Today, I am morose. More so than the riots we had across the UK in 2011. At the time of the riots I couldn’t understand how to help those who felt actively disaffected by the changes the government was sweeping onto them.
Today, the UK has voted to leave the European Union. I’m finding it hard to process, hard to help myself work through what I’m feeling, and feeling quite sad about what this means for our future as a country. I am British born, proud to be British, and have contributed in every way possible a citizen is expected to. And I have enjoyed being part of a union where peace has been the mainstay, and that we have grown and developed our collective ability to not only be more tolerant as a society, but also more accepting of difference.
And today, I am left feeling that those things are now less important and that those with power are fundamentally challenged in the mandate they thought they had.
I am concerned about the influence of UKIP on the UK scene, and I am very glad that they have no direct political influence in the UK. UKIP have one offical MP so their political power is far less than they would have us otherwise believe. But the rhetoric they’ve been allowed to foster and cultivate has driven many in society to forget that inclusion and acceptance of difference are important.
The ridiculous levels of argument and debate have seen experts reduced to nothing more than pains in the arse because their facts don’t match those of people who have a personal position. It is ridiculous because you would not question a doctor or an accountant or a lawyer on matters of which they know more about. It is their duty to be informed and to present information to helpfully advise others. When we don’t listen to those sound opinions because of nothing more than skepticism, we reduce our ability to be healthy individuals and increase our chances of being distrustful and end up acting out of spite.
People are sharing many reasons for the vote to Leave. This will continue for many years to come. My personal opinion is that we won’t know the true impact of this decision for at least a decade. Why that long? Because regardless of protocol, changes like this take time before those in power decide on how to act next. When they do, and things start to happen, evolution of that process has to happen. There will be implications and consequences that none of us can forecast at this stage or indeed over the next few years. The best that can happen is working a few months ahead at a time. Things won’t settle for years because there won’t be any certainty of anything for years.
This is quite possibly one of the most radical events of change we’ve seen in the Western world since 9/11.
What concerns me, more than anything, is the willingness by some in society to feel they have a voice for intolerance just because they can, and have less capacity for compassion and inclusion. Farage and UKIP have stoked fears amongst the populous like never before and are responsible for the negative attitudes held by their followers. They’ve long campaigned for exiting the EU, and now it’s happened, where will their attention turn to? Their rhetoric until today has been about the immigrant problem – and that’s not going to be resolved before we leave the EU, and certainly won’t be resolved for several years to come.
Which means their attentions turn to those of us in society with difference. Ethnic minorities are now at more risk of exclusion than before because of the rhetoric that had been allowed to be cultivated. The LGBTQ community will face abuse in a way that hasn’t been prevalent for more than a decade. Women will have a harder time to have equal status for no reason other than Farage and his white trope are mysoginists.
And that’s the problem with why we’re at right there. The Leave campaign has largely been led by white middle class men. In that group, where was the representation from the other communitities? They just weren’t there. And because they weren’t there, the Leave campaign couldn’t embark on an inclusive campaign because they had no-one to advise them otherwise.
I don’t accept intolerance. It only leads to people being ostracised, marginalised and made to be the problem. As much as Farage, Katie Hopkins and the likes feed on the fears of people, I know there are many in the Leave campaign who don’t agree with them or their positions. Some are good friends of mine.
I will stand for inclusion. I will lead with inclusion in mind and engage with inclusion as my heart. This is my stand. Come what may in the years to come – I will be known for actively seeking to ensure everyone has a voice, everyone has the opportunity to participate and everyone is included. I will stand for everyone who can’t stand for themselves. I will stand for myself, my family and my friends.
I will stand for inclusion.