of person we need to be driving the party forward.
    As for being a LibDem voter with no LibDem candidate to vote for, I totally identify with this. I’ve been there myself, and as you say it’s so frustrating.
    Now, a question to you – and to all members: Have you done any phone canvassing yet to help Jane Dodds win Brecon and Radnorshire on Thursday? It’s really easy – you can do it from home! Spend an hour or so between now and Thursday and you could make all the difference. Here’s how: – they’ll take you through how to do it, and it really is easy when you get started. Quite good fun too, talking to real people.
    Seriously, please do it. It’s so important. We could have a brilliant new woman MP on Friday. Or we could be in the misery of a North East Fife situation (losing by 2 votes) – and seeing Boris strutting about in triumph!! Please let’s all hit those phones.

  • Peter Hirst 30th Jul '19 - 6:05pm

    Those who espouse “The will of the people” are probably potential tyrants preferring direct democracy to the representative sort. You only have to win one election either a referendum or presidential election by whatever means and you have a clear path to do what you want, unencumbered by elected representatives who are actual people and might think for themselves. I now better understand those who dislike referendums.

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