Insomnia occasionally has its plus points but being awake late enough to hear the results of the Rochester and Strood by-election and Mark Reckless’ victory for UKIP isn’t one of them. How long can you lie there before you stop feeling grrrrrrrr? Not long enough it seems, because when I finally woke this morning the grrrrrrr continued as the news confirmed my country’s continued lurch to the right.
Its a lurch that is leaving me feeling hopeless. Today the BBC’s Nick Robinson asked UKIP’s Nigel Farage (is it a coincidence that the last four letters of Nigel’s surname capture exactly how he makes me feel?) about his (yes his!) prospects for government come the 2015 general election. Seriously, he asked him seriously. That half joked about nightmare of a coalition between the Tories and UKIP is looking possible. And it is frightening the hell out of me. But I can’t do a Paul Daniels and threaten to leave the UK if the election doesn’t deliver the government I want. I have to stay. And I will have to watch as so many of the values I love about this country are buggered. Buggered. Buggered. Out of Europe. Out of favour. Out of decency. A country where xenophobia and the fear of the Other decides our policies and our place in the world.
But I’m the Other. I’m queer. I’m a woman. Once upon a time my family arrived here from France. (That’s probably nil poi as far as UKIP and Britain First are concerned). I’m no pure breed Anglo Saxon. My freinds come from Europe and beyond. Some are in relationships with those who would never get a visa if UKIP are shaking the tail of the Tories. So where do we fit in this new far right-sided world? As a rather wonderful woman said on Question Time last night, are are our lives to be governed by MPs who get a bit racist when they are tired. Are we to be legislated by MPs and councillors with connections to the vile Britain First or BNP? Where does this stop? And how do we stop it?
The country we live in today and the everyday problems we encounter – our buckling public services, stretched NHS, limited school places and lack of decent, contracted, fairly paid jobs are not the fault of the Other. Just as in previous times of depression and economic downturns we are not broke because of the immigrant. As a country we would be broken without immigration. And I’m feeling broken just thinking about the battle ahead if we are to stop Farage and the panicking leaders of Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative party’s taking this country so far right we can’t turn back. Who can I vote for to stop this madness?
The answer? I’m still too sore from banging my head against the wall to work that one out today but I do know one thing. We need to change the conversation. Its not about you and me vs the Other. Its about us. Maybe its time to reclaim Osbourne’s infamous catchphrase. We are all in this together.
Rant over. Suggestions on WTF we do next most welcome. We can sort it. Can’t we?