I don’t know about you, but I am mightily fed up with the division, polarisation and hatred that seem to have defined life on these islands since the 2016 Brexit referendum. Social media, especially Twitter, has become a rancid sewer of unfettered bile, not only directed at Muslims, Jews, people of colour and those who identify as LGBT+, but also at those with differing political opinions.
Those of us who wanted to remain in the EU have now to throw in the towel. Brexit has divided workmates, friends and families, but enough is enough. The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union, so let’s all do our bit to ensure that we move forward as a prosperous, tolerant and – above all – contented country.
Don’t let’s be beastly to the Tories
The Conservatives have just won a decisive election victory, securing the largest majority since Mrs Thatcher in 1987. Despite what you might see on social media, “Tory” is not the equivalent of “Nazi”. The new intake of working-class Conservative MPs, chiefly in the north and midlands, should give us hope that the Conservatives will return to the spirit on One Nationism, as has been promised by Boris Johnson.
The #NotMyPrimeMinister hashtags and the demonstrations in Whitehall the day after the election are puerile, irrelevant and ineffective. If anything, they’re counter-productive. For goodness’ sake, we haven’t even had a Queen’s Speech yet!
That being said, we must continue to hold the government to account. Leaving the EU means that legislation regarding rights for minorities may need to be redrawn, and we cannot allow the British government to get away with any erosion of these rights.
Similarly, promises of investment in the NHS, education and infrastructure cannot be mitigated or watered down. It is our democratic duty – especially when faced with a government boasting such a large majority – to call out the merest hint of a departure from delivering on these lofty pledges.
Don’t let’s be beastly to Labour
All democracies need an effective opposition so, wherever we sit on the political spectrum, I think we can all agree that we need the Labour Party to emerge from a period of renewal as a coherent force in British political life.
Since Mr Corbyn came to power, much has been written about antisemitism, anti-Britishness, support for terrorism and unrealistic plans for the economy. Now is not the time to rehash those arguments: the election has been and gone and the British people have spoken.
The vast majority of Labour supporters are fair-minded, decent social democrats, and we cannot allow ourselves to lump them together with the aggressive, far-left cabal which led to the rejection of the party by so many of its traditional allies.
Those of us who identify as left-leaning social democrats need to give Labour a chance to step back from the abyss of unelectability and renew themselves as a progressive force within the political arena. Branding each other variously as “Jew haters” or “Blairite scum” really won’t help anyone who is committed to democracy, which can only work if the Conservative government is met with an effective opposition over the next five years.
It’s no secret that much of our community has been riven by increasingly bitter arguments about trans rights, specifically with regard to how self-ID might impact on the sex-based rights of women.
Heightened passions have led to abuse, denial of free speech and accusations of bad faith. Women expressing even the mildest of misgivings about complex issues such as trans people in sport have been branded transphobes, while trans people who simply want to go about their business without fear of harassment (or worse) are labelled misogynist extremists.
Both accusations may be true for those whose opinions dwell on the margins but, in my experience at least, this is the exception rather than the rule. But when those on the margins shout increasingly louder, the voices of the reasonable majority are drowned out. This is not helpful.
As Churchill said, jaw-jaw is better than war-war. Protagonists on both sides of the divide have genuine, heartfelt concerns and shouting at each other on social media or in real life has so far achieved nothing other than driving people further apart. It has to stop.
As the Editor of an LGBT+ website which seeks to speak to all who belong in our beautiful rainbow community, this is a great sadness to me. We are always – ALWAYS – stronger when we stand together so let’s at least try to find some common ground and move forward together.