Politics

Let’s make Britain great – not Great.

Britain

There must be a PR mastermind working in the Vote Leave camp because “Let’s make Britain Great again!” is a very strong slogan. It sounds good, doesn’t it? So powerful, so positive so…  just great. However, what has become increasingly clear over the last few weeks is that it is JUST a slogan because what hasn’t been made clear by the Leave campaign is in what way we will be “great” if we leave the EU.

Great is a term being used by Gove, Farage and Johnson to evoke images of a Britain that simply does not exist anymore, if it ever did. It creates feelings of nostalgia for a life that never really existed and never could. For some that life is the white picket fence days when people were friends with their neighbours, children played in the street, everybody knew your name at the local and there was all the cricket. For others, it’s the days when Britain was free to take anyone’s land and resources in the name of the “Empire”. And for a small, bigoted, but growing group of Leave voters “Great Britain” simply means “more white”. Don’t get me wrong, it is not fair or helpful to say that all Brexiters are racist- far from it- but to paraphrase Billy Bragg: all racists will vote to leave.

Of course not all the arguments for leaving the EU are about immigration. Some are about democracy. Do I wish our political system were more democratic? Absolutely. Our first-past-the-post system is hugely flawed. Only 24% of those eligible to vote actually turned up and put a cross next to the Conservative candidate last May. That leaves 76% of registered voters (before you even consider the rest) with a government they haven’t chosen.  This is more worrying to me than the fact that the Prime Minister gets to choose the EU commissioners.  I would accept the democracy argument had I met a Leave voter who was equally passionate about electoral reform in the UK and who also opposed the Head of State and the House of Lords being unelected.

It is an understatement to say that I am incredibly worried about the mood of the country, from the behaviour of the far-right hooligans singing xenophobic chants in France to the meteoric rise of Nigel Farage and his thinly-veiled racism. The fact that UKIP are no longer a party to be ridiculed but a prospect to be feared is mind blowing to me. How have we let this happen? Fear is winning and it’s breeding hate. Alongside that, there’s the arrogance that of COURSE we’ll be able to negotiate better deals for ourselves once we’re out the EU because we’re Britain- we’re great – who wouldn’t want to work with us after we’ve left in a strop?  To the rest of Europe, we must look like a petulant teenager screaming “I’m leaving! You can’t tell me what to do!” whilst the EU quietly recommend air pollution regulations that could save our lives. I’ve never been particularly patriotic but at the moment I feel embarrassed about that fact I’m British. I don’t want to have to make the choice but, if forced to, I’ll choose being an EU citizen over being a British one.

You know what I think would be great?  A Britain where the poor aren’t demonised and treated as scapegoats for the country’s problems. What would be great is a country where the interests and wealth of the top 5% weren’t considered more important than those of the 95%. A country where politics isn’t treated as a football match where the winner takes all but as a system that represents the people is serves. What would be really great is a country where MPs aren’t shot for doing their jobs. Or where disabled people don’t starve to death. Or perhaps a country where having a warm, safe home wasn’t treated as an achievement but a basic human right. Of course, David Cameron can’t talk too much about the fact that these issues have nothing to do with EU membership because they have everything to do with his Conservative government.

It’s not the EU we should be bowing out of, it’s the “Global Race”, which appears to me to be a competition to see which country can generate the most wealth for its richest citizens at the cost of the mental health and safety of the rest. Let’s forget being Great with a capital G and let us, instead, focus on making Britain a truly great place to live. A place that celebrates its diversity and is proud to be home to people of all races and religions. In a world that seems to be becoming increasingly hostile let’s set an example for others with our tolerance and compassion. Let’s invest in the people that live here by funding schools, the NHS and public services. Let’s make sure everybody has a place to live. Let’s not believe for one second that the reason Michael Gove wants us out of the EU is so he can finally give more money to public services he has helped destroy. Let’s build a reputation as a country of intelligent, rational people who care about others. Let’s celebrate our nurses, social workers, teachers and doctors rather than shaming them in the media. Let’s be proud that we’re so great that other people want to move here and call our country their home.

Let integration be our focus and the message coming from Britain be this: if you are tolerant, compassionate and believe in equality then there is a place for you in the UK. You will need to contribute and you will need to share our values but you are welcome to make this country your home.

