I suspect like all of us, I’m pre-occupied with this week’s EU referendum.
I wasn’t going to write about it, honest I wasn’t.
I wasn’t going to write because I tend to think once people make up their minds on this stuff, you can’t change it. You think the EU is undemocratic and has taken away our ability to rule our own country. I think the EU is responsible for 7% of our laws, which are ratified by an elected parliament that’s arguably more democratic than our own.
You think I’m a fool for believing the lies we’re fed by the “elite” who want to destroy our country. I think you’re a fully-fledged, tinfoil-hat wearing paranoid person.
You can see why reasoned debate gets tricky. And besides, I support freedom of thought and expression. There’s no law that we all have to agree. That would be boring.
But here’s the thing – if you go to your polling station this week and tick ‘leave’ you’re giving a mandate to the sort of people who do this:
Maybe it’s right to leave the EU, maybe it’s not. But I know with every fibre of my being that THIS? This isn’t right.
Of course, this isn’t necessarily your world view. You’re probably a perfectly nice person who doesn’t confuse the words “immigrant” and “rapist”.
But in voting leave, I would suggest that you’re giving that campaign, that view, those people your tacit support. You’re saying that this is okay. That leaving the EU is worth opening the door to these racists and extremists.
Like it or not, your vote says you are okay supporting a man who says the EU is trying to succeed where Hitler failed. Or a man who says remaining in the EU means our women are at risk of mass sex attacks. Should the “leave” campaign win, these are the men who will gain power and influence in our country. And we should all be ashamed if that happens.
So that’s why I’m writing about it.
Because I want my daughter to know that when you see something this wrong, you speak out. That when some racist is on the TV, pretending to represent the British people, we need to stand up and say, “You do not represent me.”
This isn’t my country. My country is liberal and tolerant, and engages with the wider world. My country is ambitious and smart, and values education and experience. It doesn’t sneer at experts as “the elite”. It doesn’t pretend that doing the bidding of Rupert Murdoch is the same as standing up for the working class. My country isn’t afraid, and suspicious and it doesn’t close the doors to those in the most need.
Honestly, though, I don’t need to change your mind. I’m just one person and my view might be the same as yours, it might not. But if you are using your voice to support division; if you lend your voice to those who believe this human or that human is more worthy of life than another, then no – you most certainly do not represent me.