I didn’t come up with the header for this blog. My son’s girlfriend did, without knowing it. Her words stopped me in my metaphorical tracks. Despite the imminent tragedy – for that’s what it is – of our departure from Europe, despite the election of a lying shyster and fraud to run the country and despite a million other bad things that will befall our country in the next five years and probably longer, we still have each other. We will need each other in the future, too.
We will need each other because many things will not change and some will get worse. There were four food banks in 2004 whereas there are over 2000 today. Rough-sleeping is up, 14 million people are in poverty, of whom four million are children. The social care crisis that has deepened in the last decade will not magically disappear and people will still have to sell their homes to pay for their care in old age. There is, potentially, no good news. But we still have each other.
Life is temporary, no one lives forever. When I was young, I was going to live forever. Now I can see the finish line. I will not get out of here alive and neither will you.
I have had a guts full of the hatred that has engulfed our country since the EU referendum of 2016. It has been acceptable, even normal, to be a racist, a homophobe and misogynist, as our new prime minister has proven by being all three. I have lost social media friends and relations with acquaintances, who supported the small state, low tax, deregulated, English nationalist project that is Brexit, have on occasions become strained. It will take years to undo the division and that’s only if people want to undo it. Somehow we need to come together and live again.
Getting Brexit done will not be the issue that unites us. It never could be. Those of us abused and ridiculed as ‘remoaners’ and worse will not forget that in a hurry. The lies that were told and frequently repeated as fact; it is hard to feel the same about people who engaged in that. Especially if no one says sorry.
In the 2019 election, I voted the way I always vote, which is always for what I feel is best for my family, my friends and the country in which I live. I do not vote for me, which I believe makes me a socialist. Not some wacky, off-the-wall political purist, just someone who believes we achieve far more together than we do as individuals. I want to ensure that, whatever happens, in my house and everywhere across the land we still have each other.
I still maintain that most people are good people and that I would rather spent time with a so-called do-gooder than someone who would rather do harm. And I believe that most people do not share the levels of hate and division which are pumped out by populist politicians. Even when it comes down to race, which for many (most?) was the prime motive for leaving Europe, when it comes down to it, the majority of people don’t worry about the colour of someone’s skin. People hate migration until they, or a family member, gets life-saving medical treatment from a person of colour. That’s different, they will say. But it isn’t.
I value my family and friends today more than at any time of my life. They have kept me sane (occasionally) and they have enhanced my quality of life. And when the voices of hate and division are trying to drown us out, then we still have each other.