Divide and Conquer


Divide and Conquer is one of the oldest tricks in the book and it is exactly that which is happening to us at the moment. The Divide and Conquer ‘devices’ are listed as being:

Skin colours, Religions, Social Customs, Nationalities, Languages, Class or Caste Systems, Political preferences, Professional specialisation, Academic specialisation, Individual troubles, sufferings, and discontent.

I have just spent two weeks with a friend and we are different in every single thing on that list except for skin colour. We are both English by birth but even our language had to be explained by both of us as many Essexisms were foreign to her and she uses words that I have never heard of. We disagree on pretty much everything to do with politics, religion and all the other supposedly big stuff that would normally mean that we wouldn’t find ourselves in the same room and she is one of the kindest people that I have ever known. We sat and talked about our different views on the world and it was a breath of fresh air to be able to hear someone talking from the heart about stuff that is alien to my world.

And this is the thing. With all this shouting from the rooftops of different opinions we only ever get to hear the scree, the top layer of anger of what people have to say. We don’t actually sit and listen to what comes from their heart, what they are actually afraid of or passionate about and why. All we hear is ‘Bleeding hearts’ ‘Rascists’ Terrorists’ and all the other scree of anger being bandied about. As people feel they are not being heard so their voices get louder and we become more divided.

I find it incredulous that we have reached this point in time. This referendum shouldn’t even be happening if the country was being led by anyone with a minimum of a backbone but I fear that the purpose is to conquer and divide rather than to have any sensible debate or, as some people think, reach a democratic decision. It feels that it is anything but democratic. It has culminated this week in a young woman losing her life, a husband losing his wife and two young children growing up without their mother. All as a result of bile and hatred. The reports then serve to divide on so many levels. The fact that he is classed as having mental health problems we then slip back into the comfortable and ancient narrative of people with mental health problems being gun wielding maniacs, that if he was a Muslim he would be called a terrorist, that he is right wing so all right wing people are fascists. It covers the whole spectrum of prejudice and hatred. And we are sleep walking right into it all. Drip drip of hatred and we just shrug our shoulders and say it’s probably something to do with Europe or immigrants or people with mental health problems or money or money or money. Because basically that’s what it comes down to – money and power.

Proof and intuition are two different things and with the current narrative of absolute sodding madness that is swirling between people’s ears, the one risks robbing the other. We have no proof that there are zillions of pounds being spent in Europe. We have no proof that the NHS will be better off out of Europe. We have no proof of so many things, not a single one of us can say where this money is if, indeed, it exists at all but that is what the whole discussion is based upon. I don’t believe that there is one single person that has proof or actually knows what is happening. It would be impossible for one single person to be able to hold all the information necessary in their head to be able to give an answer with all the necessary proof. We do have our intuition and that is based on a myriad of things and should not be mixed up with proof.

To have read an article in the Daily Mail is not proof. Years ago I wrote my dissertation on the portrayal of social workers in the media and it transpired that only 7% of what was written in the Daily Mail was actual fact. That is an aside but people are basing their opinions on the 93% of fiction. I strongly believe that the media should be prosecuted for incitement of hatred. If anyone of us stood up in the street and spouted the vile words that are printed for all to read, we would, quite rightly, be arrested but for some reason the media are able to just keep churning out this stuff that is dividing the nation.

In a village near me there are huge posters shouting Vote Out and my intuition tells me that this is deeply uncomfortable. Not for the people’s opinions but for the force with which they feel they have to state their opinions and how impossible it feels to have an open and honest dialogue with someone who plasters the entire front of their garage with something that feels only a short skip and hop away from a swastika. Neighbours pitted against neighbours. Friends against friends. Family members against their own.My son and I are born from two different European countries. He is, essentially, an immigrant and one who, if this loaded ‘debate’ was anything to go by, I am meant to be hating by now. It feels that just two years ago it would have been impossible to imagine the place that we have now arrived at in this country. A place where something akin to a civil war is no longer a distant ridiculous notion.

I do still cling to the faith that people actually like a good person. There are good people trying to work for this country as the legacy of Jo Cox tells us. These good people are surrounded by sharks though and being fed so deliciously by the hatred being spoon fed to us, by greed, by short sighted me me me. There is no me me me. I cling to some sort of hope that the tragedy of this week will bring some people to their senses but time will tell.

Whatever happens after Thursday will have its own consequences but the damage has already been done. The damage, I fear, that was planned all along which was to divide the nation, divide the power of the people, to get people hating one another to the point of murder. How the hell has it got to the point where a young woman who has been campaigning against war, against bombing innocent people, who has worked alongside refugees, who has tirelessly worked for her community, become the person who is to be hated. Somehow it has reached the point where wishing well for your fellow human is seen as a fault. It is utterly baffling. Whichever way this farce of vote goes, in or out of Europe, will work itself out in the fullness of time with whatever that brings with it but the damage caused by dividing the nation, not just the nation but the ripples that go far beyond our shores, will leave a scar that will take a great deal longer to heal.