Tuesday 12 July 2016

More in common - tackling intolerance and prejudice

There were more than sixty of us gathered at Westcliff United Reformed Church in Kings Road (Leigh-on-Sea) last night as part of the #MoreInCommon campaign being run by Hope Not Hate. It was an informal gathering, a space for shared ideas, experiences, and suggestions as to how we deal with the recent rise in hate crimes.

The Facebook preamble puts it thus:

I think it’s fair to say that the last month has knocked many people’s confidence in the Britain they know and love.

From the brutal murder of Jo Cox, to some of the toxic images and messages distributed during the Referendum campaign, as well as the reports of hostility and even hate crimes against Europeans living and working in Britain since the announcement of the result, there’s a feeling that something has changed for the worse.

It would be a huge mistake to assume that the vast majority of people who voted to leave the EU were motivated by racism. People voted to leave for a whole number of reasons, only some of which were related to concerns about immigration.

In fact, there is a danger that such an assumption will actually push people from working-class communities who voted heavily for Brexit towards the politics of fear and hate at the very time we should be reaching out and helping them step away from such negativity.

Later this week, HopeNotHate will launch a campaign called #MoreInCommon to bring divided communities together and challenge the narratives of fear and hate.

I will, of course, play my part in creating a more tolerant society. I will also be encouraging all that see any incident of racism and intimidation not to walk on the other side but to tackle it - whether that be direct intervention or by reporting it to the police.

I have submitted the following question to the next Full Council (21st July)

I am proud to live in a diverse and tolerant society. Racism, xenophobia and hate crimes have no place in our country.  I hope that we, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, will condemn racism, xenophobia and hate crimes unequivocally. We should not allow hate to become acceptable. 

Can the Leader assure me that Southend-on-Sea Borough Council will work to ensure local bodies and programmes have the support and resources needed to fight and prevent racism and xenophobia?

Further, will the Leader reassure all people living in Borough of Southend-on-Sea that they are valued members of our community?

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