The rise of hatred and intolerance in the UK since the EU Referendum, will the UK see a resurgence in far right politics?
June 23rd 2016 saw the people of the United Kingdom vote in a referendum to decide if the UK should remain a part of the European Union, however it appears that some people seem to think that as part of that vote they were voting for and against deporting anyone not born in the UK.
For the first time in my life I understand the fear my uncle talks about of being a black man growing up in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, when it was acceptable for a landlady to display a sign in the window announcing “No Irish, No Dogs and No Blacks”, a time when gangs of Doc Marten clad men with skin head haircuts would beat someone to near death for being a “Paki” and when the National Front and British National Party held rallies all over the country. And although there was a small but unsuccessful resurgence of the BNP and the growth of the EDL and Britain First I have never felt fearful on the streets of London as I do today.
There is a simmering undercurrent of hatred which is quickly coming to the surface in the UK with what seems to be a spike in reported hate crimes. In recent days there has been graffiti sprayed on a Polish Cultural Centre, an incident where abuse was shouted in a crowded tram, and the possibility of a container of accelerant alight being thrown through the window of a halal butchers shop in the West Midlands. Id grown up believing that I lived in a country that was tolerant of others and believed that if someone came here and was willing to work hard and be part of the country that we welcomed them with open arms, and yet in recent days we have seen people from across the globe abused by bigoted people who believe they now have the right to spout bile and vitriol because we voted to leave the European Union.
As the EU developed and treaties signed and brought into force one of the items it included was the concept of the free movement of peoples within the European borders. So this allowed people from within the UK to live, love and work in any other EU country and along with that the right of any other EU citizen to do the same in the UK. So with the vote to leave the EU people have obvious got it into their heads that we now have the right to suggest to people that they should go home, Okay then so we send home everyone who is from another EU country but do they believe we should bring back every British citizen who is living in another country? I know lets mobilise the Royal Airforce to fly to each country we have citizens and repatriate them, No I have never heard such idiotic thinking in all my born days.
It seems to me that this twisted thinking has allowed those with far right and potentially fascist views to believe they now have a legitimised voice to spew and spout their often monosyllabic views for all to hear and be revulsed by, there are reports that with the rise in hate there are people who voted to leave who now regret their vote because of the change it has brought in understanding and the rise in hatred. I do not condemn anyone who voted to leave the EU it is their right to vote however their conscience allows them to vote, but I must and will condemn anyone who creates intolerance and hatred in the society I live in. In some ways I hope I am sitting on a bus when a vile person attempts to vilify someone for where they come from, because I for one will stand shoulder to shoulder with them and defend their right to live in this free and open society which in my heart I do believe is open and tolerant of others.
I will stand up and be counted and join in solidarity with anyone who is being abused because of someone else’s ignorance and understanding of a situation. People in this country seem to have conflated the ideas of immigration with the status and need of refugees fleeing persecution and war, and this wasn’t helped during the campaign for the referendum by a poster from the UK Independence Party which suggested that the EU had failed us on immigration and that we were at breaking point, allowing people who believe there is too much immigration to believe that their views that people should go home.
To look at me you would think that I am white European, but I’m not. I am proudly from a mixed race heritage; my Grandfather came over during the Second World War as a Merchant Seaman from Sierra Leone to fight for this country and for the freedom of the European continent from the oppression of the Nazi jackboot, winning medals from this nation for his actions. He settled in Liverpool and married my Nan and sadly died in the 50’s leaving a young family. My family on my Mother’s side are immigrants too, we are from Irish farming stock that fled a country wracked by famine with the Irish diaspora who sought a better life in another country, so does that mean that I need to pack up and go home too? I would love to wager that most of the people spewing hatred who believe they are British born and bred have some French, German or Viking blood in them from the invasions of this Nation through the centuries. So then we call on people to go home how far do we go back, how many generations do they want to determine if someone is British.
We have laws in this country to protect people from abuse, we have laws which should protect people who are being threatened and I urge people if they are being abused to capture all the evidence they can so that we as a nation can hold these vile people to account for their disgusting behaviour. I saw on Social Media a campaign which asks people to wear an empty safety pin on their person to indicate to anyone that they can find a safe person who will support them, from today I will be wearing a safety pin as a sign that I am a safe person for anyone who needs my support. During the referendum campaign the leader of UKIP Mr Farage liked to use the phrase “decent, ordinary people” I wonder how he honestly feels about the people undertaking these acts, are they decent ordinary people? Can he justify the acts being perpetrated on truly decent ordinary people going about their peaceful and lawful activities who have every right to walk down a street in the UK without fear?
I now genuinely fear the rise of the far right in the UK; I fear the resurgence of the National Front and the British National Party who may believe they now have a legitimacy they lost over the years. I fear a country in which intolerance; hatred and vitriol become the norm and an acceptable state of affairs. I fear a country where someone is abuse for the colour of their skin, for the language they speak on a mobile phone or for the dress they choose to wear. I fear a country in which we allow people to decide to abuse someone else for the fact that they have chosen to live in this beautiful country. I hope that in the very near future that what currently feels like a political vacuum with no leadership on any side will sort itself out and ensure that people who are here legitimately can walk down a street in London, Liverpool, Newcastle, Brighton, or Edinburgh without fear of abuse or violence.