As Brexit begins with the triggering of Article 50, I genuinely fear for the country we’ll become if Scotland doesn’t leave the UK at the earliest available opportunity. Since the vote to leave the European Union the UK which had always been or so I was told by its supporters a green and pleasant land where people were in the main treated with fairness has become a very nasty place. It is no longer this inclusive union of nations which was I was told was tolerant of strangers and valued individuals for who they were and the skills they could bring to the table.
Of course growing up in the West of Scotland rather than Suffolk, Somerset, or West Sussex it is fair to say that I never bought in to this narrative and regarded it as a carefully constructed myth. After all with a background of Highland and Irish ancestors I knew about both the clearances and the famine and other atrocities carried out in the name of the crown. When certain people tried to remind me that these events were in the distant past and that people had changed and the UK had evolved since those times. I could at least listen to them without throwing up.
This was especially true when these people usually nice well meaning family friends mentioned standing together to fight and ultimately defeat fascism and of course the National Health Service After all as someone who a couple of impairments I value the NHS more than most and I wouldn’t be here today were it not for NHS staff who saved my life as a child and have fought fascism and other forms of far right politics since my mid teens in the mid 1970’s.
So why does the UK taking back control of our country as the leave voters so eloquently put it frighten me more than any other development in my entire political life ? Why does it concern me even more than the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States? Why do I think that Brexit represents the biggest threat to our human right since the end of the Second World War?
I have these concerns because the in the months since Brexit vote, there is very clear evidence that there has been a sharp increase in rascist and homophobic attacks throughout the UK and though those in unionist politicial classes who promote Brand Britain as a accepting friendly, and inclusive multi cultured country may be upset by this I am even more proud of my yes vote in Scotland’s independence referendum with every day that passes.
You see as a trans woman and a disabled person I saw the future of the UK when I cast that yes vote in 2014 and yes I will get smug about it because this nightmare on Brexit street is exactly what I said was going to happen when I campaigned for independence. I told voters about the dangers of voting no and that it would almost certainly result in us being dragged out of the European Union as the Conservative Party had promised to hold a referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the EU if they won the 2015 election which of course they went on to do and I had no doubt whatsoever that should we hold such a vote the majority would vote to leave.
To be fair, some listened to my advice and maybe even acted on it. More often than not however I was greeted and how do you know , or but Labour will win the election , or my favourite of union jackanory brigade, namely that, we’re too wee or too poor to be independent.
The fact that none of this is even remotely true seems to wash over these people who are so often categorised as small minded simpletons but instead of mocking them we need to be educating them that being afraid of change won’t stop it from happening.
It is this resistance even hostility to change which made these people vote for Brexit and vote to remain in the united kingdom when I voted for a more inclusive Scotland at the heart of a progressive Europe. The Brexiteer, like the unionist is a reactionary creature who like shouting people down and afraid even terrified, of those who challenge their beliefs. They struggle to cope with the modern world even when in reality they have known no other as I found out when I campaigned for a yes vote in 2014.
These people need our help, they often live in the past and cannot accept any alternative version of society which contrasts with their Westminster worldview. To way of thinking the queen and her heirs and will always reign over us and Westminster will keep us safe from the big bad world outside. To suggest there may be another way of doing things is in their world a dangerous and treacherous act even when they are presented with evidence of our abundance of natural resources and informed that countries, such Norway, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, and Slovakia all with similar populations to Scotland are successful self governing nations.
This seems to frighten them and desperate to cling on to what they see as certainties in an ever changing world they cling on to a fragile British identity based on a deeply reactionary conservative sense of nationalism.This explains the growth of Conservative support amongst the more entrenched unionist communities in Scotland and UKIP in England and Wales.
This support has its roots in what its supporters would call traditional values.I however have another name for their beliefs and that name is plain old fashioned prejudice. The attitudes shown towards people from other nations shown since the Brexit vote has been nothing short of frightening and makes a total mockery of those oft repeated claim about British fair play, and Britain being an inclusive country which accepts anyone regardless of colour, creed, or religion.
Though most of this anger has been directed at people from Islamic countries it is also fair to say that Europeans have also taken their share of xenophobic abuse from those who believe the headlines in the right wing press that ‘Johnny Foreigner’ has taken over a land which far from being green and plrasent is in reality grey and unpleasant and getting steadily less accepting with every passing day.
It is I think worth pointing out that this new intolerance is not just restricted to those from other nations but at anyone the Conservative establishment deems to be different. Target groups include disabled people, and the LGBTIQ communities who these people see as a threat to their values.As a trans woman I have experienced more hate crime and transphobic abuse than at any time since beginning my transition in December 2008.
Make no mistake I fear for my hard won rights in a post Brexit UK in which I want no part. I frar that as Theresa May brings forward her Great Repeal Bill which will give her the powers of a monarch she will go on a wrecking spree which will leave no corner of what we call British life untouched with workers rights , the Human Rights Act , and the devolved parliaments right at the top of her hit list as she aims to centralise all power at Westminster and subject us all to her Anglo Centric view of democracy. It is my belief that we are living in very dangerous times and that voted for Brexit based on a new golden age are going to get a very rude awakening. The fantasy of taking Britain out of Europe will have repercussions way beyond the limited imaginations of the Brexiters and I personally , see no way the UK will be able to survive the coming storm.
When historians come to write the history of these tumultuous years they will I am certain write of a period when Scotland gained her independence Ireland was united and brand Britain was reduced to shadow of its former self. When as, is their duty they have to look for explanations as to why this happened they will look at the day the United Kingdom ran away from reality and conclude that the nightmare on Brexit street was a very British horror and horror stories never end well.
Love And Best Wishes