Friday, 24 June 2016

Pick Yourself Up, Dust Yourself Down (Reality Bites: Part Two) – Liz Kessler

After a night of disbelief and a morning of despair, I am picking myself up and blinking against the sunlight that is poking out from dark clouds after hours of rain.

And, cheeky as it might be, I am taking advantage of this still being my ‘day’ on the ABBA blog to post a Part Two.

There are things I need to say, and I want to say them very clearly.

When more or less half of our country votes one way and half votes the opposite way, neither side can categorise the other with generalised labels or blanket descriptions.

No one will benefit from accusing 17 million or so people of being either ignorant and easily duped or being racist xenophobes. That simply isn’t true and isn’t helpful as a means of going forward. Equally, to gloat in the faces of 16 million or so people who are suffering and despairing is not going to take our country anywhere good.

I personally believe that Nigel Farage is an extremely dangerous man who has somehow been elevated to a position of power and influence by national media outlets that have granted him a generous and comfortable platform which he did nothing to earn. But this does not mean that everyone on the ‘Leave’ side of the vote agrees with or supports him.

His image, as an affable chap who’s in it together with the good, honest, working folk, has been cleverly orchestrated, and he has used scapegoat politics to give people a focus for their dissatisfaction with the status quo. ‘Don’t like what those out of touch politicians are telling you to do? Stand up for yourself – and while you’re at it, here’s some immigrants to blame.’

Yes it sounds simplistic – but it works. It’s worked before and it’s worked here. But we have to recognise that NOT EVERYONE who voted ‘Leave’ agrees with his stance or supports those politics. 

So here’s a challenge.

To those who voted ‘Remain’, let’s shrug off our sadness and shock, and ditch our despair and depression. The vote has happened, and this is where we are. So let’s look around and see how to deal with it. Find allies, keep conversations going, shake hands with people whose arguments we have been opposing for these last few months and let's prepare to work with as many people as we can in order to be part of rebuilding our country - and thus still have some influence in how that rebuilding takes place.

There is nothing we can do to change what has happened, so let’s turn our thoughts to positive action.

And to those of you who voted ‘Leave’ for your own, deeply held reasons and beliefs, and have been angry at being castigated as racist and xenophobic – now is your chance to get out from under that label. Join with those of us on the other side in letting Farage and the rest of them know that you don’t support him. Work with your communities, support the immigrants you say you are not opposed to, and please, please, whatever you do, try not to gloat over your victory.

And yes, even those who are UKIP supporters - I am utterly, utterly opposed to your politics - but the country has taken a vote and it has led us here, and I would rather have conversations in a reasonable and measured way than sling mud at each other across a wall that is so high neither side can see over the top of it.

We are here now. We have to work with what we’ve got, so let’s do it with dignity, compassion, optimism and kindness. 

And maybe when our children grow up and take our world into their hands, there is still a chance that they will look back on these days and be proud – of all of us.

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Anne Booth said...

I couldn't agree more, Liz. I don't exactly know what to do - and if you have any ideas I would love to hear them. I am trying to post reasonable things on social media - and also oppose Mr Farage's form of scapegoating politics, (I totally agree with your description of him). I am glad that I have been giving workshops in schools on 'Girl with a White Dog' - I just did one earlier this week in Cambridge - and I will continue to do that - and I totally agree about building bridges with those who voted 'Leave'. For me, I might be able to do this via church things - and I will try to write letters and articles in the religious media too. This is a great post and please let me know if you would like me to do anything you hear about or organise.

Mary Hoffman said...

I'm sorry to correct you, Liz, but it isn't half the country but half the turnout, i.e. 52% of 72%.

It's still binding in a democracy but I'm afraid lots of people voted without knowing what they were voting for.

I know we have to get over this and heal but I'm not ready to. It's one of the first stages of grief and we need to do it if we are Remainers. It would be totally hypocritical for me to take this stance today, feeling as I do. I need time.

Liz Kessler said...

Mary, I totally respect your view - and I do feel very similar myself. Dragging myself to this position wasn't easy, and none of it feels easy to imagine doing. In fact, it was reading a comment from a fellow author on my earlier post that inspired me to write this one. And I guess writing it made me feel slightly less despairing. But I totally get what you're saying and share much of the same sense of grief.

Christopher Vick said...

'dignity, compassion, optimism and kindness'Is that really how we need to face the future, and is it how we deal with'them'; they, who have done this terrible thing?

*pauses, scratches chin, frowns*

...yes, 1000%. It's diffcult, of course - it always is, especially when we feel angry and savagely disappointed. But I agree. Finding and using such qualities really is our only hope. Pandora's box and all that.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Just a reminder,guys, of one thing this whole business has cost, apart from all the above: the life of Jo Cox. Only a few days ago and I haven't seen one blog post since the vote mention her. And the newspapers are referring to "victims" and "scalps claimed" and they only mean that this or that politician has lost his job.

Nick Green said...

Personally I would bang the table relentlessly and insist that a majority vote by people who (for the most part) did not have a clue what they were really voting for - being either wilfully misled by false information or simply incurious as to the real facts - is not democracy. It is an omnishambles. An ultrashambles.

Poor misled Brits are charging off a cliff yelling 'Freedom!' and the parts of the country that benefited most from the EU have vented upon it their anger at entirely unconnected parties. Wales voted to kick out the one influence that has kept it financially above water these past 40 years. The north east kicked out its biggest ally against uncaring UK governments.

A prime minister unseated. A continent in turmoil. A shadow cabinet resigned. No plan, no backup, no leadership. One MP dead. And it's only just begun.