Definitely heightened since the election results, I feel disillusioned, flat and kind of insular. What fucking direction is this country and the world heading in? It seems so obvious and clear now more than ever, that the people and ‘assets’ of the UK, Britain, England, whatever we’re calling it, are just tools to be used, manipulated and held by a class of men and to a lesser extent women, who view British society as nothing more than a corporation which exists to benefit them, their benefactors and their class peers. They’ve made public service just a by-word for leach. They view the public realm as nothing more than a pitiful hangover from WWII victory euphoria. The sooner it can be all sold off subprime to their mates and subsidiaries in the City of London and its worldwide off-shoots, the better.
It feels like Thatcher’s ‘Loads a money’ is back, but he’s now attended Oxford and has been fully integrated into the establishment. He believes that he’s a genius. Eyes fixed upon a portrait of Thatcher hanging in his study and with that smarmy grin, he’s spent the last twenty five years masturbating all over his ideology so that now it’s a giant, pulsating glob, binding to it everything it desires. It’s already inching its way over the walls of hospitals, health centres and related service centres. There’s no ignoring the fact that it has the NHS in its sights. It smells billions in treasure to be ransacked and sold off cheap at auction with those lost services to be reclaimed by only those who can pay the price or pay the premiums.
Ideology masked as necessity is infecting all areas and possibly no more so that in the narrative of the ‘nation’. Britain or England has always been a minefield of myths, partial truths and vested interests. The self-proclaimed ‘true British’ or ‘true English’ are always eager to define those who belong and those who belong outside, geographically, culturally and racially. Today, more so than before, it feels as though we’re on new uncharted ground which seems to be creating even sharper boundaries and divisions.
Seemingly, gone is the threat of the foaming BNP thug and his black-booted, runic version of Britannia. Now in his place there’s a real ale, public school, stockbroker belt version. Although he expresses a distrust and distance from his continental counterparts, in truth he just hates the fact that he’ll always be a bit part player in a continental union of which Germany will always rule and in which France will always be second. And so he sulks while he hatches an ill thought out revenge plot in some smoky, leathery private members club. His cherished solace is the myth of a transatlantic ‘special relationship’ and his secret dream of resurrecting some kind of economic and cultural version of the ‘Old Commonwealth’ in which the British motherland can again extend its smug superiority to its now estranged sons and daughters.
Out on the streets, in the comments section, in academies, supermarkets, chain pubs, call centres, offices and warehouses, these fantasies finds voice in cries to leave the EU, in sending troops to Calais, in stopping “swarms of human vermin” from taking this way too overly generous nation for a “soft touch” and in demands to “Leave em to drown in the Med!” Drip fed by mainstream media outlets twenty four seven, dark foreigners and refugees are just leaching ‘economic migrants’ or dangerous criminals in need of repatriation or much worse.
In this climate, non-white Britons become a fifth element eroding ‘British values’ from the inside and even plotting its violent overthrow and destruction. Muslims appear to be biggest threat No 1. Their culture is medieval and has no place in the West. They’re sexually repressed and they’re outbreeding native Britons; it’s all part of their plan to take over the world, just read the Koran! Eastern Europeans are taking jobs and cutting wages or doing a spot of human trafficking on the side. Blacks, well they’re just natural criminals who are violent and have no self-discipline. Some of them can sing, dance, play sport and present youth TV, but they need to be heavily policed because at the end of the day they’re just dangerous. The Chavs are no better either really. The Scots are ungrateful (and inferior), spendthrift upstarts who are going to regret even thinking about breaking up. And as for Europe, they can go to hell because we’re British, sorry English and we’re better than everyone, (apart from WASP Americans if we’re being truly honest).
Sarcasm aside though, arguably many Britons of all shades and backgrounds share a lot of these very sentiments. There’s nothing more depressing than hearing an old acquaintance, family member, or someone from a background that you would hope meant they knew better, echo such fictions. Maybe I’m just more attuned to it, but I seem to be hearing them more so than ever before.
Malcom X said that if you’re not careful the media will having you hating the people who are oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. This is exactly what it feels like. No one can be fed a constant narrative of the UK that is marked by immigration scare stories, benefit scrounging scum, black criminality, Muslim terrorism, ‘fat cat’ public sector pensions, EU Britain haters, left-wing loonies and so on without it all actually having an effect. Yes, as individuals we do reflect upon personal experience and weigh up the ‘facts’ and evidence and that’s exactly what many of the public believe they’re doing. They see themselves as the ones who really know the score, as though their own smartness has awakened them to the lies of the “liberal elite”. They believe themselves to have their head’s screwed on because their mortgage, job and Experian credit rating says so.
