Love Not Leave

If you inject enough poison into the political bloodstream, somebody will get sick

On Sunday I went to Parliament Square to pay my respects to murdered MP Jo Cox. I also took part in the (successful) world record attempt for the longest kissing chain. Across Europe, people lined up to kiss each other in a show of love and solidarity to urge people to remain in the European Union. Now that’s my sort of demo, although I feel that both the man and the woman either side of me are now thoroughly traumatised.

For many people on both sides, this week’s referendum has morphed in to something more than just staying in or leaving the European Union. It’s become about the type of society we want to live in, and how we want to shape our country moving forward. Do we want to be part of a progressive and tolerant society? Or do we want to be dragged back to 1970? I grew up in the 1970s; I sure as hell don’t want to go back there.

Even if Britain does vote to leave the EU this week, those in the ‘political correctness gone mad’ camp are going to be disappointed when they wake up on Friday morning. As they struggle with their post-celebration hangovers, the strains of Yakety Sax still ringing in their ears, a feeling of anti-climax will slowly dawn upon them.

Miraculously, Jeremy Clarkson won’t have been ordained and Katie Hopkins won’t be Prime Minister. There won’t be back to back re-runs of Love Thy Neighbour and The Black and White Minstrel Show on TV. Climate change won’t be revealed as a global conspiracy by the Illuminati to sell more umbrellas and sun tan lotion. All workplaces won’t be allocated a solitary black man called Chalky with a comedy Caribbean accent, and compulsory passive smoking will not be reintroduced in to pubs. Women won’t suddenly realise that yes, actually, they do rather like having their bottoms pinched after all. And speed cameras and traffic cops won’t be abolished so that the police can concentrate on issues more important than the hundreds of children that are killed or maimed by cars every year.

We live in troubled times. We need to be making the world a smaller place and bringing people closer together, not prising countries and peoples apart, hunkering down and building a wall. Britain and the EU may well need marriage guidance, but that’s infinitely preferable to storming out and instigating a bitter and acrimonious divorce.

Sunday 23 June 2016, Parliament Square, London
Nikon F90X / Kodak Tmax 400


Panama Papers

Following the news that the Prime Minister’s family has benefited from some rather dodgy offshore tax arrangements, several thousand people marched on Downing Street to call for his resignation.

The release of the Pananma Papers has revealed that actually we’re not all in this together, much to the surprise of absolutely no one. Meanwhile, as many large companies routinely pay zero corporation tax, the Government continues to dismantle public services and welfare.

The UK is the fifth largest economy in the world (by GDP).

And yet:

Food bank use is at record levels

Children are going to school hungry

Disabled and vulnerable people are dying as a result of welfare reforms

Life isn’t fair and not everyone is created equally. That’s just the way things are. But I don’t see the point in society if we don’t have compassion for those less fortunate. And there’s nothing more destructive than a world without empathy.

Whitehall, London 10 April 2016
Nikon FE / Kodak Tmax 400 / Developed in 76 1+1