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Having the right conversations...

Friday 15th October 2021 witnessed an utterly devasting incident in Leigh-on-Sea. Sir David Amess shows up to his work, and on a day he’s speaking to folk in the area, making himself as approachable as possible for the constituents he represents, a young British man storms in and stabs him to death.

Mental when you think of that though eh. An ordinary guy turning up for his work, the same job he’s done almost 40 years. Big family man, father of five. A traditionalist in that sense, didn’t like the idea of abortion and fought tooth and nail against it. No making him an old fart about it either, he genuinely cared for human life that much it just didn’t sit right with him.

From what I read about him, he was gentle and kind with anyone he came across. And this wasny confined to just humans, he campaigned against stuff like animal rights abuse. He wanted a ban on fox hunting, for example. Ordinary in the sense he showed up to his work with the same rights to safety as you and I have, but extraordinary in his compassion for some of the things he campaigned for.

That’s the second MP killed in the last five years. The British political landscape is festering into sout a bit hostile nowadays. From top to bottom as well by the way, it all stems from finger-pointing.

At the top, politicians are often accused of using language that spurs on hatred and division in society. If we cast ourselves back to the murder of MP Jo Cox during the Brexit referendum, Boris Johnson was hounded for saying that the most appropriate way to honour Cox’s legacy was to complete the Brexit process and not “surrender” to a No-deal scenario… using words like ‘betrayal’ and ‘traitor’ towards those that dinnae support it in the same breath. It forced a reaction out of Jo Cox’s husband, who Tweeted:

At the bottom, people need to become more accountable as well. This nonsense argument of ‘what do you expect when folk at the top are acting like that?’ I’m sorry, that’s pish pal. Have a word wi yersel. There’s just as much damaging language used at ground level that’s got the square root to do wi how politicians act in Parliament. Screwing yer face up and calling someone a ‘murdering tory b*stard’ has got nothing to do with an exchange Starmer had with Johnson the other week in Parliament. A lot of the folk using that language dinnae have a scooby about what’s going on in Parliament, they’re directing anger about hardships they’ve faced towards someone more fortunate than them. Noubt wrong wi having anger about a lack of fairness and equality in society, noubt wrong wi voicing your opinion about it passionately either. But picking on some random dweeb because of stereotypes you’ve put the gether in the first 10 seconds of lookin at em is a different story.

It’s a slightly different scenario down south because it’s largely dominated by two parties. Naturally, it’s an ‘us and them’ environment. That in itself is probably feeding into the problem on a lot of levels as well… David Amess wasny Eton-educated pompous dingal or that… he came from a regular Roman Catholic family, his auld man was an electrician and his mother was a dressmaker in Essex.

So you’ve got this hostile, divisive language that’s become fluent in how folk talk to each other about politics… and a lot of it is misunderstood anyway. Take a wee trip down to Sunderland, a traditionally staunch Labour constituency… they recently voted Brexit, they recently voted Conservative. Before the Brexit vote, there was a huge working-class movement in wanting to give two fingers to the political class and showing this by voting against the grain. They were seek to death of not being listened to, their area being left a dearth cos naebody was daein anything about their problems.

And yet you canny be a Tory anywhere. Go on Hinge and you won’t be getting yer Nat King… you’ll be telt (ironically) ‘swipe left if yer a dirty tory.’ If you go to University, the institutions that are meant to be educating the next generation of people to decide what’s right and wrong in society… everyone says and thinks the same thing. And if you don’t think the same, you better shut yer geggy or you’ll be judged a beauty. Cos if you lean that way on any issue you’re probably a racist, a homophobe and only care about yersel.

Let's no forget the Conservative party are the second biggest party in Scotland and have been for several years. They got 592,518 constituency votes and 637,131 regional votes. People that support Conservative exist and exist in numbers. With the amount of anti-Sturgeon, anti-SNP Twitter pages you see nowadays, there’s probably a fair wack of working-class folk that vote Tory in this very vein. Or working-class Unionists that want to stay part of Britain.

It works the other way around anaw, but it seems to be more subtle up in Scotland. Like if you walk into certain boozers in Morningside and yer wearing a brank spankin new Fred Perry polo… the manager rushes to the door and tells you it's actually a private party this evening and you’ll have to leave right away. You were in that same boozer the week before, at the same time on the same night, but the rip off Ralphy that yer da got you in Turkey saved ye.

But the breaking news this morning wasn’t about stigma towards Tories or divisive language in politics… the breaking news was that the guy being arrested has Somali heritage and there have been links to Islamic extremism as a result. A recurring theme in British security concerns in the 21st century.

Here’s a thought… maybe it's something to do with British culture?

Yes, the 25-year-old in custody has Somali heritage but wait… aw nah he canny be British if he’s done sout like that. Aw it must be sout to do wi his heritage.

Its no like that when we’re championing Emma Raducanu for heroics in Tennis, a lass born in Canada who’s faither is Romanian and maw Chinese. No no no she’s a Brit. A true British great. But the boy that’s stabbed David Amess? Hmmm naw he’s got some heritage gawn on there, hink his family somewhere down the line were fae Somalia; a country were Sunni Muslim culture is rife.

I’m no saying Emma Radacanu isny British either… she is. I’m saying she has much closer ties to countries elsewhere than the boy that’s just been arrested for Amess’ murder and yet at the forefront of newspapers the day its aw about his Somalian heritage. We canny pick and choose where folk come from depending on whether it suits.

I’m also no saying there’s no way the links to Islamic extremism are true either. Believe me, I’m no sittin here saying an assessment from some top dog in the polis is wrong. But we do have a duty as citizens to react most appropriately. So, if the conversation in the next week is AW about Islamic extremism… surely we’re doing something wrong here.

Let's not throw the narrative in this direction again, we’ve been down this road and it isny progressive for anyone. Let's own up to our issues and ask questions of our society. Aw the guy was British? OK, let's ask the questions about what’s going wrong with Britain the now then… not point the finger elsewhere. The exact finger-pointing behaviour that’s got our society in an absolute rut, so much so that something like this would happen, in the first place.

Let's all put the finger down, whether you’re a politician or an ordinary punter like David Amess, and start having a look in the mirror.


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