March for Europe
A few weeks back I took part in the March for Europe, ahead of the impending activation of Article 50, triggering the formal start of Britain’s departure from the European Union - But I’m super slow getting pictures off my camera, so I’m only reflecting on this now…
This is the second anti-brexit march I’ve been on, and I’m sure there will be many more. I’m surprised just how personally I’ve taken the outcome of the referendum, it has altered my political priorities, and even my perception of society at large: I’m now not really sure where my votes will go come a general election, as reversing brexit has become my top priority, and my usual party, the Greens, are just being a little too quiet about that so far, the Lib Dems certainly aren’t quiet… and Labour is fucking disaster. Meanwhile brexit seems to have been the final hammer blow to my tolerance for the older generations who reaped all the advantages of post-war growth and have now lumbered their offspring with funding their bloated and privileged lifestyles, departing Europe, and the curse of climate change and environmental destruction at large. Thanks old people! Most of all though I feel like some part of my cultural identity is being ripped away from me; my citizenship is as much European as it is British, and now half of that is being taking away, due to the will of a tiny majority of an electorate gerrymandered to ignore the will of millions of Europeans who are part of British society, and millions of 16 and 17 year olds who should have been given a say in their own futures - The real majority of this country doesn’t even want brexit!
Anyway, I digress from the march itself… It was eye-opening in some ways, that I could finally gain some understanding of some of the nationalist urges to flock to iconography. I’ve never felt pride at seeing the British flag fly, I think nation states are an absurd and outdated concept, and our flag especially is steeped in historical colonial baggage. Yet walking among a forest of EU flags I’ve never felt more pride in symbolism - Is this what those who wave British and English flags feel too? It’s interesting to be slipping into a parallel of the mindset of those I oppose!
There were a lot of very personal protests going on among the crowd. The sense of fear from other Europeans who have made their lives in Britain and now face an insecure future was disturbing to say the least. Our government’s refusal to grant immediate assurances about their future status is disgusting, and also harmful to the British people they purport to defend the rights of. Europeans living in Britain are our colleagues, our friends, neighbours, family, lovers, and children. It’s bad enough that we are treating them like some bothersome burden to the country, but even if your only priority is British people, you must surely see this hurts communities here too by destroying friendships, relationships, and families. It’s vile.
No less than Captain Picard made the point, with a suitably Star Trek-esque world view, in address the crowd as we rallies in Parliament Square: “It’s only in unity that we can we be secure”. The EU for me is a sign of peace, of equality of opportunity, protections, and rights, freedom to move, love, and live where you please. We serve no one by competing with our neighbours; it just means someone loses out when someone else proposers. But together we are better, we look after each other. That has to be our future, and I’m damned well not giving up on it.