My wife asked me last week how I was going to vote and at the time I honestly did not know the answer (maybe like many others). If I was honest with myself I suffer from the
Northern Irish apathy towards politics and politicians. It seems to me that my local politicians are completely removed from reality and too entrenched in historical infighting (both sides of the divide as we call it) that they are missing what real people are focusing on in their lives.
As a citizen and parent I worry about my children’s education and future. I worry about my daughter who is disabled and what her future will be in a fast changing world – I worry about her most of all. I worry about jobs, health care and the future of the NHS, rule of law and what our culture and values will be in 50 years. Most of all I worry about the mass movement of people from mainly Muslim countries to Europe and how this will change our culture, our way of thinking and our freedoms for ever. I worry about democracy and the freedoms that it brings to everyone that lives within our boarders and how long we will have these freedoms (do we really have them anymore?).
My apathy re the political process stems from who I am and where I live. Ulster. Anyone who has read my writing
will know I am unashamedly an Ulster Scot.
I feel that Ulster is like a micro-ism of the UK and Europe. Within the UK we have some autonomy but at the end of the day we do what Westminster tells us or we are threatened with the Block Grant (monies allocated to Northern Ireland by the Treasury), or adjustments of it and disillusion of our regional Parliament.
It is an analogy that I hear all the time when it comes to our membership of the EU and how this has eroded our national and individual freedoms. It reminds me of John Laird’s book.
‘John Laird’s book is a witty and drole take on issues of identity in Northern Ireland today. The book is a striking addition to the province’s list of political memoirs. More than that, it shows the original cast of mind of a man who believed above all in the power of the sceptical intellect.’ – Lord Bew of Donegore, Professor of Politics, Queen’s University Belfast. I am not saying that I agree with everything Laird says but what I do agree with is his basic premise: A Struggle To Be Heard.
I can understand and identify with those that are looking to leave the EU. Set aside the economic pros and cons of staying or leaving, I believe one of the most powerful pulls of the leave camp is this idea of a struggle to be heard. It is also known as democracy. Our forefathers struggled to attain this over hundreds of years. It was not a short struggle nor was it an easy struggle.
At times it was a bloody struggle to achieve it and maintain it. In the UK we remember those that gave their all for this struggle and we should never forget them – although it seems our political masters (of all elks) have forgotten our brave and honorable servicemen and women who have given their all for us. Whether this was the ultimate sacrifice or a life changing sacrifice for them and their families. How they struggle to be heard and it seems successive governments are only interested in the monetary value of listening. We need to be ashamed as a nation in this respect.
Multiculturalism an answer to all our woes
I have said before, and I will always say, I am proud to be an Ulster Scot. I will never be ashamed of it. There is this modern masochistic form of degradation or humiliation that seems to be popular (especially with the left wing) that puts forward this view that we should be deeply ashamed of our past (culturally, religiously, politically etc). This philosophy seeks to destroy any cultural or religious identity that we had and replace it with this misguided belief in multiculturalism. As if there was such a thing as this artificial construct.
We are not talking about a multi ethnic or religious society here. We are talking about a society where all cultures have equal value and respect. There is no such society and never has been and there never will be because it is a fantasy borne out of a false sense of guilt and self loathing which has been feed to us for too long.
It has nothing to do with racial, cultural or religious identity. What it has to do with is shared values. Our culture in the UK and elsewhere is built on a long process of people being heard. A struggle for freedom and the right of individual choice based on and guaranteed in law. It was not anarchy or chaos and it certainly was not lawlessness.
After this long struggle we got to where we are now. A place where individuals have the right to free speech even if it offends some. A place where we can choose our own religion or none, where people are treated with the same fairness no matter what gender or racial background they are. A place where people can practice their own sexual orientation (even if we disagree with their life choices) as long as it does not harm others. A place where all individuals are protected under the law and there is no room for culture abrogating this protection. This is especially true of those most vulnerable in our society, those that have no voice of their own. Such commitment to these freedoms are not just the purview of one political philosophy or ideology. I can be a Christian (which I am) and still believe passionately about these freedoms. I may disagreed with certain life choices but that is my right to do so.
