A thought for Brexit and Trump voters…

As we all hold our breath over the Supreme Court’s decision over whether Parliament has the power to impose Brexit, it got me wondering – what will Brexit actually look like?

The biggest issue drummed home by politicians supporting Britain to leave the European Union was migration and “protecting Britain’s borders”. Likewise, migration was a big issue for voters who elected Donald Trump as US president.

My family moved here in the 1960s when the British government was appealing for Commonwealth citizens to come here and take up jobs to fire-up the economy. At the time there was a lot of resistance from locals – racist attacks and segregated areas are testament to this.

But overtime society evolved. Migrants appeared to adapt to local customs and culture and even the Brits adopted the curry as the nation’s favourite dish. South Asian migrants were becoming entrepreneurs and business owners, not just factory workers. This wave of migrants was making an identity in the British way of life.

Equality legislation was established, race relations were considered the pinnacle of a modern society. People became more aware and respectful to cultures and faiths, which gave birth to a politically correct society.

Fast forward fifty odd years and suddenly more and more hate crime is being reported. People are questioning why some Muslim women wear headscarves and some Sikh men wear a turban. People are questioning why there is a huge wave of Poles, Somalis and Romanians who are “coming over here and taking our jobs”.

It all seems eerily similar to stories I’ve heard from the 1960s when the first wave of South Asian economic migrants were coming to Britain.

Is history repeating itself? Are we regressing as a society?

A lot of (granted, not all) Brexit voters here and Trump supporters in America took migration as their key voting decider. Many of them are indeed descendants of migrants themselves, which I find particularly interesting. Even Donald Trump is of German descent!

Some 40% of the NHS workforce is from Europe and beyond: think about when you go to see your GP or you’re visiting someone in hospital, now imagine no “foreign” workers there…

From the medical profession to the legal, building contractors to beauty salons – ethnic minorities have made an impact across the broad spectrum of the economy. Be they first, second or even third generation – when are you defined as British and no longer a migrant?

As a journalist I have come across people who have suggested that the reason I am where I am is because there is a need to promote diversity and apparently I tick the relevant boxes…need I explain which party such people have been politically aligned to?!

I’m bored of hearing the tenuous argument about controlling migration to secure jobs. So my suggestion to Britain and America – stop all of your ethnic minorty workforce, or whoever you consider a migrant (European and further afield) – stop them working for one week, just seven days. And let’s see how your respective countries cope.

Why blow out hot air with rhetoric. Let’s see if your arguments come to any fruition and “locals” can manage their economies alone. Let’s rewind the clock to a world where globalisation was a thought and not a way of life (that’s the direction Donald Trump’s America seems to be going).

So seven days. One week without any minorities working. Let’s see how the countries function.


Is scaremongering the best way to persuade?

Fear is a powerful emotion that everyone can relate to. It’s often used to sway opinion and evoke reaction. There is no better example than UKIP leader Nigel Farage this week encouraging people to “bully” others to vote out of the EU if “we want our country back”. It got me thinking – is scaremongering the best way to persuade?

It seems politicians often use fear and anxiety to predict a grim picture of the future, unless voters take their side.

During the British Raj in India, authorities adopted a divide and rule approach to justify how and when they left India. Dividing a once united nation for independence to believe a separate state for Muslims was crucial resulted in 200-years vented frustration over British occupancy being diverted to the potential of another alleged dictatorship by the Hindu majority.

Paradoxically, the majority of Muslims remained in India after the partition. And what ensued has marred families for decades. The partition of India in 1947 made friends enemies, and millions of lives were lost. Seventy years on, tension in the region is still rife. But the British authorities made an escape, avoiding bloody anarchy against them.

This political charade is no less today – we were made to fear weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to justify a war that claimed countless lives and probably gave birth to many more terrorists. But those weapons were nowhere to be found.

Since unrest in the Middle East, we have heard constant media reports on the “migrant crisis”, implying there is an “unprecedented” situation. Such terms do nothing but exacerbate an issue and convince people there is a problem they should be afraid of.

I am in no way condemning the number of migrants seeking refuge in Europe is not an issue. But the way in which it is reported and spoken about by politicians and the media is grossly exaggerated and makes me wonder what our attention is being diverted from…

Donald Trump has been swaying voters in America with his distrust and fear-spreading rhetoric about migrants, and Muslims in particular. Such preaching has a powerful impact on people who may not go out of their way to read up on the facts, to inform themselves of the truth. It’s a worrying thought that people who listen to the loudest, scariest voice will base all their political views on it.

Likewise with the recruitment of extremists: terrorist groups use fear and scaremongering to brainwash people that the world is against them, their faith and their beliefs to justify the slaughter of all those who are different to them.

And I’m not only referring to Islamic extremists – there are radicals from all faiths and cultures. The recruitment process works in the same way.

As I learn more about the world; working in news, speaking to more people with different perspectives and experiences – I’m growing more aware of the impact of scaremongering.

Ironically, I’m afraid of how the world is evolving and how this will impact my unborn children and generations to come.

Maybe it’s easier to believe charismatic and charming people than making the effort to educate and forming an opinion of your own. Maybe it’s easier to be herded like a sheep than having the courage and strength to stand your own ground. Maybe its human nature to be easily influenced and there are the few who are bold enough to carve their own way.

But it is these few that change history forever. Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela’s legacies leave me with a glimmer of hope that positive persuasion can empower people.