Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage

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This article was written on 16 Jun 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.

The final reason to vote Remain

This is a post in response to the news about Jo Cox, although it was already half written in my head anyway, before her murder.

My Dad was the first person in my family, in two generations, who didn’t have to go to war in mainland Europe. He was born in 1943 before the second of two wars had finished and was lucky enough to grow up in a Europe where people were determined to make a better fist of things than before. The League of Nations, set up after the first war, had been a good idea that was unable to prevent the second. German militarism had gone unchecked and, given its head, had brought Stalinism into the heart of Europe.

The West were determined to do things differently. They decided that people should talk and not fight, and with the smoke of carnage still hanging in the air, they set about to create a forum in which people could do that, a system of checks and balances that, in time, grew into mutual respect and friendship. More countries joined, then the Wall fell and the East had chance to join as well. What came out of the first, faltering steps toward friendship after 1945 is now, amazingly, hanging together despite its differences.

For my family, my Dad was the first beneficiary of that. He wasn’t handed a Lee Enfield .303 rifle and told to go off and do his duty by his country. Thirty years after he was born, I came along. The idea of war breaking out on the continent of Europe had retreated even further. People might argue over herring, but the desire to go to war over it had comfortably receded. The parades, the marching bands and the unremitting and wholly pointless slaughter that had gone before were at an end.

Fast forward to 2016, and Britain has forgotten what that spirit of optimism was like. It has descended into petty hatreds of anyone who is different, from Muslims to the disabled, and demonises everything that looks like it might be different from an increasingly narrow mainstream. The desire not to have to kill someone who was born in a different country has been replaced by the wary distrust towards them and, as past experience shows, wary distrust tends to be the prelude to seeing them as ‘other,’ and seeing them as other tends to be the prelude to killing them.

For this reason, I wasn’t going to vote on Thursday. I still think this country is too far gone, that it hasn’t just looked over the precipice of right wing unreason, but tumbled headlong into it, toward intolerance and fascism. But Jo Cox seems to have believed passionately in the rights of refugees and the peaceful and happy coexistence of all peoples, things which I believe in, too. She was passionate about defending the people who have fallen by the wayside in the rush towards free market capitalism and about giving voice to the voiceless, which I think is by far and away the most noble, animating belief for anyone in politics.

It befits me, then, to honour her memory and to honour the memory of great-grandparents who fought at the Somme and went ashore on D-Day into a storm of lead, and vote to stay in the European Union and to stay with the institution that, in concert with others, stops nations from going to war. Make no mistake: I think it’s probably too late and that people like Farage, Gove and Johnson, people whom I abhor, have won the day, but I need to at least register my hatred and disapproval of them before all is lost forever.

If the values that Jo Cox lived by, and the things that two generations of servicemen were fighting for mean anything at all, please get out and please vote to stay in the European Union. To do anything else risks a descent into hatred and intolerance and plays roulette with the futures of people who are either too young to vote or who are yet unborn. Everything is at stake.

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