- Date published:
12:32 pm, June 27th, 2016 - 23 comments
Categories: class war, Europe, political alternatives, political education, uk politics, vision - Tags: brexit, hope, proactive change
One of the useful dynamics from the Brexit vote is the demonstration that the major power holders in society don’t control everything. There seems to be a fair amount of post-referendum panic, but London-based Brit/Canadian/Kiwi Chris Gilson reminds Brits that there are practical things that most people can do right now. These are suggestions especially for (relatively well off) Remain voters surprised by the vote, but most also have validity across the spectrum. They are not are a replacement for other ways of addressing political chaos, nor a panacea, but they have the benefit of empowering individuals to act and they happen to be the things we should be doing anyway to build and maintain fair societies (they can equally be applied in NZ and will be more effective if we do them before tshtf).
Join a political party. Like it or not, political parties are still the dominant force for creating change in this country. Think they don’t matter? Remember that without the influence of UKIP – a relatively small political party, which has never got more than 20 percent of the vote in a general election – we would never of had this referendum in the first place. So join a party. Any party. Work with local campaigners and groups so that you do have a say.
Join a big national group campaigning for social justice as a volunteer. In straitened times, civil society is hugely important. Find a topic you care about – homelessness, poverty, food insecurity, whatever, and see what the national charity which is trying to tackle it needs. It might be a donation, it might be volunteering time.
Donate time join a local group in your neighbourhood. There’s a saying – all politics are local. So make a difference locally. Volunteer for your local neighborhood association, church, or schools. Apply to join the local school PTA or Board of Governors. It’s as easy as plugging the name of your local area and “volunteer” into Google.
Donate stuff. If you don’t have time to give time, find out how to give away things that local groups need. Find your local foodbank and give them some extra tins and nappies once a week after you do your shop. Contact your nearest women’s refuge and see if they need anything. Declutter (it’s the in thing now) and give away old clothes and kitchen items to your local charity shop.
Don’t move away. Toronto, Berlin, Melbourne and even Edinburgh are looking pretty good right now, aren’t they? It’s an irony that a lot of people who argued that we needed to stay in Europe – even though it was hard – to try and make it better, are now looking to get out of the UK themselves. Remember, a huge number of people can’t leave. They may not be able to afford it. They have family responsibilities. They may not be able to move for health reasons. So I say, stay. Stay and make things better. Use the power that you do have.
Buy British. The economy is taking a huge hit. Do what you can to blunt the effects of Brexit by buying stuff that’s made here. That includes holidaying here. Bradford has great curry, Bristol is brilliant, and Wales can be beautiful.
Get the hell out of this echo chamber. I have spoken to so many people in the last few weeks who have said “I don’t know anyone who is voting Leave”. Whoops. Social media has captured us all in echo chambers of our own making. We’re stuck talking to people who share our opinion and we collectively pat ourselves on the back for being part of the group that “must be right”. Over 16 million people voted to Leave. Why? Get out and talk to people. Chat in the pub. Chat on the bus. Talk on the tube. Speak to someone who you might not agree with. And listen.
Talk to those that you love about what’s going to happen in your future. The country is going to change, and that affects you and those that are closest to you. Now’s the time to talk to them about what you want, and where you want to be. Maybe you want to go somewhere else? (In that case, see 5). Is your job secure? Do you need to retrain? Is there anyone in the circle of people that you love that you should now try and be closer to because they’re going to be affected by all this more than you? Is there anyone you need to help?
Speak up. See racism, sexism, homophobia or anti immigrant sentiment? Confront it if you can and if it’s safe to do so. The police may even be on your side. Most people aren’t prejudiced, and this is something we can tackle through sheer numbers. If you see someone being abused for being an immigrant, ask others nearby to confront it with you. Don’t underestimate the power of the phrase, “This isn’t on, is it?”
Keep holding those in power to account. Write to your MP about what pisses you off about the government. They read those letters, I can tell you. Use the Freedom of Information Act to find out stuff from government and public authorities when you think they’re being dodgy. Keep an eye on what your council is up to, and don’t be afraid to object to things when you’re not happy with what they propose.
Don’t give up hope. Turn the clock back to 1936, 1940, 1979, and the rest. Things looked pretty bad. Things looked pretty hopeless. But things got better. We did come together to make a better future for us and our kids. We have one hell of a hangover right now, but if our history tells us anything, we’re resilient as hell, and given enough time, we can fix things.