This is multiculturalism in its true form. It has as its foundation shared values on what is inherently right or wrong. It does not say all cultures and their practices have equal value therefore we can’t disagree with you when we know something is inherently wrong. Culture is not this untouchable inalienable right.
It is inherently wrong to murder someone (even for`honour’ – for me this seems a heinous crime), it is inherently wrong to cut pieces of a young girls body (FGM) for cultural reasons. It is wrong to rape anyone (even within marriage), it is wrong to abuse others (whether they be men, women or children) in order to control them. It is wrong to kill someone just because they disagree with your religion or philosophy. It is wrong to intimidate those you disagree with in order to silence their voices.
We have made value judgments that such things are wrong and we cannot allow any system to be nurtured in our society that undermines and seeks to negate these values. We have stood by, and continue to stand by, when young girls are taken overseas for FGM or forced marriages. We stand by when women and children are abused and discriminated against because of `culture’. This is not what multiculturalism is about and those that turned a blind eye to such practices (and many more) in the name of multiculturalism and tolerance should be ashamed of their tolerance of and silence about (and in some cases covering up of) things that are inherently wrong and should never, ever be part of our culture.
For the above reasons I support the complete banning of any form of sharia law in the UK (and elsewhere). I will be doing a separate piece on sharia as it is in the UK so will not go into detail of what it is here. Lots of information can be found on the One Law for All website, the Clarion Project, Honor Diaries – Culture is no Excuse for Abuse, Finally Girls Matter, Council of ex-Muslims in Britain, International Center for Research on Women and others.
As citizens of the UK we should be thankful and proud that we live in a free society. We should be thankful that we have so many freedoms. I was temped to say we should be thankful that everyone has such freedoms. But unfortunately that would be a lie. Those of us living outside of Muslim communities that are not under sharia law have these freedoms. Communities that are under sharia law do not have these freedoms. We as a
society have allowed a situation to arise where communities within the UK are denied the same freedoms that we enjoy. This is what should be shameful for us. We should as a society stand up and say that everyone in this country is equal and has equal rights for protection under our laws. Like the Honor Diaries we should shout from the rooftops that Culture is no Excuse for Abuse. Everyone of us should demand from our MP’s to stand up for what is right and bring legislation banning the use of sharia law in the UK as completely incompatible with UK values. If they refuse to do this we should challenge them to justify why publically. Or maybe they are afraid of being labeled as islamaphobe or racist. Far too long have those opposed to our freedoms and values hidden behind these words and used them to silence those that are standing for what is right.
I have thought a lot on these matters. In my times working in the Middle East, Africa and South East Asia I always looked forward to coming home to the UK and seeing some sanity and being in a safe place where it was OK to believe in freedom. But increasingly in recent years I cannot distinguish the difference between Iraq, Afghanistan or Somalia (all places I lived and worked) and parts of the UK. It is not the dress code or the mosques but the seemly hatred for the values we hold dear among some. It is the children subjected to child marriage and FGM in the UK. It is the acceptance that it is OK to discriminate against women. It is a society that turns a blind eye to these things at best and actually facilitates it by allowing sharia law courts to operate under, and in opposition to, the law in the UK.
Is membership of the EU to blame for this? How much has membership of the EU lead us to this if at all? Some argue that having to harmonise our laws to Brussels has contributed to this. Europe has gotten this completely wrong and it seems they have more problems than the UK in this respect. Certainly mass immigration has been a blight to our country and our leaders have blindly followed the blind who are leading Europe. Our country is being lost to us because many immigrants hate all things British. I agree with immigration but immigration of people that will cherish our shared values.
It is our struggle to be heard that concerns me. It is hard enough to be heard by our own politicians but at least we can vote with our feet. How do we hold the EU accountable? Can our Prime Minister control what is implemented in the UK by the EU? Economically we will continue to advance but what about our struggle to be heard? For me this is the central issue in this whole debate and why I will vote to leave.
Originally posted 2016-05-20 13:38:17. Republished by Blog Post Promoter