UK politics is in a most bizarre state.
For the last 5 years or so, we have seen a massive turnaround in the way the country is reacting to our elected officials. From expenses scandals to never before seen global economic crashes to privatisation of the NHS to the collapse of UK banks to coalition government to austerity measures to food banks, it’s almost more crazy that we’ve kept going as a nation and not fallen apart.
I was never really a politically interested citizen. I was what would be called a moderate. I vote whenever called to, and would loosely follow what was happening in politics. Until things started going all screwy with the country and then I started to listen more to understand better.
And amongst it all, has been the perfect breeding ground for UKIP. They’ve been festering as a group for many years, but no-one really bothered about them because they were too far on the fringe, not influencing the national debate in any way whatsoever. But with the events of recent years, their voice has steadily been rising up, their views being heard more widely, and we’re now seeing and hearing more about UKIP in the mainstream media than I remember happening in many years.
As far as I’m concerned, UKIP are nothing more than a better educated BNP. They offer nothing of substance beyond claiming that immigrants are the cause of the UK’s societal and national problems, and that the EU has far too much control of how we govern ourselves. In my opinion, the only reason for their populism is because in the main the electorate is disenfranchised with the main political parties. I have faith that the UK main political parties will be able to win their votes back in local elections. The main remaining confidence I have is that UKIP control no councils and they have no MPs.
It all bothers me because it’s taking the UK national debate back to thinking which I believed was expired and only remained with an insignficantly small minority.
It bothers me because:
I am reminded more so than ever that I am a brown skinned UK citizen. Regardless that I was born and raised in the UK, have never claimed benefits, been working since I could, paying my taxes in full, raised money for UK charities, was educated in schools, colleges and universities here, become a school governor, regardless of all that, I am reminded that the colour of my skin matters more than all of that. How very base an argument. How very horrid and downright disgusting.
I am now mindful of where I spend time in the UK. I enjoy going to the beaches, visiting national landmarks, taking in the many natural beauty areas across our lands, theme parks and all sorts, and I’m going to have to consider if that’s where I want my family to spend their time. Why? Because although I’m as untroublesome as they come, I don’t want to be subjected to comments like “why don’t you go back to your own country”, when England is my home country, always has been and always will be. I don’t want my family subject to unfavourable behaviour because of the colour of their skin. I don’t want to apologise for things I haven’t done just so I don’t inadvertently upset people and make them think I’m not grateful for living in this country.
In day to day interactions, I’m now going to have to consider my normal and regular interactions with a bit more self-scrutiny because people now have it in their heads that immigrants are the problem, and I’m clearly not white. People’s implicit bias will already come to the fore influencing their behaviour without them realising, and now it’s in your mind that I fall into a category of problem people, I have to be purer than pure just to maintain a regular and normal day to day existence. Ugh. Cos people don’t have enough to deal with already, I now have to more conscisously make sure I’m not giving anyone a cause to be offended.
A lot of folks aren’t aware of cultural and religious differences between Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims. Recently it was Vaisakhi, the Sikh New Year, and up and down the country there were celebratory parades to commemorate this important day for Sikhs. I can now imagine that there were some people who would have thought “Oh God they’re taking over our roads, and I can’t get to where I need to be because of them”. I also know there were many who were not Sikh who enjoyed the festivities massively. And, just so you’re aware, every parade is supported by the local police, volunteers, local councils, with months of planning, and are the most peaceful and enjoyable of events.
It bothers me because I’ve believed for a long time that I’m equal. I have worked hard to be equal, and I contribute to be equal. But, according to UKIP, I’m not. I’m second class. For no reason other than I’m brown skinned. So I shouldn’t have the same rights. I shouldn’t have the same civil liberties. I shouldn’t have access to services. All because an ignorant group of people think that they’re being subject to accepting ways of living they didn’t choose.
I heart England and the UK so much. I have no desire to not be part of this country. I have every desire to be a fully contributing member of society, to help people live good and positive lives, and to support my family to grow and develop into brilliant people. I have only once been subject to overt racism and that was a long time ago. I don’t and never will cause offence because of someone’s skin colour, their beliefs, sexual orientation, gender or anything else. I believe in diversity, inclusion and helping the most vulnerable in society to live dignified lives.
I am everything that UKIP stands against. Not because I’m brown-skinned, but because I’m better than that and the only way they know how to stamp that out is by taking the debate to the lowest common denominator.