Over 30 yrs ago I joined an Anti Nazi League rally in Brighton protesting against a National Front march taking place around the town and ending up at the Level, an area of flat parkland where once Oswald Mosley's followers were defeated by anti-fascists.
To be honest I was a bit scared in case things kicked off and there was violence so myself and friends hovered around the back of the large group of people amassing to protest. I already had my eye on a good exit strategy in case things went awry. There were many police and police vans around the Level adding to the feel of danger.
Eventually we heard the National Front march coming. First some police vans then we heard shouting and chanting. As one we started to chant back... until finally the sound from the front tailed off.. just the noise of a few yobs shouting! The National Front march consisted of about fifteen moronic looking skinheads trying not to look intimidated. The crowd dissolved and we all went to the pub. I felt that to some extent all the Anti-nazi protest had been counter-productive giving too much credence to these pathetic kids.
And today it struck me as we are doing the same thing. The various political parties and the media allowed Brexit to be hijacked by the likes of Gove, Johnson and Farage giving them and their repellent views far too much credence and leading to Jeremy Kylestyle debates to the exclusion of some of the more intelligent discussions that were never had. I just heard a farmer who said he had voted "leave" entirely because of the amount of paperwork the EU forced him into - I am sure he is not alone in that. I don't know whether he was correct to feel that way and I certainly heard nothing on the substantial amount of coverage I listened to, that might have explained whether he would be better off in or out of the EU.
Out of the people who voted for Brexit how many voted entirely on the immigration issue? And out of those how many are actually racist? As a percentage of the population not that many, otherwise Farage would have held his seat in Thanet.
So we are Brexitting and many people are unhappy and many are still making it all about racism. Today the BBC turned up with glee to interview some Polish people who had been abused. This racism is disgusting and should be reported and recognised, but there is a distinct danger that by implying the racists are out of control they will be handing them a victory. Were there actually more Polish people abused this weekend than the previous one? The radio coverage was enough to make any migrants feel under threat and for the bigots to rally the racists to the call.
The situation we are in now is just too bad. The best we can make of it is to stop blaming and to start trying to find the best way forward. And that means finding out the many and complex reasons why people voted for Brexit DESPITE, not because of Farage et al, and doing something about it.
And in case you are wondering - my sympathies finally were with the Remain campaign but I didn't think it was a straightforward or easy choice.
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