Written on June 23rd 2016
Today is a historic and sorrowful day. It is the day that the United Kingdom became a divided nation…
I acknowledge that there are some major issues on this small island of ours, and that there needs to be change. ‘Broken Britain’ is not simply a proverb but an actual reality. Society is struggling, it’s falling apart and its resources are being exhausted. There have been cuts to our NHS, Police, education, social care and national defence. Living costs have become higher, social deprivation has become more familiar and dreams of owning a home have become almost impossible. We have sold the Royal Mail, while adopting food banks, and our public transport fees have continued to increase annually whilst still being unable to cope with a simple change in weather conditions.
I cannot deny that since freedom of movement in the European Union there has been an influx of immigration, and this has changed our physical landscape and culture. My local English bar is now a Polish grocery shop, and this is not a unique occurrence in contemporary Britain. We cannot refute that a significant number of European immigrants have moved here and impacted on our way of life. Our public services and schools have been stretched to capacity, our housing has become scarcer; and at times it has seemed that the needs of those who were not born in Britain or closely affiliated with her seem to have been put above those who are. Often it has felt as though the voice of the average British citizen has become a faint whisper in the distance…
Yet in actuality it is our political and economic systems that have destroyed our society by causing a shortage in the resources that we need to thrive. The deterioration of our lifestyles has been triggered by the austerity measures passed by our Government. Over the recent years we have had to adapt to new legislations such as the bedroom tax which targets people on a low income, and which by the way was deemed illegal by the Court of Appeals, and is now being challenged in the Supreme Court using our taxes by the Conservative Government. We have seen cuts in tax credits, cuts to disability benefits and cuts to community services that protect the most vulnerable people in our society, while big corporations committing tax evasion have not been sanctioned and punished. And this lack of investment into society has caused our beautiful welfare state to become overwhelmed and ineffective. However the media blames all of these issues on mass immigration and our alliance with Europe. Of course deprivation and unfamiliarity lead to anxiety, uncertainty and ultimately fear. And fear is a very potent stimulant for anger.
Today’s decision shows the culture of blame that exists in our current climate. Much of the ‘Leave’ campaign focused on the idea of immigrants claiming benefits and taking our jobs. However I also think that this very notion discloses a culture of entitlement that has developed in modern day Britain, forcing us to question how these norms have been affected by our social conditions. There are definitely flaws in our welfare system, which fails to recognise the needs of the working class, and this has encouraged many people to remain on benefits for their entire lives. Often people are better off on benefits than working due to their social circumstances, job opportunities and financial legislations. This flaw has created generations of people with a lazy mind set and lack of aspirations, as they feel that they can get things without having to work for them. We need to question why so many British people refuse to accept jobs that immigrants will happily take. Why are white British boys achieving lowest academically? Why do so many people from socially deprived communities reject education? Is our education system effective? Are we teaching our children valuable life skills, such as financial expertise, empathy for one another, relevant cultural history and the importance of emotional well-being? Are we giving them hope? With democracy comes responsibility, and I think this referendum demonstrates the urgency and duty that we have to teach everyone with that right the ability to think independently and hope.
However as a nation I believe we need to hold our Government accountable for its role in the amplified levels of social deficiency, and question whether the cuts are really necessary in one of the richest countries in the world, or whether they are in fact a choice. Before movement in Europe became so fluid, Tony Blair forced us into a war with Iraq which cost an estimated £8.4 billion. This war led to the UK’s biggest ever public protest compelling 750,000 people to take to the streets of London in order to march against it; but yet the war in Iraq still went ahead. I think that this was a momentous occurrence, because for the first time in modern history the will of the British people was so transparently dismissed and ignored. At the next general election the anger and division that had inundated the country was depicted in the results, as we ended up with a coalition Government for the first time since the Second World War. This also marked a great period in history as it was the beginning of the downfall of the Liberal Democrats. It is a poetic story as they so unashamedly betrayed the very group of people who helped them to attain their power- The Students. Nick Clegg and his party supported the Conservative Party plans to almost triple University tuition fees, and with this knife they stabbed the students in the back, simultaneously destroying their chances of ever gaining power again. This decision changed our education system forever, further segregating us by class and impacting on the chances of social mobility. We then had the London riots, which demonstrated the physical manifestation of an angry, displaced and frustrated society. However these cries were ignored, and instead the media and politicians focused on looting and punishment. In 2015 our current government was voted in with only a 36.9% majority, and since then they have implemented further cuts to public resources while using approximately £508,000 of tax payers money each time they bomb Syria. We have found out about MP’s swindling expenses, the Prime Minister hiding his fortune in Panama, and the dog whistle political tactics used to manipulate the general public. We no longer trust our government, and they no longer represent us.
