It's not too late to change the debate - Jen Broadhurst

I’m angry.

Angry about a debate around the EU referendum which has been almost entirely about racism and free market economics. It’s been about white, suited men arguing with other white suited men about how many people from European nations are able to access public services in the UK, while ignoring the fact that EU migrants not only pay taxes but come here to work and prop up our austerity ridden services. 

Television and radio over the last few weeks has been dominated by people like Dr. Liam Fox complaining that our NHS can't employ doctors from Australia because we have to take doctors from the EU. This translates to we can't take nice white English speaking doctors because we're forced to take swarthy accented EU doctors. The important factor ought to be not where they are from but whether they are qualified to care for the sick.

This casual racism is allowed to pervade national radio, TV and print media because it suits those in power for us ordinary people to feel like we have to fight each other.

We don’t. We can change the narrative, we can show that hope and unity is strong. The NHS and the UK is not under threat from the EU. It is under threat from right wing policies and free market economics. These philosophies are persistently presented to us as being the only option. They are not. The risk for those of us on the left is that we turn off from the current EU arguments because they are being framed within this narrow right-wing position. The EU is currently following the centre right political agenda because that is who has been elected to power across the EU as the effects of financial crises and austerity policies continue to be felt.

The sound bites made by those who are allowed to dominate the conversation focus on immigration in a way which perpetuates racism and the worst type of nationalism. But because it is shrouded in a Union Flag and said by someone in a sharp suit, not a Burberry cap somehow makes it all ok. We must pull the debate back to being about what matters to us, for our families and communities. The opportunity our children have to study and work in an EU that promotes equality should not be taken away. I can choose to work and live in any part of the EU at present and my rights as a woman are very much stronger for being an EU citizen.

We cannot allow this referendum to be centred on racist rhetoric that feeds on the fear and genuine concerns people have for employment and public resources. We must instead turn our attention on to the fact that the fight for scarce resources is being forced upon us by centre-right political ideology where only one type of person wins and it’s not you or me.

Another type of Europe is possible; but only if we open our eyes and see that across Europe people share the same ideals as we do – to prosper, to share our cultures and grow in our learning of one another. That’s the real Europe and those are the values that will be making me vote remain.

​- Jen Broadhurst, Ayrshire Greens Co-Convenor