Hate and Intolerance is Becoming a Stain on British Politics

By: Kim Hardiker

Catherine Bebbington/ Parliament.uk
I have the privilege of living in a country that during World War 1 took in 250,000 Belgian refugees (cited by the BBC), this is a drop in the ocean of the kindness we have expressed to other nations. Don’t get me wrong, I do not look at my home country with rose tinted glasses. We also have a history of war mongering, killing innocent people. the crusades, a country that has occupied the majority of the rest of the world and in turn pillaged it. But, we have learned haven’t we? Surely we have moved on from this? Surely we are a nation that looks outwards and embraces multicultural practices. A nation whose national dish for many years has been curry (please note, I do not know if it still is - if you know what it is let me know). Surely a nation that likes curry, holidaying on the continent, that is made up of people with second homes in France and many other places, that  take city breaks in cosmopolitan European cities is a nation that has progressed, that is full of people that have learned to be nicer.

Recently I fear that we have not learned from history. I don’t want to generalise and I realise that sweeping generalisations are dangerous and inaccurate. I am aware that day in and day out I, and others I know encounter the kindness of people daily, both with friends and with strangers. I do truly in my heart of hearts believe that we are, on the whole a better version of ourselves then we have been. However, in the midst of this kind, compassionate Britain I fear that we have cultivated the extreme opposite that we have seen dotted throughout history. In the face of kindness we have seen hatred win, not only in this country, but in France and in America hatred in equal measure.

Hatred that fuels someone to open fire with an assault rifle in a Gay nightclub leaving a death toll of 49 and countless traumatised people in the LGBT community and their relations that will never forget the devastating events of that day. Hatred in the name of religion that shot a policeman off duty, took his wife (also in the police) and child hostage, and subsequently killed the policewoman and leaving a child orphaned in the name of extremism. Finally, much closer to home, we have seen hatred fuel the most horrific knife and gun attack on one of our most apparently loved MPs in this country, a tireless activist working to make the world she lives in a better place. A killing that leaves behind a widower and two children without a mother. On top of all this there are reports coming in of English football fans, in France watching Euro 2016 taunting Syrian child refugees, throwing coins at them, making an refugee chid down beer to earn money, just because they can. Hatred seems to exist at the same time as unprecedented kindness. 

Now, the events in America and France are utterly terrible and do move me but, for me, the murder of a UK politician leaves my heart heavy, my eyes watery and my brain trying to find some way to process the event. This is an attack in my homeland on someone that exhibited some of the best attributes humans have, on someone that formed part of the very foundation of a democratic system that I hold dear to my heart.

Jo Cox was murdered in a politically-motivated attack earlier this year
I never met this politician, I have watched her speeches some in the past 24 hours some as they happened by the joy of watching Parliament TV (again, please don’t hold this against me). I am still struggling to understand my own visceral reaction to this event, struggling to understand why I spent the majority of last night in tears as the life of someone I don’t know was snuffed out. I use the word snuffed intentionally, because, if the countless reports, obituaries, interviews are to be believed - and I do believe them then Jo Cox was a light in what can be a very dark world. She was somebody that fought, and fought hard to improve the lives of others, home and abroad. Someone that held the government accountable for both their action and lack of action, someone that put party politics aside to make the world a better place, for all of us.

I think there is are at least two reasons (and probably more) why I feel so devastated at the death of Jo Cox at the hands of an white supremacist. Firstly I am a person that tends to air on the side of idealism, I think kindness is better than hate, that fear doesn’t win and that love should ultimately win. Situations like this challenge my idealistic view of the world because, at least in the short term, the opposite appears to be true. Hate wins, fear wins - that is unless we take this opportunity to change. Secondly, because I believe wholeheartedly in the democratic process, I believe that politics at its best effects change, change that I sometimes disagree with but also change that makes life better for hundreds of thousands people both and home and abroad. Politics to many seems removed from their lives, it seems like politics consists of people, often rich, living in glass houses, out of touch with reality that seek to make life harder for the common people. I choose not to believe this. 

I think it serves the media to make out that parliament is made up of self serving, career politicians. Whilst I say that, I do not deny that career politicians exist. I however, choose to believe that our political world is, on the whole, made up of many people like Jo Cox. Many people that see unaccompanied children fleeing war torn areas and realise our country can and should intervene in this. Politicians that look at the poorest of the poor and people in need and say that as a developed country, we can help. Not only can we help but we have a moral obligation to help.

The politics that I love serves democracy and means that people can help people. It also means the people that don’t want to help people have a voice, they get to vote different to me which is acceptable. I don’t necessarily want to live in a world that agrees with me. Often the people that disagree with me help me form my most well rounded opinions.

That said, I want to live in a world where disagreement isn’t judgement, where disagreement doesn't allow someone to kill an MP for wanting to help the world, where disagreement helps people shape the world we want to live in. I want to live in a country that can have difficult conversations without death. Where our armed forces not only protect this island I live in but also help people less fortunate than us. I want to live in a world where conversation and helping people is more important, than political rhetoric.
Hate and Intolerance is Becoming a Stain on British Politics Hate and Intolerance is Becoming a Stain on British Politics Reviewed by Student Voices on 21:20 Rating: 5

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