You might think that with a Brexit vote supported by just 52% of those who voted that the Tories would go slowly and carefully on their plans to take the UK out of Europe. You might think that they’d be concerned to ensure that they gained the support of the whole country. You might think that they’d be careful not to antagonise other EU countries which hold most of the cards in Brexit negotiations and which are concerned about the fate of their citizens who live in the UK. You might think all of these things because you’d be a sane, rational and reasonable person. Which means you’re not a Tory.
The Tories have instead chosen to use the Brexit vote as an excuse to go full on fuck the foreigners. They want companies who employ foreign citizens to list them, so that the companies can be shamed. In Britain in 2016, newspapers carry headlines saying that companies have to register their foreign born staff in order to be castigated. They say British jobs for British workers. They say that the Prime Minister has “the liberal elite” in her sights. They are headlines that wouldn’t look out of place in a middle European country in the 1930s.
It’s no longer that the storm clouds are gathering on our future. The storm clouds are already here. The papers spent months investigating anti-semitism on the left, and now the right openly vomits naked racism on the body politic and the same papers applaud. Welcome to the storm. Welcome to the tempest. Welcome to the hurricane that destroys what remains of what is good about Britain. And it’s crying bitter tears.
Amber Rudd wants to crack down on the numbers of foreigners who come to Britain to study. All that foreigners can learn from Tory Britain is that they are not welcome here. There is no tolerance. There is no acceptance. All there is here is tattered bunting on a royal parade and a fifteen year old being taught to march and use a gun and salute his superiors. This is the Britain that thinks it’s still a global power, that imagines that the world will defer to us because we once painted a third of the globe in the blood red of empire. This is the country being created in the image of the former Home Secretary who gave us the racist van campaign. The whole country is now trapped in the van of her racism.
Liam Fox defends the refusal of the British government to give any reassurances to the hundreds of thousands of EU citizens who have chosen to make their homes here. They’re one of our strongest cards, he quipped. They’re not humans who deserve respect and consideration, they’re just hostages to the fortunes of the Tory party. Foreigners.
The Tories want to reduce the number of foreigners who work in the health service and encourage them to leave in a few years time. It was announced on Tuesday that foreign born doctors will be allowed to stay until extra “home grown” medics are trained. And meanwhile British medical students will be penalised if they choose to work abroad. It’s the effective conscription of medical workers, while working class kids will experience a more direct form of militarisation as army cadet units are rolled out in more and more state schools. Waving the red white and blue is to be complusory in this new Britain. But it’s Scottish independence supporters who are the divisive nationalists.
And while the Tories trumpet their hatred and disdain for everyone who’s not a Union fleg waving Brit, where’s the Labour party? Where’s the party that sees itself as embodying the liberal soul of Britain? Why, it’s issuing press releases saying that the Tories haven’t kept their promises to reduce immigration and implying that Labour would be even tougher. In the UK politics have become UKIPised. The British state has embraced Nigel Farage as its spiritual mentor. And all this has happened on the anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street, when East Enders in London in 1936 fought back against a march of Oswald Moseley’s Blackshirts. Those anti-fascist campaigners are looking down from the heavens and are weeping. What has become of this place?
These are frightening times. These are bleak and nasty times. This is how fascism is born. This is what it looks like. It looks like a Prime Minister who preaches patriotism. It looks like a Home Secretary who demands that foreigners are registered. It looks like a Trade Secretary who speaks of humans as bargaining chips. This is the red white and blue tempest that has come down upon us to strip away all that we hold dear.
Our visions of tolerance, our dreams of internationalism, our aspirations to grow through openness, all are threatened by the caustic rain of British racism. Yet we will nuture the flame of hope and keep alive the knowledge that things do not have to be this way. They will be the torch that lights the way out to a better land. Because there is a path out of the madness. There is a route to escape the dark forest of despair. There is a garden of sanity, and it is within reach. All we have to do to get there is to hold true to our better selves, to trust in our powers of persuasion, to keep faith in our abilities to create a better world.
It’s clearer than ever that there is no place for a civic Scotland, a European Scotland, a tolerant and outward looking Scotland, within this failing state. We must take the path out of the forest. It’s time for Scotland to seek its own destiny. The stakes have never been higher.
Let’s stand together, born Scots, Scots by choice, Scots by accident, Scots by design, linking arms, shoulder to shoulder. And we say no to the madness, we will not acquiesce, we will not consent. We will build a better land, and we will be the owners of our own destiny. In the darkness of the storm, we can see the rainbow.
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