It’s about time we recovered the centre ground of politics, one that combines the best of what we hold dear and excludes the ugly, angry and coarse to the margins of our political lives. I have noticed that there has been a polarisation of views as the referendum debate raged on and rather than being a debate about governance and political direction, in some places it has been a vote to voice resentments and even hatred. We are seeing some effects of this in the ugly behaviour of some of our fellow Leavers have displayed towards established immigrants.
I still stand firm in the belief that we made the right decision as a people in leaving, not Europe, but the European political union. We need self-governance and flexibility. We need a dynamic and prosperous environment that everyone can share in. We need patriotism from us all, not nationalism.
I like what George Orwell said: “Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.”
I love my country. I am proud to be British. I have always been proud to see the Union Flag flying as it reminds me of the great things this nation has done. Great Britain: source of the magna charter and the rule of law. Great Britain: the father of modern day democracy. Great Britain: outlawing the evils of the slave trade. Great Britain: standing against tyranny and oppression, against desperate odds, during world war two. Great Britain: establishing heath care for all with the NHS. Great Britain: a fantastic charitable nation that continues with good works at home and abroad to this day.
The list goes on. There’s lots more. I could remember the scientific advancements we are responsible for, the movement of budget control from king to parliament, the enfranchisement of normal men and women, etc. etc. etc.
I remember all these things and I feel a stirring in my heart. It’s not a pride that wants to force what we have on others, but the pride that is comfortable that we have the best the world has to offer and invite others to join us. I my heart I understand that these are the things that really made Britain Great. It is the hearts of the people of this land. Good people, the vast majority of whom care about their country and their society. People who reject the violence, anger and hate found at both political extremes.
This Britain, my Britain and your Britain. I believe in you. I believe that we can do this together. Let us not stand passive as our vote is relabelled a vote of hate and racism and then rejected. Let us support the rule of law against those who defile our name with their ugliness and violence. Let us reach out to those who are already here and show them consideration. Let us help them integrate with us and be part of our precious culture too.
Let us call on others to stand with us for moderation and the centre ground and believe in Britain together.