What exactly are we voting for?
I have read some very eloquent articles in recent weeks about the forthcoming EU referendum. I have watched televised debates and spent quite a bit of time scouring social media to gauge the breadth of opinion. I have spent hours discussing the issue with friends and colleagues.
As the weeks went by, any attempt at coherent, reasoned debate was gradually abandoned. We were treated to highly unpleasant displays by high profile people who are either a) paid to represent the citizens of the UK or b) have some sort of celebrity status, engaging in a slanging match the tone of which has been at times more suited to the playground.
Increasingly, it was becoming clear that the entire issue had boiled down to the question of immigration. How you are either for it or against it. Putting it crudely, the pro camp in general acknowledges that immigration has been and continues to be a positive force that has created the multi-cultural milieu in which we live. The anti camp sees immigration as the cause of most of the country’s current problems, and persists in the naïve view that if we leave the EU, there won’t ever be any more immigrants and we will return to some halcyon former age when everyone was white and happy. This is the lie that Farage and co. have cleverly promulgated – just look at his repulsive latest poster advocating leaving the EU. He must be tickled pink that Gove, IDS and Johnson have done so much to expand the UKIP mind-set.
Back in February, Dame Louella wrote a blog on this subject where she expressed the desire that the electorate would be treated as sentient beings. The precise opposite has occurred; veil after veil of decency, tolerance, expansion and integration has been stripped away to reveal a very different society to the one I grew up in. It has apparently become mainstream to express views which are frankly racist. And then came June 16th, when the hate and fear that has been generated by this appalling referendum campaign helped create the conditions that led to the brutal, savage, senseless murder of MP Jo Cox.
This was an inclusive society; it was one I celebrated and was proud of. At the moment I am embarrassed and ashamed to be British when I hear some of the current views expressed. History is full of examples of the slippery slope where acceptance can be turned to intolerance and result in persecution. Right-wing extremists are always waiting in the wings, and there are many actual and potential despots in the UK, Europe and beyond hoping for a Leave vote.
We are quick to decry Donald Trump and his puerile battle cry of ‘Making America Great Again’; the latest reports of Trump rallies stink of Nuremberg – just read some of these reports:
All the Americans I have spoken to express horror and disbelief that Trump could have got so far; I have similar views regarding Nigel Farage and his cohorts.
So on June 23rd I will be voting for the values that I hold dear; I sincerely hope that the forces of hate and ugliness do not prevail. And if this sounds emotional, better that than bitterness and despair.
And because this no longer has anything to do with the European Union.