Hi lovelies! Apologies for the radio silence around these parts the past couple of weeks. Following a glorious week in Italy (more on that later), I spent every waking hour campaigning for the EU referendum here in the UK (for unglamorous proof, see here), and every day since trying to find the words and come to terms with the enormity of what has happened.
Most of you will know I work in politics by day, so caring about what is going on is literally my job. But the past week was on another level, and even Lord Dobbs would probably dismiss the events that ensued as too far-fetched a plotline for a season of House of Cards.
For those outside the UK trying to grasp exactly what ‘Brexit’ means and what on earth is going on, in summary: against the warnings of just about every economist, expert and world-leader the UK public voted to leave the European Union (a result no one predicted or expected), the global economy immediately went into freefall (the £ tumbled to its lowest level in 40 years and three trillion $ was immediately wiped off the international market), the ‘Leave’ camp retracted their main campaign promises within hours of claiming victory (as ‘not actually possible’), internal party warfare even stranger than fiction (seriously; you couldn’t make up the events of this week in Westminster) broke out in both the Government and Opposition parties immediately afterwards, the breakup of Great Britain seems highly likely (Scotland have said they now want to leave and Ireland is considering reunification, leaving just England and Wales), and no one can predict quite what will happen next or when we will regain stability. In short, we’re in the midst of the greatest crisis of identity for generations.
For me, the most worrying part of all of this is the rise of extreme nationalism and the resulting deep division that has emerged in the UK since the vote; at the moment, it feels like we’re a country divided like no other point in recent history. I, like most, had assumed that these sentiments were confined to the far-right fringes of society, but the result proves that is not the case. Nor is it confined to the UK; last week’s vote just echoes the political and ideological shifts happening elsewhere in the US and many parts of Europe.
And let’s be honest, for many, hate is a powerful political motivator; hate of that which we cannot understand, of those who are different to us, or of ways of life unlike our own. But I like to think there is something more important than hatred: love. Whether it be in the form of compassion, generosity, equality or tolerance (for those the same, different, or less fortunate than us), love is worth so much more than hatred, and must be defended accordingly.
We have made great progress and strides towards kindness and equality, but there is still much more to be done. We are extremely fortunate to at last be in a place where the right to vote is almost universal (though let us not forget that there are still too many countries where free and fair elections are not the norm), and we have a democratic duty to treat that vote with respect.
So, what’s my point exactly? Principally this: we can’t just sit by and wait for others to fix the problems or injustices we see around us, or assume that things will always be alright in the end. While young people will be the most affected by the outcome of this referendum for generations to come, only 36% of 18-24 year olds actually turned out to vote. Put simply, that means 2/3 didn’t actually make the effort to have a say in their future, so instead it was decided for them by others.
I’m constantly asked why I still maintain my day job when I could just blog full-time (and get to talk about fashion and lipstick for a living), but I went into politics for one simple reason: I wanted to make the world a better place than when I found it. Idealistic though that goal may be, it feels pretty wonderful to know I’m getting stuck in and fighting for what I believe in (after all, I have no right to complain about the result if I didn’t fight for the cause). So if you care about something and want to see change, be that change: campaign for a cause you believe in, write to your MP/Congressman/Senator, join the political party you most identify with and help shape things from the inside, and above all, register and vote. We must not sit by and allow others to decide our future for us, and we must not be complacent and assume that reason will always win out in the end; it will only if we make it so.
So, go forth and vote!
Love, Miss B xx