On more that one occasion since the UK’s historic decision to leave the EU, I’ve heard it said that the remain camp was just scared of change.
It’s an interesting hypothesis, given that whatever reason some people voted to leave, one of the biggest reasons is that many in the leave campaign didn’t like the way that the UK was changing, be that demographically, democratically or for other reasons. Change is a fact of life, in our workplaces or in our communties, it’s unavoidable and whatever the relative merits of each sides particular view of the change they prefer, it’s not the reason I voted to remain.
But there is a fear I’ve had, that’s been central to my support of remain and I’m deeply concerned that it’s becoming a reality.
It’s the elephant in the room, the thing no one wants to talk about and that’s xenophobia and racism. There is no doubt that many voted to leave based on their views about immigration and whilst I know that not everyone who voted to leave holds abhorrent racist views, I’d put money on the fact that everyone who does hold those views voted to leave.
I don’t want to fear monger here, talking down the UK with my ‘lefty, liberal views’, We will get through this I’m sure. We will suffer, we don’t know for how long, but now more than ever we have to roll up our sleeves and make this shit storm work. The public has expressed it’s opinion and whether I agree with it or not, there’s little point moping about it.
But on the same day the result of the vote was announced I’ve seen an unpleasant genie has escaped from its bottle. The dark underbelly of a particular section of British society that believe it’s now acceptable to voice their disgusting, racist views publicly, to the faces, or in some cases just voices, of those that are in some manner ‘different’.
An American friend working in the UK legally and legitimately, having paid his £2300 visa fee, and £700 / year to use the NHS, paying taxes and contributing to our economy has been told by the customers at his workplace that he shouldn’t be here.
Eastern European farm workers in Faversham being abused by thugs and told to “F*** off home”.
Jim Al-Khalili OBE, one of the greatest minds we have in this country and current Professor of Theoretical Physics and Chair in the Public Engagement in Science at the University of Surrey, being told “You should absolutely leave. What kind of Brit has a last name like Al-Khalili? Your people have a home.”
And that’s just some of the less abusive stuff that’s being said.
The reality of this toxic process is that these abhorrent, unacceptable views are now deemed acceptable to voice publicly, in the eyes of a disgusting minority that has been legitimised by the likes of Nigel Farage and his equally toxic and ignorant views.
And that’s the change I’m afraid of. I’m afraid that our society will change into something I do not recognise and have no affinity with.
Not of the many other issues that we will face as a result of this seismic event, but because I don’t want to live in a country where this language and behaviour is legitimised because “It’s wot everyone finks, innit?”. I don’t want to live in a society where it’s OK to abuse those that are here legitimately and contributing and making it a better place for all of us.
I know that this is a minority and I know that the majority of those on the leave side will find this unacceptable, but in my view it’s more important than ever to tackle this, to call it out when we see it and report it.
Let’s be blunt here, this is a problem that has to be owned by the likes of Farage and his supporters. It’s only those within the camp that can fight this and stamp it out since the problem exists almost exclusively within that camp. The extreme right wing migrated to that camp (no pun intended) and those of us outside can have little influence at its core.
It is my deep hope that the great majority of the British public feel similarly, I believe this country is infinitely greater for its diversity.
If we let intolerance and hate win, we all will lose.