“It’s Only about Immigration”
The UK General Election, and Brexit
The UK General Elections took place on December 12th, and the country voted resoundingly in favour of the ruling Conservative party. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s rallying cry of “Get Brexit Done” echoed throughout the nation as the oldest British party swept up constituency seats which they had never won before. The opposition Labour party lost in their heartlands, and forensic analysis of their performance blames many factors.
One chief reason was the Labour party’s conflicting and lukewarm attitude to Brexit, contrasting starkly with the Conservative’s simple but effective “Get Brexit Done” mantra. In many Labour heartlands, this struck a chord with voters who wanted Brexit done in order to stop immigration.
This gentleman from Barsnley made it clear why he wants Brexit:
“It’s all about immigration. It’s not about trade or Europe or anything like that.
It’s to stop the muslims from coming into this country”
When quizzed “do you think you voted the EU to stop the muslims coming into this country”, he replies:
“To stop immigration. The movement of people in Europe fair enough, but not from Africa, Syria, Iraq, everywhere else. It’s all wrong.”
Other views towards Brexit are geared to bringing back a sense of Empire:
“I was watching a thing with the queen. There’s billions of people in the Empire. Let’s get back to being a British Empire again. That’s what it’s all about you know. It’s about being a British empire”
Perhaps the most interesting part of the video is the lady who when asked whether she voted to remain says “No”, follows this by a gap of a few seconds, and then repeats “No”.
Despite the latter two examples, people voted for Brexit for a multitude of reasons. The decision to leave the European Union spanned the traditional political spectrum from Left to Right. Yet the fact remains that a huge proportion were swayed by the message of immigration being easier to control outside of the European Union, and it was these folk who brought the weight behind the result. And it’s not hard to see why.
A constant diet of fear and simple slogans have left their mark on people who rely on British tabloids (examples above just from the Daily Mail) for information. However, the frequency and ferocity of these messages have had a massive subconscious impact on readers and how they view “others”, not only minorities but also the disabled, and the vulnerable. This in turn is potentiated by social media echo chambers, to create an environment of tribalism. As a result, an immunity to compassion or empathy is fostered. Take this tragedy from July:
The responses in a social media group dedicated to UK parliamentarian Jacob Rees-Mogg actually intimate a happiness that one hundred people have died. This trend of xenophobia is what permeates the following accounts of hostility towards people who don’t fit a “native” appearance since the UK election result on December 12th:
Indeed, this hostility towards “the other” extends far beyond issues of ethnic origin:
This is the current situation in our society… an attitude of hostility, disdain and mistrust. People are either “gaming the system”or “out to get you”. Bred by our politics and media. And immigrants who are coming here to “get something for nothing” are first and foremost culprits for many.
Bottom Line: The Immigration Debate
Debates about immigration have been going on for decades around the world, and the United Kingdom is no exception. However, this issue is now dominating the economic, societal and geo-political direction of the country. It is not being afforded the correct space for discussion, and as a result disinformation and lies seem to be perpetuated. There has been no national debate about the pros and cons of balanced migration, let alone mass migration. As an example, the issue of whether migration helps or hinders the UK’s national health service should be a straightforward discussion. But disinformation regarding numbers of migrants and other claims have resulted in many people being unaware of the impact of immigration, beyond summaries such as this.
We can’t let our entire future be roadmapped by fear.