The Remain campaign is slowly progressing and it is beginning to feel like our continued struggles are starting to pay off. High profile cases such as the Gina Miller Law suit have provided us all with hope and motivation in our individual efforts to battle against Brexit. Equally, the high profile impacts of Brexit such as the fall in Stirling and Marmite-Gate provide us with clear and concrete evidence to reinforce our arguments against the Brexiteers and emphasise the tangible impacts that Brexit will have for all of us.
Disappointment and hardship
At the same time, it is important not to overlook the small efforts and the value of the impact we can have at a local scale. It is important to challenge people on an individual basis, although I emphasise not to do so through anger or hate, but through understanding and tolerance. Ask somebody why they chose to vote leave and you will often find a tale of disappointment and hardship; dissatisfaction with the current political system, the state of our economy and social services, which many people feel are failing them as British citizens. We then must question why these individuals think that leaving the EU will solve their grievances with the current system and why do they believe that EU membership is to blame for the failings of our government. I have also found that people voted leave through sheer lack of understanding or more worryingly, through prejudice and intolerance. Farage tapped into people’s fears, he told a seductive narrative, he made the EU an easy scapegoat and he provided a simple solution to the public’s concerns. Many people voted leave because they believed the lies they were being told by careerist politicians, they believed the red bus with its £350m per week and they they thought that by voting leave they would be saving our treasured national service.
Another contributing factor to the Brexit vote is the lack of understanding for what benefits EU membership brings to our country. We don’t celebrate the value of international academic collaboration and research funding in our universities, we don’t have EU flags adorning all our EU funded infrastructure projects, and most people don’t realise that EU laws helped clean up our oceans. EU legislation also protects our treasured national produce, such as Melton Mowbray Pork Pies and Cornish Pasties. These are all important arguments to raise and discuss when we encounter a leave voter in person. Individuals should then take their arguments further by forming local groups and launching campaigns, then we must come together as a national movement and begin to make an impact with a very real possibility of blocking Brexit.
More cultural conversation
My individual efforts include writing and performing protest songs at local and national events, publishing satirical cartoons online, providing artwork and graphics for individual and national campaign projects, writing articles for local publications and online blogs and writing and illustrating a children’s storybook about the refugee crisis. My storybook, called ‘Go Back To Where You Came From’ also features LGBT+ and multi-racial characters and is about diversity, compassion and tolerance in the widest possible sense. I am pleased to see it is already having a small impact, it has been bought by a bilingual school in France to use as a group reader and I am always heart warmed to see photos of children reading my book tweeted to me by parents who are pleased to have an opportunity to discuss these important issues. I also sent a copy to Nick Clegg MP and was invited to meet him at his constituency office in Sheffield. He seemed impressed with the book and he loved my dog, Alba White Wolf, who is the main character in the book. Alba is a very attractive and striking dog so I have used her deliberately as a strategic ploy to engage the reader with the content. Nick Clegg wanted to support the project and my efforts and he is going to send donated copies to the local libraries on my behalf. He thought however, it would be more difficult to approach schools directly unless he was aware they were running a specific project on refugees. I am concerned there is a fear within the education system, around broaching political issues because of the threat of political bias. But this was one of the reasons I wanted to write this book, because of the lack of political education in our schools, which I think is one of the contributing factors to young people’s disaffection with politics. We need to make political discussion part of our young people’s cultural conversation. Additionally, it doesn’t have to be boring and academically challenging, it can be done through colourful pictures, entertaining stories and songs.
I have high hopes that eventually my storybook will have a national, or potentially international impact, but even if it never achieves such big ambitions, I am incredibly grateful for every single person who has purchased a copy of my book and shared the story with their friends and family. The importance of the individual’s efforts to make an impact in this battle against xenophobia, narrow-mindedness, misunderstanding and intolerance, should never be underestimated.
You can purchase Madeleina’s book through this link.