Dear Children and Young Adults of the UK,
Today it feels as though we’ve never been more divided. There is no unity in this kingdom today.
I have a lot of feelings about the EU Referendum, and I haven’t been shy about them. The crux of it is though that the sheer amount of misinformation, and now, as it turns out, outright lies the Leave campaign spread like a disease through the country have done what they were supposed to do. It convinced people to take a side.
We’ve already seen the numerous television segments where people say they voted Leave to put the frighteners on the Government, to make themselves known, to be heard. People saying they didn’t think their vote would count, that they wanted to prevent Remain from winning with a too-large margin, as a kind of protest. People saying they wish they could take it back, now in the cold light of what it really means, like this is a computer game, and they get another life. The Government have worked very hard in the last six years to widen the gap between the wealthy and the poor, and to limit social mobility as far as they can. Their people have screamed for help and been ignored.
And this is what they’ve got for it. What we’ve all got, for it.
The coming days, weeks, months, and years will be painful for all us if the decision to leave the EU goes ahead. There will be cuts across the board, there will be job losses. More poor people will starve, more vulnerable people will die. There will be uncertainty, and division. Perhaps ultimately we will rise, phoenix-like, from the ashes of the past year.
Not all of us will, though. Our Brave New World will be built on the bones and blood of those we’ve already thrown under the bus for this, and those we will throw still, as this gets harder and harder, before we see any respite.
And the people that will suffer the most are the young. You. The under-eighteens, who almost universally didn’t want this and will now have to bear it, their whole lives. The decisions some of their parents, uncles, aunts, and grandparents have made mean they will no longer have the right to live and work across the EU. That falling in love with someone from the EU will now come with a host of anxieties about visas, and proving the love is real. That ‘fence’ of UK for the UK not only keeps migrants out, but keeps us all in.
We don’t know what the larger impact will yet be, beyond this one very simple fact, but it will be our children who suffer for it. Whatever impact on imports, exports, economy, ecology, health, welfare, education, it is our children we’ve sacrificed to once again placate the arrogance of those who ‘know better’.
There’s a part of me – a big part, creature of rage that I am – that wants to encourage our youths to rise up and wreak havoc. To scream and beat their chests and fight for the future that’s being snatched from them while they watch, unable to stop it. There’s a lot of Mars in me, an urge for vengeance and justice and in this – something I personally feel is so incredibly unjust – I want to hand them the matches and toast marshmallows while they burn it down. The fury I felt this morning could have powered the country, when I realised what had been lost – stolen – from our young people.
But hate begets hate, and no one ever really wins a war. And I like to win.
So, my urging is that we play the long game. Children, you will outlive those who’ve brought this decision to bear. One day, in the not-distant future, they will be at your mercy. You will be the law makers, the game-changers, the policy-shapers. You will have the keys to the kingdom in your hands. You will be able to define the care they get, the money they receive, the taxes on them.
Have mercy where they did not, could not, would not.
Have mercy on the people who thought only of themselves when they made this choice.
Don’t repeat their mistakes – for everyone’s sake, don’t be selfish, petty, spiteful, ignorant, afraid, uninformed, or anything else that has brought us to this point. Despite this, keeps your hearts and minds open and know that you can do better, that you will do better. That the mistakes that have been made these past few months can be mended, you will have to be the ones to do it. And I firmly believe there’s no better people for the job.
Know that a lot of us are very sorry for landing you in this shit.
And know that I, and quite literally everyone I know, stand with you in this. We will try and make the road going forward as smooth as we can. If we can clear the shit from the paths before you have to tread them, we will. I promise you that.
We will keep listening to you, and creating the art you love. Now more than ever we will keep writing stories of young people coming together and changing the world, fighting sexism, homophobia, racism, oppression, and tyranny. We will continue to call for diversity, and champion BAME contributors, champion Own Voices. We will continue to make you the stars of our show, across every spectrum, embracing everyone. We will continue to focus all of our abilities on inspiring and entertaining and supporting you.
The naysayers say YA is soft, and silly, and frivolous. They think we write stories that are fantastical, and fluffy, and impossible. They don’t take us – or you – seriously. They never have.
Let’s prove them wrong. Because if anyone can make this broken mess of a realm great again, it’s you. Have courage. We will get there.