Europe / Politics / Writing

Brexit – I get it (bringing back empathy)

After spending some time digesting it, I’ve decided I get it, I get why people voted leave. I don’t agree with it and some people should know better, but I get it, or at least i’m trying to.

For so long people have been told they shouldn’t have an opinion, when did we get to the point where we stopped talking about politics?

I recently watched Hairy Bikers “Pubs of Britain” where they talked about pubs having a debate room for politics, where have these gone? I hear the mantra that politics and beer don’t mix, it used to, so what has changed. I hear that people are fed up of arm chair politicians, when did posting memes become so much more important than caring about other people? We should all be armchair politicians it is ours and our childrens future that are affected.

But; we have been told to not have an opinion.

My parents generation were sent to separate schools depending on how “clever” they deemed to be, creating division of class. School was made to seem less important to those who went to the secondary modern schools, why should they have an opinion. In the modern world politics should be taught in school, why were the fundamentals of both British Parliament and the European Parliament not taught in school?

Politics has been banished from school, from day to day conversations, from life and replaced by a popularity contest and people not engaged with politics.

I was lucky, brought up in home where politics was the norm and I was encouraged to think for myself, to make my own mistakes and be guided.

I was lucky. I am not in a situation where I have been put upon for years, decades, I haven’t had family facing the risk of redundancy having their industries pulled out from under their feet, though in recent years I have witness first had the effect of public sector cuts on my career. I haven’t been subjected to the right wing press professing blame on the immigrants, a transfer of blame from politician, something tangible, something they can seen and blamed.

I get it.

But how do we change this, years of austerity and years of putting people down, how do we gain their trust? Marches in London won’t change this, we are seen as the elite they are fighting against, social media won’t change mindsets which have been engrained through years of poverty and desperation and where our frustration trying to get the facts through seems patronising, career politicians can’t talk to these people from Westiminster they are the elite.

So, in the immediate term we need politicians on the ground in the areas that are having the most disruption with assurances and deals on the table to show there will be investment in these places. We need to show that houses will be built and wages will be balanced. This, I believe, is why people like Farage are on the rise, they seem to be there for the people, down the pub, he gives the illusion of being “one of the people” when he is a well educated, rich, member of the elite. He feels like he speaks to the people. We need someone who is the left wing equivalent, who does go to the pub, who does eat a bacon sandwich, who at least seems genuine and not a patronising charade like David Cameron eating that Cornish Pasty.

The biggest challenge is how we do this against a background of uncertainty and the potential of more austerity. The wealthiest of remain supporters need to invest in the North, build bridges either metaphorical or physically.  The millionaire politicians who caused these rifts need to invest in the north.and in rural communities. They need to prove that they care about anything other than London.

Rural communities need to be the future otherwise all is lost.

Addition: there is one word that has been missing from our vocabulary and that is Empathy, we must start putting ourselves in each others shoes and understanding where someone has come from. We may think we have empathy but I haven’t seen enough of this during this mad few weeks, I have seen condescension, bullying, and a disrespect for one and other. On refletion, I have been guilty of this, through my frustration and people not seeming to listen. I still think we should have stayed, but now I understand. I have thought about the why and I understand other peoples frustration.

The article I read about Boston really cemented this for me, the frustration they felt reflects my own, and they were being called stupid. But this was their experience and they have been lied to and been left seemingly unsupported, no wonder they have been led by the lies.

So let’s work together for a better future. Let’s take responsibility and get Empathy back in motion.

 

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