Saturday, November 05, 2016

Politics of Nostalgia

I long for the days when Britain was Great.

It's true. 

I look around now, on social media, in the papers and I see little evidence of Britain's greatness. What I do see is fear, hatred, anger and unkindness on a level that is sobering.

The qualities that used to define greatness: kindness, generosity, respect and decency are fast disappearing. 

This summer 52% of the voted to leave the EU and what followed has been appalling. The racism and xenophobia spouted in mainstream politics and in the media is astonishing. Leavers and Remainers trading insults like whether Britain stays or leaves the EU is going to be decided by who gets the most burns on Facebook. 

My hand is up. I am not only a Remainer, but I'm a Remainer who indulged in a few slanging matches. I have good reason to be fond of the EU. My adopted mother is German. When I had a "proper" job, I was an Economic Projects officer delivering business development and support projects for local businesses, projects 75% funded by the EU. I was able to do this because the EU supported a telecottage in a seaside town, that hosted an Access to Higher Education certificate, which got me to university to do my degree that landed me my job.

After the results of the referendum were out a couple of Leavers messaged me privately and told me the reason their votes fell where they did. They were valid reasons. Reasons that have got lost in the midst of the Witch Hunt against immigrants. 

There's a movement that encourages solidarity with immigrants by the wearing of a safety pin. If an immigrant sees a safety pin worn by a stranger, they know they can sit next to them without fear. I thought about wearing that pin...and then I remembered...I'm an immigrant.

Not only am I an immigrant, I'm a woman of colour, a single parent. I'm working on the sexual diversity, but I'm too in love with Dave to be truly serious. I am everything that the rabid Leavers hate. This is the first time I've every felt uncomfortable going out and about in public. I live in rural Tory heartland. This is the first time Norfolk hasn't felt like home. And I miss it so much. 

The right-wing rags are only interested in their profiteering. Dear Gods can't anyone else see the irony of an old billionaire white man from Australia schooling the UK on what it is to be British? Kindness, decency, caring does not sell papers.

On Thursday, the High Courts ruled that Parliament, not the PM Theresa May can trigger the Article 50 to leave the EU. There are death threats against the judges who've upheld the law (and sanity). That's what democracy now means: the freedom to incite harm against the person who doesn't agree with you. 

I'm not saying the Remainers are any better.

How many times has calling someone stupid, illiterate, ignorant etc made the other person re-consider their beliefs? Seriously. I'd like to know. How often does disrespecting the other person bring them round to your way of thinking? 

Here's the thing, people don't listen when you shout at them.

I'd very much like to get back to the good old days. When you could disagree with someone's politics, shake hands and get on with sharing a pint in the pub. When people talked to each other with respect and listened to the responses. When Foodbanks were inconceivable. When people weren't expected to hold down 2 and 3 jobs to just get by.

The fact of the matter is people are afraid and rightly so. The British economy is truly up the spout. Tory economic policies have cracked the NHS and pushed the welfare system probably past fixing. The safety nets that used to exist aren't there any more and our local communities aren't like the Americas, where there's the expectation that a good neighbourhood looks out for their own. 

It's easy to blame the Other...but actually, it's all our faults. We've got us to this point. Silence is taken as consent. I'm not going to shut up. I love this country. It's my home. It's where I became an adult and grew my son. I am committed to being here. I will fight to make Britain kind again. I will fight to make Britain decent again, safe again. I will fight to make Britain respectful again. Damn straight.

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