So here it is. Act two of the great political chasm that has engulfed this country is about to shake us to our core.
I have sharpened my pencil (so to speak) and thought carefully about what I wanted to say. Because when you’ve been an immigrant for almost half of your life, ‘them’ have become ‘us’. Because when your life is informed by education and health and social care budget cuts, housing pressures and a transport infrastructure under strain, you cannot afford to say ‘politics is not for me’, because the personal becomes the political.
I have paid my taxes, embraced the opportunities ahead, loved the green rolling hills, cheered every year when spring returns, watched the same programmes than you, taken my child to the playground, too. All these years I have been thinking I was in the circle too, until the 2016 political earthquake made me realise that for many others, my passport places me (and forever will) firmly as an outsider. A good position to write from (inner conflict and distance the magic ingredients of many pieces of writing when I tried to put the world to rights.) But feeling disenfranchised for the first time ever in your adoptive home country is a bitter pill to swallow.
You could say it won’t affect my life directly, and you may be right. I have a permanent job and have worked here for many years; my husband is English, and I am mum to an English child with special needs (whose severe language disorder makes moving to a non-English speaking country a near impossibility.) Brexit and even this unexpected and unnecessary general election are not likely to change my life circumstances directly.
On the surface everything looks the same than it did two years ago, only that of course nothing does. Once you learn that a sizeable percentage of people equate immigrants with unnecessarily evil or opportunist thieves, you cannot forget what has been revealed in front of your eyes. I don’t like what it has taught me about myself either: that I have difficulties making friends with people from across the political spectrum.
For those who, unlike me, can vote in June: please exercise your right wisely.
Vote for a leader with integrity and who has the best interests of our country at heart.
Vote for a leader whose party doesn’t restrict special needs education and health and social care budgets to such a dramatic extent that many parents have to appeal for their child’s education – or who are wondering who will support them in their adult age, perhaps in an assisted living setting, given that any immigration restrictions are likely to impact further on a recruitment shortage in the sector.
Vote for a leader who thinks that everyone matters, even the stability and feelings of three million EU residents who cannot vote; someone who remembers that we are human beings too, not pawns in a real-life game of chess.
Vote for a leader who doesn’t belong to a party that plays Russian roulette with our economy and our futures – by calling a referendum on the basis that it’s their only way to secure another term and it’s a sure win.
Well, nothing is for sure in politics, and these choices and the actions resulting from them will resonate not only through these turbulent times, but in our children and grandchildren’s lives.
And whatever you do, don’t let the discourse of hate rise, because in times of difficulties, love matters more than ever.