Democracy has had the last word

3375650547_045f5be286_o

Flickr/Fe Ilya

On June 24 the World was awaiting the results of the nail-biting EU Referendum Election. The previous day, 72.2% of the British public voted on whether to leave or remain in the European Union.

I watched with bated breath as David Dimbleby announced the earth shattering result, 51.9% of our nation had voted to leave the EU. Time stopped. It wasn’t soon after, that the financial markets were torpedoed by the ‘Leave’ victory, consequentially the value of the British pound plummeted, the lowest it has been since 1985.

Inevitably democracy has spoken, but the question on everyone’s lips is ‘what now?’. For those 48.1% of us who voted to remain, we have a lot more to fear from the unknown. It is justifiable to say that the Referendum has marked a watershed moment in our history.

There has been a seismic shift in British politics, with the majority of London voting to remain in, compared to the rest of the country (excluding Scotland and Northern Ireland). It is with despair that I say that we are now a country with ever gaping cracks.

London is now seen with even more suspicion as it voted with a majority, for economic stability. We can no longer disengage from the fact that there is a concerning disconnect between the South, namely London and the rest of the country. There are those who criticise, that those living and working in the Capital, know nothing of the hardships of austerity, especially when compared to their working class counterparts in the North. Yet it is also true to say that London has been a City which has accepted the influx of immigrants and enjoyed all its boons.

Not soon after the results were declared Nigel Farage declared a ‘war’ on immigration, calling for June 23 to be renamed ‘Independence Day’, a victory for real and ordinary people. He said, and I quote, “today honesty, decency and belief in nation…is going to win”. So what about the other 48.1% Nigel? What about all those people who will inevitably lose their jobs because we have an economy that will undoubtedly shrink? What about the younger generation who trusted overwhelmingly that remaining was the best prospect for their future, one which now looks set to be bleak and gloomy.

Our decision to become part of the European Union was in part to heal the rifts and divisions born out of war. The EU was more than a mere organisation, more than a single market, it was symbol of peace. A symbol to show the world that we could move beyond centuries of division and work our differences out together, for the collective interest of all involved. It is sad, that instead of choosing the path of tolerance, we have now decided to turn our backs on our neighbours who once were our enemies.

Democracy may have spoken, but David Cameron still resigned. Yes, it may be three months from now, but given the current turn of events, we now have an even bigger problem on our hands. I shudder to think that we have given men like Boris Johnson a mandate to run our country. I am no lover of the Tories, but it seems like for many, a vote for ‘Leave’ was a vote against the establishment, and it has gone horribly awry.

This is not a moment to make prophecies about the future, though I have indulged myself in a few, however it is a cause for concern that as we head into the next few months and possibly years, we face an existential crisis, what is our place in society? With a nation divided down the middle, and with a likely second Scottish Referendum (possibly Northern Ireland too), on the table, we head into a dark future with disturbing possibilities.

Advertisements

Brexit vs Bremain has gone too far

27323692585_ac834ebb05_o

Flickr/Abi Begum

When did almost 53% of our society become so nauseatingly narrow minded? At what point did we start to justify prejudice, when did we start discriminating against our neighbours and friends and why has Racism become the norm? We need to ask ourselves why intolerance and deep rooted suspicion of the ‘other’ has become the cornerstone of British Politics in recent months?

Our elected representatives are fighting like feral animals, pointing fingers, crying lies upon lies and hurling insults. Is it just me, or has the entire EU Referendum debate brought to the fore what is base about our polity?

If you want know why I’m asking such a tirade of questions, look no further than Nigel Farage’s unveiling of the ‘Breaking Point’ campaign poster. When Michael Gove told Andrew Marr he ‘shuddered’ at UKIP’s Brexit propaganda, he can’t undo it now, can he? You cannot justify the blatant absence of any white faces on the borders of Europe (Slovenia, 2015).

Farage’s stance is starkly reminiscent of Nazi Propaganda branded about in the 1930’s, he is absolutely opposed to the free movement of people, and justifies his argument in the most barbaric way possible, by making a mockery of the refugee crisis.

Dividing lines

Undoubtedly since the hail of the Brexit campaigns and its counterpart ‘Bremain’, we have become ever more divided. Whichever margin of the debate you support, or even if you’re simply sitting on the fence, praying for a miracle that will guide you on June 23, our society has become deeply suspicious and paranoid.

In the face of what is set to be the most important and far-reaching decision we will make in years to come, why is the debate focusing on immigration? Why has the far-right been allowed to grasp the agenda.

It is far more noticeable, less than 24 hours away from the Referendum Vote that we are now living in a climate of hatred and cynicism, one that we have built! Doesn’t anyone else think that we’ve gone too far?

I apologise if I offend, but I just don’t buy the ‘English as a persecuted minority’ argument, one echoing Enoch Powell’s ‘rivers of blood speech’. Why are Brexiteer’s trying to con us with phrases like ‘Make Britain Great Again’? I’m sorry, but I didn’t receive the memo to say that we’ve lost our greatness in the first place!

After watching a recent BBC Documentary, ‘The Immigration Question’ presented by Mishal Husain, I feel like I need to respond.

I say this with the greatest respect to Mrs Chowles who is going to have to wait 15 years for a Council house to accommodate the needs of her disabled husband, but Brexit is not a silver bullet! Clacton, despite having unemployment above the national average, has relatively little immigrant influx compared to other cities in the South of England, it actually houses few people who were born outside the United Kingdom.

Where the problems truly lie

The truth of the matter is, that core issues with the NHS, housing, unemployment, social security and education can’t and won’t disappear overnight. They will be present on June 23 when we vote, and regardless of which way we decide to vote, we will wake up to these issues once again on June 24.

Unfortunately, Mrs Chowles’ determination to vote Brexit, and others also motivated by the same concerns, will undoubtedly realise that their legitimate concerns, have never been the fault of immigrants, rather the failure of successive governments to provide sufficient funding and resources to these areas.

If the NHS is stretched, why can’t we give them more money, more Doctors and more Nurses, don’t scrap the bursaries! If we don’t have enough homes and Council houses, then why aren’t we building more? If there aren’t enough jobs, are you sure you’re looking properly?

Eastern European immigrants are being exploited by British businesses who abuse their work ethic for low pay, don’t insult immigrants for a problem that doesn’t lie with them. These issues have little to do with our membership of the EU and more to do with the fact that during the 2015 general election, the majority of us, voted in a Conservative Government to run our country.

Immigration has never been, and will never be the problem. As a second generation British national, I am greatly offended by the divisive tactics used to scaremonger our society. In the face of threats like home-grown terrorism and climate change we should not delude ourselves that standing isolated is standing strong.

Unity is the bedrock of British success and progress; standing united with Europe is the only chance we have to fight the threats we face today. We all know deep down, that Brexit flies in the face of British values, values that countless generations before us have fought tooth and nail for. Why should we dishonour them now?

Don’t be impressed by nostalgia and notions of exceptionalism, let’s show men like Farage that we don’t need to succumb to prejudice and discrimination, that we can build a better future with tolerance, respect and unity, one hopefully within the EU.