These opinions masquerading as facts have become mainstream discourse no thanks to the powerhouse of the media. This isn’t a far off conspiracy theory, it’s just the way things are set up. It’s simply the interests of millionaire politicians and their multi-millionaire media buddies and billionaire CEO friends shaping the stories, the conversations, aspirations and fears of whole sections of society. And it works. For many people, it leaves them with a fatalism that nothing can change and so why fight it? It breeds a “get with the programme” attitude and a, “if you can’t beat em join em” mentality which longs to get ahead and which leaves those pointing out the fallacy of it all, looking like green hippy dreamers, communists, anarchists or just sad losers.
However, inevitably as in all dark times, out of the daze comes a fightback. People shake off their apathy and use their anger to assert their stance and do something positive. A Corbyn inspired opposition movement offers at least some hope. Anonymous, Occupy, Black Lives Matter, London Black Revs and Syriza also. Hearing about how personal friends and others have verbally and physically defended ‘immigrants’ from attacks when they could have walked on, inspires deeply. And seeing that there are decent, conscious people all over Europe and beyond who are trying to welcome and help refugees who are fleeing what must be hell, (abject poverty as well as military conflict must also be hell), reminds you that this world isn’t just full of cold, twisted, aggressive fools.
And so, gradually, little by little you remember that despite of all this bitterness and bigotry, this Tory/UKIP nightmare does not truly represent Britain or the ‘British people.’ Tory/UKIP Britain is just a myth that is being built upon the paper cards of greed, snobbery, racism and fear. For me and countless others, this Daily Mail/Policy Exchange plc is not my home and I will not let it become my home. Theirs is not the place that on reflection has the power to make me feel glad that I was born here. And this isn’t the place that I find myself reluctantly defending whenever I go abroad and get into conversations with people about the UK. The Britain that I know, the Britain that I need to tell the world about just isn’t spoken about loudly enough. And for some, sadly, maybe it isn’t even known.
My Britain is not the Queen and the Royal family, it’s not Waterloo, The Proms, Churchill or the City of London (although all these are inescapably also part of Britain). My Britain may have possibly began with Stonehenge, Boudicca and Septimus Severus. My Britain is made up of the men and women of the peasant revolts, and of the port cities who protected and sheltered runaway slaves. My Britain is Mary Seacole. It’s the Victorian workhouse, factory workers, coal miners, agricultural workers and Trade Unionists. My Britain is the soldiers and servicemen and women, like my Bajan granddad who fought and defeated Nazis and Fascists. And it’s also those who continue to serve in order to escape a life as a ‘scrounger’ or precariat, so they can send a wage to their family and build a life for themselves, but who find themselves homeless, disabled, unwanted and forgotten after they’ve been used to secure more oilfields or prop up or depose another murderous regime.
My Britain is made up from the artists, musicians, workers, suffragettes, free thinkers, duckers and divers, feminists, warriors, risk takers and freaks who have always had the strength to stick two fingers up at the establishment and status quo. It’s those 70’s crew cut warrior kids, black, white and brown skanking together to the sounds of Reggae and Two Tone. Its youths growing up from all corners of the old empire and beyond, standing together side by side and learning from each other. It’s those beautifully strong girls who put up with the disapproving looks and sly comments for going out with someone who doesn’t look “proper English”. It’s those who work hard not just to get rich, but who do their job to the best of their ability and who try to actively help improve the lives of as many people as they can. It’s the Anti-Austerity, Deaths in Police Custody, Operation Yewtree, Environmental, Affordable Housing, Drug Legalisation activists, victims and protesters. My Britain is the happy go lucky, help someone out man or woman who simply wants to get on with their life but who cannot stomach ignorance, injustice or negativity. And my Britain is the home to those who just want to laugh, dance and party all night long, celebrating life together as one family throughout multi-tone Britain and the world.
And so, in the midst of what sometimes feel like a juggernaut heading at full speed off a bridge, we fight back and seek hope. We envision better ways of living together and to express our relationship(s) to and with our local and wider community. We’re repulsed by an economic, political and cultural caricature of our home that is alien and serves no purpose other than to divide in order to enrich a chosen few. Rather than sit by and just moan about it we want to do something positive. We want to do whatever we can no matter how small or insignificant it may seem to us.
Therefore in the next few upcoming blogs posts, I’m going to express my point of view and outline the arguments for my alternative Britain. I have to do this. It feels like just sitting quietly and letting this crap go by is either going to turn me into a recluse, might possibly cause a nervous breakdown, or worst of all, will eventually turn me into a “just get with the program” drone, focused on just getting mine. Hopefully, through airing my own thoughts and opinions this will not only help me through these worrying times, but it might also allow others to articulate their own thoughts and ideas. Maybe through this process, together, we might envisage and build a Britain that we can all feel part of and inclusively proud of.