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Three Working Days

If I read the phrase “pour encourager les autres” one more time, I’ll... I’ll... briser mon ordinateur in impotent rage.

The only hope now is that Parliament votes immediately to reject the referendum result as having been secured under false pretenses and ban any PM from triggering Article 50, to take us back to the status quo ante-February. Yes, the UK would never be seen the same way in Europe again, which is true either way. Yes, the UK would have drastically weaker influence over the development of future EU regulations, as opposed to none if we’re in the EEA. Yes, we would lose some businesses to Europe, which is already happening. None of that is worse than what we face if we stay on this path. We’re three working days into this mess, and look at where we are already. Britain’s latent racism has already been unleashed. At least we’ll be fighting it out in the open.

David Allen Green offers a glimmer of hope. As he points out, oversight of Brexit has been handed to the Cabinet Office, and the Cabinet Office is where policies go to die.

Of course, if there is a Brexit climbdown at this point, there’s a serious risk that UKIP will end up as the next majority government in Westminster under the distorting effects of first-past-the-post. They just have to win the highest number of votes in any seat, not a majority of votes overall, and if they steal enough support from the Tories and Labour over a “Brexit betrayal” that’s entirely possible in too many places.

If the current Members of our venerable Parliament would very much like Britain not to slide into fascist dictatorship, they might think about passing a bill immediately to adopt proportional representation for all future General Elections and pledging never to go into coalition with UKIP. Reforming the House of Lords might also be a helpful.

 

I was in my twenties in the mid-1990s, part of a liberal, multicultural, left-leaning, global-facing democracy, and watched in horror as the national political conversation was hijacked by a minor politician appealing to latent racism, who entered parliament alongside a new right-wing government. Over subsequent years that government pulled the country more and more to the right, with hardline policies against refugees and worse. That shift is one reason I was fine with moving to another country for a few years, a few years which have now turned into fifteen.

Twenty years on from the 1996 election, the country’s racism is taken as a given in the rest of the English-speaking world; I have to accept this, and make apologies for it when it comes up, and defend all the good things my country has achieved, and explain how the dominant narrative in no way represents what I believe or what most of my friends and family believe.

My Australian friends and family.

I will never again put up with smug British superiority about how racist Australians are. The mask has been ripped off, Britain, and the face underneath is exactly the same. You are us and we are you. And America: be honest, you know you’re in this same terrible boat. There but for the grace of November 8 go you.

We have to fight this, all of us. Open racism is in large part a byproduct of economic conditions and media narratives which must be addressed, but first the very openness of it has to be challenged.

Don’t get all English and polite on us now. Don’t overhear someone saying something racist on public transport and tut under your breath, or shrink away in embarrassment, or say nothing for the sake of a quiet life. Shout at them. Swear at them. Get Australian at them. We can stamp this down, but it has to be now, and it has to be hard.

 

Excellent webcomic on the post-Brexit landscape and standing up to racism.

Case-in-point recorded on a mobile phone on a Manchester tram.

This poor woman has lived here 43 years, and her friends and neighbours have turned on her.

 

Despite the welcome support for immigrants from our First Minister, Scotland isn’t immune to the hate that’s been unleashed: Neo-nazi stickers have gone up all around the Clyde and Glasgow Green in the last few days. Edinburgh too. One reply to the first tweet warned to be careful when taking these down as they sometimes put razor blades under them. I was already thinking about whether to start walking around my neighbourhood with a spray-can to paint out any racist graffiti I spot; might have to add a window-scraper as well.

28 June 2016 · Politics

I’ll modify my entreaty to shout and swear at racists, or at least those who are being openly menacing to others in public; more experienced voices at combatting hate crime advise slightly different tactics, outlined in detail here:

http://www.unitedagainstracism.org/archive/pages/info30.htm

Added by Rory on 29 June 2016.


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