The first version of this post was emotional, an attempt to be light-hearted, nonsensical at times and written by a woman hurt and torn apart by the decisions of 51% of the country. The truth is I cannot be light-hearted. I cannot fill this blog post with jolly anecdotes of my life today, I cannot be completely upbeat and excited. I am trying to be positive. To see the silver lining. I am hurt, but I respect the decision. Ultimately, I’m glad and proud to hail from a country where we have referenda and allow the results to be counted in a way that really allows all of us to feel that we had a say. I am reminded at this time that I am glad to be from a democratic country that allows its people to make its own decisions. Even if it all felt a bit Eurovision-y.
If you voted leave, I will not insult you, I am not here to judge you. I respect your decision, I trust you respect mine, I hope you had legitimate reasons, as I hope remain voters had theirs. I hope we all used our heads and our hearts when we put our X in those boxes. I hope our reasons were founded in respect of others, tolerance and by thinking of what is best for our country and not just ourselves. I cannot fault anyone for the way they chose and my primary critique of this whole debacle is directed toward the political system that sought to divide us. Sought to throw out messages, see how they’d work and then adopt them if they gained traction. There was no legitimacy or genuine meaning behind the words of any political party. The campaigns have been selfish, insulting and personal. Collectively, this applies to Labour, the Conservatives, UKIP and although my heart hurts to say it, the Green party also.
It turns out, that we live in a political world where parties will say almost anything for power. I know many people will be thinking, ‘that’s always been true’ and you’re probably right, but for me, this disturbing fact has never before reared its hideous head in such an overt and vile manner. They will spread untruths, misleading ‘facts’ and dark ideas all in the name of securing the mark of your pencil (or pen). They will pretend they regularly drink in some ‘working men’s’ pub’, they will pretend that they know what it’s like for ordinary people, the will say things like, ‘people have legitimate concerns over immigration’ even if the party they represent did not hold that view until the 2015 general election. They say ‘take back control’, ‘we’re better together’ – when really, there’s just uncertainty on any and all lines.
If you know me, there is no secret that I am an enthusiastic left-winger and I have never felt more of a disconnect from my country. I’m not in Britain right now but my culture, my accent, my values – or so I thought, were inherently British. At the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony I was someone who clambered excitedly on the back of the #ProudToBeBritish lion but today, I feel mauled and separate. I have been known to cry heartily at policies passed down by our government. But today, it is the system. It is all of them. Unfortunately, my favourite man in British politics, Mr Corbyn, let me down by not being honest with his opinion, my least favourite folks in politics, Mr Johnson, Mr Farage and Mr Gove, hurt me with their words of imperialism, of close-mindedness, and of hate. The Labour Party has been saying things like, ‘we need to change and listen to the opinions of the public’ and all I hear is, ‘we need to be more populist and more Conservative-Lite, because that’s how we get votes’. There is no concern for offering a real alternative. Only to be in charge.
The campaigns were centred in negativity. In the downsides of either option. There has been a distinct ignorance of the opportunities we were faced with following a decision to remain or a decision to stay.
For now it only seems right that we focus on the good. Of the opportunities we have following our decision to leave the EU. Let’s try to move away from immigration because the rhetoric used by our leaders has been out rightly xenophobic and unhelpful.
If you are an EU citizen living the UK – I promise that you will find people who welcome you, who appreciate all you do for the UK and are proud to have you on our shores. They are there. They are leave and remain voters. If not – give me a shout and I’ll be happy to thank you for coming to my country and contributing to our economy by working there, spending British pounds and for your metaphorical dumpling in our multicultural soup (that looks more like a primary school dinner divided into sections right now). Thank you for the businesses you have built, the opportunities you have created, the skills gaps you have filled and your presence in the UK.
If you need me I’ll be eating ice cream, hoping for Scottish independence, a serious and considered discussion with Northern Ireland, being wrapped under a blanket, intermittently sobbing, trying to understand the future of Britain and British politics.