From cycle touring to politics…

Hello from Bishkek!

We have successfully applied for three visas, jubilantly watched both Ireland and Wales football teams reach the next stage in Euro 2016 while despairingly following the political proceedings which have followed the UK referendum Brexit vote.

This last event has shaken me to my core, not only the result, but the tone of the campaigning on both sides before voting day, the shocking murder of Jo Cox a week before and the inevitable political vacuum which will now be created with the resignation of our prime minister. 

This last worry is the one playing most on my mind… For the past five months I have spent my time cycling across countries who’s governments largely rule through mistrust of outsiders, repression in the name of nationalism, and a total disregard for the value in regulation, diversity and the free movement of its people. 

Having learnt about the history of these extreme governments, they have all risen to power during a period of civil war and economic volatility where a sudden political vaccum has allowed extremist groups to take hold.

Now I see the same thing happening in the UK.

It’s hard to understand how the referendum turned out the way it did when both my Twitter and Facebook feed were flooded with people who were making the same arguments as me. Isn’t it a great feeling to be able to surround yourself with people and opinions who exactly match your own. What a united, cosy and warm world we live in…

But instead of filling me with a disbelieving, angry and snobbish backlash against all the people who voted leave, Friday’s result instead reflected my own, narrow minded cocoon which I have engineered for myself over the past 28 years. 

It would be easy to say: 

‘who ARE all these people who think and voted differently to me? I don’t know any of them. They have been duped, they are racist, or they are too stupid to make an informed decision and so we shouldn’t have been asked to vote in the first place. Let’s declare an Independant London!’

The above are all things I have seen my friends write on social media over the past few days, and this even more than the result, has made me feel very, very sad.

With Facebook and Twitter it’s so easy to like, follow and share links with people who think the same as you. We’re all creating a fake world for ourselves all the time. I’m sad to say my London friends are the worst for this… With so many people to choose from, it’s easy to befriend people who are just like you. 

I always knew I was a champagne  socialist and there was once a time that I gave myself this label with a self-satisfying smugness. I’ve now come to realise that it’s this way of thinking that is just as much a part of the problem as Nigel Farage…

Scotland, who a short time ago voted to remain united, now ironically find themselves part of a desperately divided ‘United Kingdom’. They will inevitably jump ship, but wouldn’t it have been nice to think that they would hang around, stand by their nation, and help build a new uniting political voice? 

Nicola Sturgeon wowed us all with her charisma, rhetoric and steady arguments in the last election. I, like many of my friends wished that I could have voted for her… We need her, now more than ever, to remember her country decided to stay married to the rest of the UK. She’s shown little backbone however, announcing her wish to divorce her dirty, messed up husband as soon as she can.

You can’t ignore a referendum vote, there is no first past the post system or tactical voting to hide behind. We luckily live in one of the best educated societies on the planet (this article ranks UK as number 1) so don’t blame the result on ‘stupidity’ or people’s lack of intelligence to understand what they want. Blame the low tone of both political campaigns. I can blame Jeremy’s personal lacklustre all I like too, but I was away enjoying the beautiful Chinese and Kyrgyz countryside and didn’t do any campaigning either…

I gave my vote whole-heartedly to Remain and I’m just as scared and upset by Friday’s result as most of my friends but instead of pointing the finger and telling all the leave voters to take a good hard look at themselves, I tried pointing the finger at myself instead, and I’m sorry to say I’ve been a little ashamed with what I’ve seen… 

Stronger together, divided we fall.  Hope not hate, unity not division, understanding not blame. We may have turned our backs on the EU but let’s not turn our backs on our fellow countrymen.

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One thought on “From cycle touring to politics…

  1. Very similar to my sentiments. We were at an anti-racism march on Friday in response to the referendum results and despite helping my sadness and anger by being proactive, I couldn’t help but feel that I should have been there a week ago. So what action can we now take?

    Like

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