After a bruising EU referendum, deep divisions within our nation have emerged, which have remained dormant but for a long time threatened to divide our nation. With hate crimes on the rise, our political parties engaged in civil war and parts of Great Britain clamouring for independence, our United Kingdom has never felt less united. Therefore, it’s no surprise that most of the runners and riders for Conservative Leadership – and our next Prime Minister no less – have claimed how they aim to unite our country under one nation. However, despite the rhetoric, there has been no actual plan for how we can achieve this, and with a lack of leadership across our political system, we cannot trust our current government to offer any comfort let alone hope.
Thus, we must take up the mantle and work together to forge a future that benefits all of us and unites us once more. But how we do this? What can we practically do that makes a difference? Well, maybe we could start here:
Stop the Mud Slinging
Ever since the Brexit vote, the most abhorrent consequence is how some Leave and Remain supporters have turned on each other; Remain supporters have too readily labelled all Leave voters as bigots and racists, whilst Leave voters have mocked the concerns of over 16 million voters and have been far from magnanimous in their victory. That’s not even mentioning the more ugly aspects of human behaviour, that have crawled out from under a rock since the Brexit vote.
To move forward, this must stop from both sides. For starters, over 17 million people in our country are not bigots or racists. Whilst I voted Remain, I know many who voted Leave (including my Brother) and I know they aren’t racist. They may have voted alongside a relatively small group of people who were driven by hate, but that does not make them racist by association. In fact, many voted Leave due to some of the same reasons Remain voters did as they too wanted a better future.
The difference is however is that Leave voters believed their future would be better served by rallying against the status quo, which for most – especially the working class – has left them behind. Therefore, branding Brexit supporters as idiotic and racists just shuts down the argument. After all, many Remain and Leave voters want the same thing; a more democratic society, a society that works for the majority and not the privileged minority and a society which forges a better future for our generation and the next. We just have to make the better argument and shutting the argument down through throwing around insults will not garner progress.
We often accuse our politicians of Punch and Judy politics, let’s not follow their example and show them how it should be done.
Stand up to Racism
Unfortunately, the Brexit vote has seen a five fold increase in racist hate crimes. This is unacceptable and does not represent the country that the vast majority of us are proud of. However, the sad fact is that parts of the EU referendum campaign have legitimised racism and frankly very ugly parts of our society have emerged that need to be eradicated. Therefore, all of us need to stand up to racism in all it’s forms. We have to show the minority that have these views, that they are wrong and -to coin a phrase from the Leave campaign- take our country back from this kind of hatred.
How do we do this? We call out racism when we see and hear it. If we witness racism and we feel safe to do so, we should directly challenge those who spout such vile hatred. We should report racist incidents to the police and take and post incriminating photos and videos on social media, showing how we will stand by each other, as this has already led to charges being brought against some of the hate crimes that have been reported. Also, we must stand by those in our local communities who feel threatened and unsure of what the future holds. Many of those who have been targeted by racist behaviour, are in fact British born or have lived and worked in our country for many years. These are British citizens and people who consider Britain to be their home under attack and we must show that we stand by them.
Demand a General Election
Many voted Leave as they didn’t want to be ruled and governed by an unelected, cultural elite in Brussels. However, the consequences of a Brexit vote has rather ironically led to the reality of being governed by an unelected Prime Minister who – along with a dramatically different cabinet – will be forging a deal with EU which will determine our country’s destiny. Already the leadership battle for the Conservative Leadership has become bloody, with Michael Gove staging a Game of Thrones-esque betrayal and Theresa May hinting that the fate of EU migrants already living in the UK will be, “part of the negotiation” between the UK and EU, which doesn’t exactly debunk rumours that she’s in favour of repatriation.
Therefore, we have handed our country’s future from one set of unelected, cultural elites to another, but this set of cultural elites are far more frightening than Cameron’s Diet-Coke Conservatism or the ineffectual bureaucracy of the EU. Thus, we must demand a general election before a Brexit deal is reached with the EU. If Brexit is to happen, regardless of your viewpoint, we can all agree that we need the best deal possible. Therefore, we need a government that will argue for the electorate of our country and how can this be possible if we are represented by an unelected leader.
If we were to have a general election, each party could lay out their Brexit plans and then we could vote on what we feel would be the best deal for us. Whether there will be any suitable plans represented to us will be another matter, especially with the Labour being in just as much disarray as the Conservatives. However, the country will at least be able to vote for some kind of plan forward, rather than press forward with a non-existent plan. That was always the problem with the Leave campaign, despite the promises they made, they were never actually a potential government presenting a post-Brexit plan even though they occasionally gave that impression. The only conclusion to draw is that we must have general election; so demand it.
Push for a Progressive Alliance
If we were to have a general election, who would really make a stand against the Tories, because currently it’s unlikely to be Labour? Instead the only way viable seems to be a progressive alliance between political parties to simultaneously stand against the Conservative Party and push for the best deal for the UK. After all, would it not be best if we had a cross-party team arguing our case in the EU; a team that more accurately reflected our diverse electorate.
Like our nation, our political parties are becoming more divided, whether it be the right of the Conservative party pushing for power or socialists facing off against the Blairites in the Labour party. These divisions could see -especially in the case of Labour – our main political parties split into two, which would mean their support would also split, causing either more hung parliaments – or more likely – Conservative majorities. To battle this, we must push for progressive alliance between parties; whether it be Labour, The Liberal Democrats, The Green Party or even the The SNP. They must work together to form a credible opposition that challenges the Conservatives and pushes for the voice of not only the 16 million who voted Remain but for the millions who have felt left behind by Conservative austerity and ever increasing globalisation, which benefits the few over the many.
Then if our political parties can show that they can work together, surely as a nation we can unite again too, recognising that many of us want the same things: prosperity for all, a stable and well funded NHS, an education system that offers the same opportunity to all and a foreign policy that aims to work with our neighbours to tackle global issues such as migration, terrorism and climate change together. Once we realise that we have more in common than which that divides us, then surely we can become a United Kingdom again.