And with so much attention on immigration, and the emphasis around taking our country back, we have been cleverly distracted from the culprits who have actually stolen it from us. We have conveniently stopped discussing that the austerity cuts are a symptom of the recession caused by the banking system. We are in debt to the very banks that failed us, and in bailing them out we have had to endure financial and social hardship. Today the Bank of England announced that it had put money aside in case the UK endured financial troubles following Brexit. Ironically the very banks that got us in this mess will now bail us out of a ‘new recession,’ which they can suitably blame on the general public exercising their right of democracy. Desperation will give us no option but to rely on them, while they weave us deeper into a web of debt that enables them to take the country under their control. It is all part of a bigger agenda of world domination and control through finances, propaganda, fear and separation. This toxic combination leaves society in a constant state of anxiety. Fear sets us against each other, and we begin blaming people who have as little as us for the bigger problems. We are too busy fighting each other that we are unable to fight the system that imprisons us. By exploring these different layers we can begin to see the pattern that has created a voiceless, frustrated and angry society who crave some control over their lives.
It is such a pity that at such a historic time, the faces of Nigel Farrage and Boris Johnson are representing our beautiful kingdom. They epitomise everything that is not great about Britain. They signify segregation, fear, anger, hate and doubt. As a nation we are so far from that! In only neighbouring France ghettoization between the native French and ethnic minorities is visibly obvious. In America neighbourhoods are divided by race, and the discrepancies in the treatment between whites and blacks is painfully evident. In Australia some Aborigine communities are denied the right to purchase alcohol, contrasting to the rights of any other race that resides in the country. Britain is one of the only places in the Western world that exhibits a truly multi-cultural society and an advanced model of human integration. It is a place where people of different races, cultures and religions live side by side peacefully. It is a hybrid society infused with a multitude of languages, cuisines, smells, colours, clothes and music.
Today’s events unmask a country that has been divided by region, age, class, education and ideology. The aftermath of this result will affect not only us but our children, grandchildren and many more generations to come, as unlike a general election we cannot change our minds in five years’ time. I guess this is the bitter sweet experience of democracy. You have a choice but you may not get what you want because the majority wins; even if it is by a small fraction. With opinions so divided we are now stuck with an everlasting decision that almost half of the country did not vote for. It will be a period of uncertainty, immense change, adaption, trial, error and success. I have no doubt that this will be a challenge but we will eventually get it right for us. However we will only succeed in this if we unify. We are in it together so before we can even consider negotiating with Europe, we the British public have to make up with each other. We have to come together and stand up for one another. Because united we stand, but divided we fall…
• Court of Appeals rule that ‘Bedroom Tax’ is unlawful/www.cpag.org.uk/27 January 2016
• Families win bedroom tax exemption/www.thetimes.co.uk/9 November 2016
• Financial cost of the Iraq War/www.wikipedia.org
• How has the UK’s Coalition Government performed/www.psa.ac.uk
• Iraq profile- timeline/www.bbc.co.uk/7 June 2016
• Iraq War/www.wikipedia.org
• ‘Million’ march against Iraq war/www.bbc.co.uk/16 February 2003
• Osborne wrong: Britain bombing of Syria will cost hundreds of millions/www.truerepublic.org.uk/8 December 2015
• What’s the price to the UK of bombing Daesh in Syria/www.metro.co.uk/3 December 2015
• 2010 United Kingdom Government formation/www.wikipedia.org