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.


Can you be politically active and religious?

I recently spoke to a journalist who was berating a Sikh UKIP supporter because he believed the party’s policies went against Sikh values. This got me thinking – is it possible to support a political party if you’re religious?

Many, if not most, politicians will lend themselves to a particular faith, but how religious they are is down to personal perspective. When they follow a party, I wonder if their faith plays a part in who they decide to support…

We often hear the government say we’re a Christian country (especially after growing allegations of radicalisation). The British constitution was developed at a time when faith meant a lot and the men who ran the land claimed to be God fearing. So whether we realise it or not, religion has – directly or indirectly – influenced modern day policy.

But can you be both politically active and religious?

I am born into a Sikh family, I went to a Catholic school, and have grown up with Church of England, Hindu and Muslim friends. So I have had some exposure to a multitude of faiths. I don’t consider myself ‘religious’ per se, but I do believe in God and the fundamental principles of Sikhism, which include equality – a phenomenon advocated 500 years before the anti-discriminatory act we now have in the UK – voluntary service (charity) and making an honest living (working). I suppose the latter could make me more inclined to support the Tories who advocate working and discourage benefits culture. But I don’t agree with everything the Conservatives stand for.

Likewise I don’t agree with all Labour or Liberal Democrat policies – UKIP doesn’t even come into the equation for me – but I do support elements of each party, such as boosting entrepreneurship, supporting first time buyers, getting rid of tuition fees.

I work in news and there is a buzz in the office as we run up to the elections. I asked colleagues whether they thought it was possible to practice a faith and be politically active. The majority responded ‘yes’; because you would support a party that, generally – and this is the crucial part – generally reflects your views, not necessarily wholly (pun not intended!)

And speaking generally, regardless of whether you follow a faith or not, maybe you are swayed to one party more than another because you agree with the majority of what they advocate.

And that’s a probable likeness of the electorate – they agree with a mixture of policies from all the political parties but one party may, overall, best reflect how that person believes the country should be run. I guess that’s where you would think a coalition would help bridge the gap but when one party has an overriding majority, a coalition seems to mean very little.

The 2015 elections will be exciting – to say the least – because for the first time, in a long time, a coalition is almost determined. To me, that proves none of the major parties reflect what the electorate wants. Or maybe their policies on certain issues – like security and immigration – are loosely the same but fluffed with rhetoric.

So where does that put people who feel policies are a mockery of their faith? Or maybe they don’t realise it and simply vote for what they think is best for the country.

I suppose the only firm conclusion I can make is that it isn’t fair to judge a person’s religious integrity by their political persuasion, because I doubt anyone could be fully in support of a single party’s policies. Moreover, no party fully reflects a single religion. Thus, people will support the party that is closest to their personal views, be they religious or otherwise.