Let’s not kid ourselves Britain, we’re not even great with a lower case g at the moment so let’s focus on that. If we cut ourselves off from the EU we could be left as a very rainy, racist, right-wing bit of an island with a cruel government who will be more powerful than ever before.

 

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7 thoughts on “Let’s make Britain great – not Great.

  1. Great Britain! For how much longer? If we vote Leave, which looks increasingly likely or even if we marginally vote Remain, Britain can no longer call itself ‘great’. To the rest of Europe, indeed to the rest of the world we are a small island nation trying to ‘punch above its weight’ by relying on the fact that once a vast proportion of the world was red and had the union flag raised above its houses of government. It then became known as the Commonwealth, nations of the world which were once ruled from England in the name of the British Empire. Interestingly, we never quite did get much of Europe. I believe in the middle ages our kings had bits of France but had real trouble holding on to them, like Henry VI! The wars fought in Europe on the soil of countries, which are now the main leaders of the EU, including two world wars in the last century, have been triumphs for Britain…or have they? These wars cost millions of lives and denuded the country of vast numbers of talented young men and women which has cost us dear in the years following these two huge conflicts.
    What we did do however was help Europe to recover after the second world war, at least, having got it so wrong after the First one! We helped to knit these warring countries back together, admittedly with vast amounts of money from the USA… but we also got that wrong in a way as we let the Soviet Union dominate the eastern part of Europe too.
    So which country is it we are wanting to ‘get back’ in the slogans which I see all around me in this county (Surrey)?
    I guess it is that Britain which once ruled large chunks of the world: India, Africa, Arab territories and the Middle and Far East, oh and America too (lost that one didn’t we!). Well good luck with that! Most of those territories now dislike us and have long memories of how we ‘enslaved’ or at best ‘patronised’ them. So good luck Leavers, I think you may find that Britain is not considered Great or even great and you will all find out just how much they will want to offer free trade agreements! We will all pay dear for our stupidity in voting to leave a group of countries which form potentially the richest group, as a whole, in the world, despite the Euro! But all of that falls on deaf ears as the slogans ring out ‘we want our country back!’

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    1. Do we ever learn from what has gone before us? Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece,The Roman Empire, The Colonial empires,The Third Reich,The British empire, The Soviet Union and now the European Union all have tried and failed to subjugate other countries and nations. There is a trend here for very good reason, people need their national identity. We have a duty to learn from our mistakes, this is not a social experiment.

      Britain, great or small must survive and hold on to its national identity, it has been formed by Greatness in fields of industry, science & medicine during the past, freely giving our knowledge and knowhow to nations that it is agreed our forefathers had plundered but we have to move on. We do not have to live in each others pockets and putting wealth before your country is extremely mercenary!

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  2. Billy Bragg’s statement that “all racists will vote to leave” is flawed as migrants in the U.K. who hate the British people and way of life but are here happily reaping the benefits of our system will not vote to leave. The migrant communities will not integrate preferring to nurture their own community and culture, so that in my opinion could also be thought to be racist, diversity tolerance & compassion is something which is lacking amongst most communities.

    In your penultimate paragraph you say “Let integration be our focus and the message coming from Britain be this: if you are tolerant, compassionate and believe in equality then there is a place for you in the UK. You will need to contribute and you will need to share our values but you are welcome to make this country your home.” this is not the message we get from the Muslims that block the streets around Finsbury Park Mosque etc. if only life was so simple, unfortunately the demographic of our nation has changed, it has been diluted to such a degree that we are losing our national identity.

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  3. What a great (and I really mean it) post this is. The whole IN and OUT campaigns have been seriously mismanaged. Most of these politicians look like bumbling fools even when faced with questions from specially invited audiences. I thought these guys were meant to be skilled orators. I’ve heard better arguments from secondary school debating societies.
    Don’t have a clue what either camp is on about. The best slogan ever is … Typoo puts the T in BRITAIN. That made sense.
    For the record, I am in favour of remaining. Anyway, even a ‘Leave’ decision doesn’t have to be upheld. The Greek people voted NO to austerity cuts only last year in their own referendum … the government went ahead with the cuts anyway and they’re still in power. This whole charade is just theatre for the people. Nothing more. Nothing less.

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  4. As always you manage to make sense of the incomprehensible. This is a truly Great post with a massively capital G!
    Tomorrow, for all our sakes we have to vote remain!

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