The Great British Shame

I woke today Friday the 13th December 2019 with an overwhelming sense of shame at my country and the countrymen and women of the country of my birth.
We had returned a recorded liar and racist, misogynist and homophobic Prime Minister to govern our country for the next five years. Good and honest decent people who had been misinformed, lied to and influenced through the unregulated medium had been hoodwinked into accepting this man as our ultimate leader for half a generation in the future.
Or had they?
I am the son of Anglo-Indian immigrants who came here in the great exodus from an independent India in 1947. Driven out by the Indians who promised to recognise our culture and community in the new democratic and independent India and who have now quietly and without debate stopped Anglo-Indian representation in the Indian parliament this year.
My parents suffered the slings and arrows of unfettered racism in the Britain of 1949 when they arrived. No housing, no work, and no dignity based purely upon their colour and ethnic heritage, with no safeguards or recourse in law.
Slowly but surely this changed.
Through Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood”, the Toxteth riots and Brixton unrest, successive governments came to realise that this was not the country that Britain wanted to be after the great struggle against Fascism and all it represented and how the call to arms had been met by people of all colours and nationalities across the globe.
Slowly but surely, the inexorable political shift of our country, my country where I was born, took shape to recognise the value of all people who inhabit these wonderful islands and their individual and group contributions to the kaleidoscope of difference, which have made our country one to be admired throughout the world.
Or that’s certainly what I believed. So much so, that I served my country in battle and peace in the military and law civil services for fifty years, almost all my adult life. I inculcated my children with the values, which I thought this country held dear. Integrity, honesty, inclusiveness and equality and a pride in our country.
Today, I wake up to find that I’ve been hoodwinked for generations. It’s not only about policy, where there are more and more poor and homeless, less access to housing, good education and opportunities for advancement for the talented and bright but also the not so talented and not so bright and all people to be able to achieve the best they can be, but also where a political dogma has been used as an excuse to move the dial of our country to be less fair, less equal and a less just place in the world.
All this so we could exercise the communal deep seated distrust of others, which has been fomented by a few influential people for over forty years relentlessly in the media and politics.
But my shame is the recognition that the country I love never really changed after the great fight against Fascism. There was always a deep seated antipathy to others which just lost it’s voice for seventy years and which was quelled and subdued by the good folk of this country, who are now once again in the minority. Silenced by the permissions given by the bigots in the highest office in the land to once again exercise the virulent and visceral hatred of all that is not “British’, which is now defined by the narrowest of criteria for generations.
And so my shame is ultimate and felt as a lack of trust and complete confusion, as my world and the people in it whom I have previously held dear are in question. The well respected psephologist Professor Curtice summed up beautifully my analysis when he said on the television in the post election scrum. “Remain voted Labour/LibDem/SNP/PC/Green in an open Britain pro immigration stance. Leave voted Tory/Brexit for a homogenous (in my words racist) anti-immigration stance, replicating the referendum result in a representative vote”. More people voted for Remain parties than voted for Leave parties and for that we can be thankful. In his opinion, policies and the leaderships had little influence on the result. I am unsure how at my advanced age I may recover from these feelings but as I have done all my life, I shall continue to argue against the injustices I see around me and remain a proud British person. We must recover our dignity and fairness for the sake of the rest of the world but most importantly the soul of our nation.

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