Democracy – from the Greek, meaning literally “Rule by People”.
In 1972, I was nine. Too young to care about the EU, the existence of it or our entry into it.
I remember nothing of this event whatsoever. What I do remember was the initial out cry after about the fact we could no longer sell curly cucumbers in shops, they had to be straight. One of the first idiotic decisions made by Brussels on behalf of the British Nation.
Now fast-forward 47 years and here we are stuck the black hole desperately trying to leave it without being made bankrupt.
For me today it is no longer about whether I voted to remain or leave. The debacle that has become Brexit is now about democracy or the disintegration of its existence in what I had grown up believing was a democratic country.
In the year 1972, I remember vividly days where I would sit in the back of my father’s black cab driving through London and he would point out various landmarks of this fine capital city. One of course would be the Houses of Parliament – as we crossed the river Thames over Waterloo Bridge the iconic shape of the clock tower known affectionately as Big Ben stood sentinel by the embankment.
The gothic Palace of Westminster home to the House of Commons and the House of Lords was the bastion of British Democracy. It was never under question that we lived in a Democratic country and that the decision made in those buildings were for the good of the British Nation. They were voted in by us. They represented us.
April 13th 2019 Big Ben was shrouded in scaffolding. The face of the clock hidden. Was this symbolic? How the duplicity going on inside the House was passing unnoticed?
Now today in 2019 with the debacle of Britain’s attempt at leaving the EU I like many citizens question what we once accepted as an undeniable truth – is Britain a Democracy?
I have always encouraged people to take their vote at every opportunity. Especially women. The suffragettes fought for our right to vote as women. We owed it to them and ourselves to vote.
Now I am beginning to think why bother? What the Brexit has revealed is our votes mean nothing and our Government has been happily sending us down the Thames.
The first thing that came out of or vote to leave or remain in the EU was the way suddenly those who voted to stay not liking the result wanted another vote. That is not how a democracy works. It is not a case of I don’t like the result can we do it again.
If Tiger Roll hadn’t won the Grand National, there wouldn’t have been a re-run. As adults, you have to accept the result and live with it. You have to suck it up.
Even worse, subsequently we have found out our votes mean nothing. The MP’s are having the final decision trying now to change the course of our history for their own ends. Representatives in the house with criminal records are voting, making decisions for us when they should have stepped down from their positions when they were first caught out as blatant liars.
They have no business making decisions for the British Public. None of them now should be representing this Nation. So for once in my life, I decided I would march. Not against immigration, not against terrorism. Not against world poverty or Global Warming and any of the other issues, not against the extinction of rare species of wildlife we have on this planet. No just against the erosion of Democracy in the country I was born into and love so much.
Arriving at Parliament Square on Saturday it was a beautiful spring day. I have been on marches in the past. But not strangely enough for my own country. I have raised the Palestinian flag and marched for Gaza. Unfurled their flag in Portland Square in 2014. Marched for the cessation of the Israeli Bombing of Gaza.
When I wrapped the English flag across my shoulders it suddenly felt strange. Why? So many times, we have been told it has been racist for us to raise the flag for England. Was that why it felt strange?
Did I get a sense of centuries of British Colonialism being placed on my shoulders? A collective memory of guilt at how we turned the world pink on the Atlas?
I don’t think so but I do know it felt slightly strange. Waiting for the march to start we stood in the spring sunshine. The blossom on the trees, the sky unusually blue.
There was a round of applause when the orange men marched into the square. And shouts began, “What do want? Brexit. When do we want it? Now!”
“Goodbye EU goodbye”.
We joined the walk towards Downing Street. If there was meant to be an atmosphere of anarchy there definitely wasn’t. It was if we are all just going on an afternoon stroll. There were more police officers then protesters it seemed to me. And they were chatting away to us all as if it was an Easter Parade. Or a Royal Wedding was about to be held in Westminster Abbey.
So after a slow walk. I am afraid we did the very English thing of hitting the Red Lion pub, buying a cider and sitting outside in the warm sun watching the rest of the events from a chair with a pint in my hand.
Coats off, faces looking up to the sun. Was this the start of our glorious summer?
Whilst sitting there I felt vaguely reassured that it was all so civilised. This is what Britain is all about. No dramas, no violent outburst of civil unrest. No just a day out in London.
It was all summed up so eloquently, when I visited the ladies toilets.
“OH gawd, there is no toilet roll.” I heard from the cubicle next to me.
Her friend standing at the sink replied. “Drip and dry love. You voted to leave. You can endure worse than not having toilet roll.”
So all in all a terribly English affair. Although I do think, we could have got some of our French friends across the channel to come over and liven things up at bit. Those French certainly know how to protest!
Long live the Queen. Still not sure how much longer Democracy will last though!