Twenty-sixteen will be a memorable year; one emblazoned on my mind because melodrama toppled pure reason. The annals of history will show it as a pivotal moment. A shift further to the political right. That was a culmination of years of blaming ‘others’ for the ills of the country. Those ‘others’ have included single mothers, the unemployed, immigrants, and Muslims. Nonetheless, right-wing popularism was not as overwhelming as the media would have us believe. After all Zak Goldsmith lost his Richmond constituency to the Lib Dems by a significant majority, and the Labour Party has the largest membership in Europe. So let’s not look back in anger at 2016.
Brexit 2016 Don’t Look Back In Anger
The media were an important tool in promoting a Brexit vote. The majority of press coverage, (82%) favoured Brexit with just 18% supporting Remain. In reality, foreign and non-domicile Press Barons sent the message that Britain should be independent and sovereign. That was until British Judges in British Courts said that the British Parliament had to see the plans for Brexit. The headlines then made British Judges the enemies of the people. There went independence and sovereignty!
Speaking of double standards, Nigel Farage, the former leader of Ukip, has a German wife. He also earns his living as a MEP. Nonetheless, he convinced people that their low income or unemployment was the fault of foreigners immigrating to Britain. Now, it is true that Australian newspaper magnate Rupert Murdoch broke the print unions. Subsequently, there has not been a pay increase in the industry for nearly 30 years. Farage, however, is not interested in the foreign ‘big boys.’ He is just interested in attacking the 13% of immigrants living amongst our population of 70 million, as scapegoats.
It would be unfair to lay the success of Brexit purely at Farage’s racist door. The Remain camp forgot to mention that Britain exports more people than any EU country. There are 4.9 million British immigrants unassumingly labeled ‘expats.’ Remain also failed to make a case for Europe. The Government and many people took the status quo for granted. Around 13 million potential voters did not vote. The gap between Remain and Leave was only 1,269,501 votes. Those uncast votes may have seen Remain romp home.
So take heart, it is not so much that Farage won. Rather, Remain failed to make a case for staying in Europe, and 13 million people did not vote.
2016 Don’t Look Back In Anger At Racists
Brexit has been a license for bad behaviour. There has been a rise in hate crimes since the referendum. The press has also fuelled race hate with inaccurate reports and bias comments. Just look at the reporting of child abuse. Headlines give the impression, as does Farage, it is a Muslim problem. They conveniently forget the extensive list of white abusers and the historical inquiry into child sex abuse.
The headlines encourage animosity toward Muslims. Yet, London overwhelmingly elected a Muslim Labour Mayor. In a country where the Muslim population is as little as 5%, that is a sound victory.
2016 Don’t Look Back In Anger at Trump
Donald Trump’s selection as the President Elect is a blow to the spirit, but he is an unpopular President. His portion of the vote was less than losing candidates, Mitt Romney (2012), John McCain (2008), John Kerry (2004) and Al Gore in 2000. So his Presidency, like Brexit is not the advance of the right.
While misogyny and racism reared their ugly heads, we can take comfort in the fact that more than two million people voted for Hillary Clinton over Trump. The Senate has also seen a record number of women (20) elected. Cortez Masto became the first Latina Senator in American history; Kamala Harris became only the second black female Senator; Mazie Hirono became the first Asian-American woman in the Senate alongside Tammy Duckworth, a double amputee. Tammy Baldwin is the first openly, gay Senator.
There is also cause for optimism beyond the Senate. Pramila Jayapal is the first Indian-American woman elected to the House of Representatives. Ilhan Omar, once a refugee, became the first Muslim Somali-American legislator and Kate Brown became the first openly gay Governor.
2016 Don’t Look Back In Anger
Twenty-sixteen is a timely reminder that if we don’t speak out then loud and often ignorant voices will take silence for acquiescence. The discourse has become coarse. It was a warning for what failing to participate could mean, we must speak up. It was also a rallying call. We must engage the people who feel left behind. So let’s not look back in anger at 2016 it was a challenge but not the advance of the right.
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