Referendum and the future

​I’ve just been writing some reflections over on my education blog and the post came around to my views on the referendum. I’ve taken those views and recreated them here, along with an expansion on them.

I’m devastated by the referendum result. I thinks it’s a disaster for the country for so many reasons. The economy will suffer, workers rights will suffer, the rich diverse culture that we have in Britain will suffer, it will affect touring musicians which may mean many UK based ones will give it up and less overseas stars grace our shores. 

Then there’s the rise in hate crime. In the first week after the referendum there were 300 reported hate crimes against non brits. Up from 60 on a normal week. I find both those figures abhorrent, but the larger one particularly so. To me it shows that the racist and xenophobic underbelly of our society now feel they have been legitimised. It was always going to happen they way Nigel Farage and his cronies have spent the last two decades selling the EU debate as “we want our country back”. 

And the fallout continues. David Cameron has stepped down – I thought I’d be happy when his reign ended, but this wasn’t the end I had in mind. The potential leaders are all far worse. May has been at war with human rights for ever and was behind the snoopers charter. Fox makes  Cameron  look positively socialist, Crabb is a homophones who has repeatedly moved to quash equality and espoused some vile views and Gove was responsible for some of the worst reforms we have seen. Leadson I know little about, but my preliminary research has not offered much hope.

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British Values

I’m getting a bit sick of hearing the phrase “British Values”, it’s such a none phrase but it’s seemingly everywhere at the moment. First the government were prescribing that they must be taught in schools, then we were told immigrants must sign up to them and yesterday I saw someone on the news saying that the Muslim faith needs to abide by them. But what even are they? According to ofsted they are:

Democracy
The rule of law
Individual Liberty and Mutual Respect
Tolerance of different faiths and beliefs

Democracy

I’m told that one of the core British Values is democracy. Which is a bit of a joke,  if we’re being honest. We don’t even live in one! We have some element of democracy to our constitutional monarchy but the system isn’t truly democratic.

We have an elected first house, so that’s a good start, but then we have an upper house filled with unelected landed gentry, appointed supporters of this and previous governments and bishops. A true democracy would have a wholly elected second house.

Then there’s the head of state,  again an unelected position that gives the hereditary power to veto any government decision.

If democracy is a true British value, can we have one please?

The rule of law

This is a ridiculous statement. We have laws in this country, but so does almost every other country. We certainly didn’t invent the rule of law and I’d wager that the majority of those in the country who don’t respect the rule of law are brits. This is a noble value,  but not one we can claim a monopoly on.

Individual liberty and mutual respect

So the Conservative government believe that we should teach this as a value and encourage newcomers to our country to buy into it, yet are currently implementing the snoopers charter, the biggest threat to individual liberty ever seen? Am I the only one who smells hypocrisy there?

As for mutual respect,  senior tories have labelled teachers “dealers in despair” and “enemies of promise”. They’ve attacked the workforce and worker’s rights and shown no respect for people in poverty.

I’d agree these are great values to hold, I just  wish the government that preaches them would hold them.

Tolerance of different faith and beliefs

I’ll just let that one sink in. The British government want incoming faiths to change their practices to uphold British Values, and one of those values is to tolerate different faiths and beliefs.

The phrasing of it is ridiculous. Tolerate means to put up with something, surely we should be celebrating the fact that the UK is diverse and multicultural?

I was abhorred recently by the viral video that showed three 13 year olds beating up a 12 year old, but I was more abhorred by the way people used it to try and stir up racial hatred. I’ve worked in schools where the student population was 99% white, and schools that show a roughly even split between white and Asian students. I’ve known this type of attack to happen more than once, and the majority of the time it is white on white. Often over a girl, more often because someone grew up on the wrong, but neighbouring, housing estate.

The sad truth is that many British people won’t tolerate other British people who hold the same faith or belief because they are from somewhere different. The EDL protests against mosques and synagogues show that too many British people don’t hold this so called British Value, the prime ministers recent comments about a return to our “Christian heritage” and the law that bans a Catholic from holding the office of prime minister suggest that as a society we’re far from secure in this British value.

All four of these suggested British Values are fantastic to aspire to, and I’d love to live in a society that upholds them. Unfortunately I don’t,  but I do live in Britain,  so I’m left questioning,  “are they even British Values?”

Immigration

Immigration is a hotly contested topic that I hear a lot about, seemingly every day I hear someone mention it with a tone that implies it’s a dirty word, but I just don’t get it.

Coming over here, taking our jobs….

I work in a maths department with 12 teachers, 4 of them are immigrants. 3 from Canada and 1 from the Irish Republic. We have tried to recruit teachers this year but no one applies. There are not enough maths teachers in this country to fill all the jobs and there are not enough trainee’s to fill next year’s jobs, despite generous bursaries and other incentives to get people to train. So they certainly aren’t taking “our” jobs.

Today my daughter was seen by an out of hours doctor. He was chinese, yet we’re told there is a shortage of doctors in this country, so he’s not taking “our” jobs.

In fact these “immigrants” are actually making a positive contribution to our society.

Who’s country is it anyway?

There are few, if any, indigenous British people left. Perhaps the odd one in Wales, Scotland or Cornwall. The rest of us incorporate genes from a vast array of people’s from across the world. Even those with long family histories of “British” ancestors will have Viking, Norman and Anglo Saxon in them to compliment the indigenous celtic genes. How far back should we go? How territorial should we be?

Going back to my department at school, of the other 8 only 2 are from Bradford, the city where the school is based, so should the rest of us not be allowed to work there?

What makes someone part of a nation?

Os it their place of birth? Is it their parents place if birth? Their Grandparents place of birth? Who decides? Which isn’t your nationality defined by the country you settle in, pay your taxes in, contribute to society in?

If people want to move here, work here, build a better life and society here why would we stop them? I find the whole idea of a migration cap bizarre. Who really cares which side of an imaginary line someone is born on, if they’re committed to a country surely that’s what counts right?

It annoys me that it’s seen as a dirty word. One of the greatest things about this country is the diversity and tolerance we have as a society. People from a vast array of backgrounds, races, religions living and working together. Let’s not lose that. The rise of the UKIP rhetoric, a xenophobic rhetoric, is irksome and worrying and we need to get past it.