A recent Report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission called Healing a Divided Britain written in the light of the Brexit vote says that the spike in racist hate crimes since that vote has revealed how entrenched racial inequality is in British Society. The report reveals how there are still massive gaps in equality in pay, in progress in work and in attitudes towards people who are from Ethnic Minorities. It also shows how much the tolerance and acceptance that once we were proud of as a Nation have evaporated in the past 30 years. So what has caused this cultural shift and how have we found ourselves in this unhappy and worrying place?
The rise of Capitalist and Monetarist policies under Margaret Thatcher and consequent Governments, both Tory and Labour, has led to the idea of the Individual before Community and Society. More and more people now are concerned with what is best for them as individuals and not about the effects on wider society. Whilst this has led, in some cases, to a liberalisation of personal rights it has also caused a mistrust and hatred of those who have different needs, views or thoughts. Capitalism at heart is about individual gain and lacks the desire or thought for anyone else, basically “If I’m alright the to hell with the rest”. Anyone seen to challenge that view is seen as a threat and must be treated with hostility.
So despite the best designs and desires of many to have, equal pay between men and women, the gap in pay has not shortened, at least not at the top. People of different ethnicity are often treated with disrespect in the work place and are not always on equal wages, and certainly don’t get the same opportunities in career progression. The rise of migrant workers into this country has maintained that inequality, because as many will take lower wages here in the UK because they are higher than where they have come from, there is no true desire to pay them the Real Living Wage. This is also coupled with the often atrocious living conditions they are forced into.
Worst still it has bred a society that sees “us” and “them”, which instead of embracing difference and used difference as a means of diving and separating. People get labelled as “immigrants”, “Muslims”, “scroungers” (all seen as negative in the way they are used). They get accused of “stealing or jobs, benefits and homes”. They are seen as being “beneath us” as “lower” as “bad”. Intolerance becomes rife.
Where once we embraced different cultures, faiths and beliefs now these are all seen as “dangerous”. The great Cultural Heritage we have as a Nation is built on those who have become part of our society over the Centuries from else where. Not one of us is fully “English” or of “pure Anglo-Saxon blood”. We are all, in the word of Billy Bragg, “English, half-English” and that is what makes our Society so wonderful. We need to re-embrace our roots and heritage, we need to return to being the tolerant, loving and caring Nation we were famed for being. We need the rejection of prejudice so we can live in a Society of togetherness, hope and love. In short we need to try to build the Kingdom of God, not the Kingdom of Selfish Greed.