Thanet Star

Post-Brexit Thanet

The dust is settling, to some degree, after the referendum results were announced. We have a new Prime Minister, the Cabinet has been changed, and now people are left wondering how the result will affect them. So what does all this mean for Thanet?

Unfortunately, the answer is money. A lot less of it.

Between 2000 and 2006, Thanet directly received 26m in EU funding, including: 3.2m for a new electricity sub-station and improved electricity infrastructure to increase capacity and support industrial development within the area; 700,000 for the Thanet Campus Phase 2, with a bias on business and technology; and 1.3m for the Thanet Innovation Centre.

Thanet has also benefited from EU grants worth millions for the High Speed 1 rail link which runs between Margate and London; improved energy efficiency and lighting within Kent schools; investment into nature reserves; Chamber of Commerce, the promotion of business and enterprise, Business Link, and self-employment training for those starting businesses; funding to support and help 5000 'at risk' teenagers across Kent and Medway; English, Maths and IT training to Level 2 for adults who did not achieve qualifications in school; supporting the tourism industry throughout Kent; preserving archaeological heritage and local history; Sure Start centres throughout Thanet; grants for the harbour and refurbishment of the historic arches in Ramsgate, Viking Bay in Broadstairs, the Turner Contemporary and the Creative Quarter in Margate.

As of now, we need to look at how we are going to move forward as a community without financial support like that in the future. Infrastructure, new businesses, arts and culture, coastlines, tourism; somehow we need to continue supporting these areas, as without them Thanet is doomed to slump.

Whatever way I try and write this piece, I cannot offer good news. Both sides, Leave and Remain, have had to acknowledge that the promises made during the referendum campaign were hollow and without substance, and now we all face a new reality together that we have made. The big changes in government are just the start, and so much more is going to happen over the coming months and years it is almost impossible to predict the outcome, other than places like Thanet will once again be side-lined.

We need to pull together to prevent Thanet drifting back into the gloom. This vibrant area is a wonderful place to live, and the positivity and proactivity of the residents will surely prevail, no matter what challenges come our way. Simply put, we need to cast our differences aside and unite to save Thanet.

About Seb: When he is not writing guest posts for Thanet Star Seb Reilly is an amateur writer and occasional musician from Thanet. Seb maintains a website at www.sebreilly.com.
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UKIP & Tory Councillors vote in favour of racism

The motion before Thanet District Council tonight was a simple one, agree to continue to oppose racism and discrimination. But, the UKIP and Troy councillors were united in opposition.

Tonight Thanet District Council, under the direction of UKIP and Conservative councillors, voted in favour of racism in Thanet.

The motion, which was met by applause from the public, was quickly squashed by UKIP with a motion to not debate the motion.

A point of order was raised pointing out that by not allowing ten minutes for debate the motion would "fall" and therefore would be rejected by the council sending the message that Thanet District Council did not plan to continue to oppose racism.

This was met by smirks from UKIP councillors.

A vote was taken on whether or not the council should debate the motion (or reject it) and every UKIP, every Tory (as far as I could see) and everyone else with the exception of four Labour councillors swiftly voted to allow the motion to fall.

As the vote by show of hands was called there was a hush of disbelief from the public. As the vote was counted there were hisses and cries of this says so much, not in my name, and you're a disgrace from the public.

It fell to the public to remind councillors this goes on record, but they ignored the public and pressed forward with a near-united vote.

The public became more agitated with general cries of protest and not-too-subtle suggestions that each vote was a racist vote.

Tonight the UKIP and Tory councillors in TDC voted against an anti-racism motion allowing it to fall without debate. Thereby indicating that not only were they not in favour of pledging to have the council continue to oppose racism but they were not willing to even allow it to be discussed.

This was followed by a large-scale angry walkout by all or most of the general public.

Only five Labour councillors voted in support of the motion.

This is our council at work. Voting in favour of racism.

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Racism in politics is corrupting everything.

In the last few days we have seen commentary that the Brexit vote was a victory for racism something I questioned but found hard to disagree with.

I agree that not everyone who voted leave was racist. So now we have a leave result how can we who are not racist (both leave and remain) work together to reduce race hate in Britain?

There were a number of reasons for voting Leave. Any of those reasons that involved "kicking them out" or blaming "them" for our problems was, even if we don't like to admit it to ourselves, racist.

And that's the problem. How do we separate the race hate tint and get it out of politics once and for all?

After all no one should want to see more of this:

And yet that is what we are seeing. For example, independent.co.uk recently published a headline Racism lies at the heart of the vote to leave the EU, says leading asylum campaigner

Racism is to blame for Britain voting to leave the EU, a leading asylum campaigner has said.

Mubina Irfan, leader of the Scottish Refugee Policy Forum, said the Brexit vote will have a damaging effect on asylum seekers fleeing terror in other countries.

Thanet politics is already angry, divisive, and tribal enough without race being added to the mix.

Post Brexit vote, how do we address racism as we build whatever post-EU Britain might be?

On a local level, how do we build a racially tollerant Thanet in a country that looks to be exiting the EU?

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Was Brexit a racist vote?

The day after the referendum result David Chitty wrote a column with the headline The Racists Have Won and it was not universally well received. Some folks felt quite offended. My intention was to counter that with my own opinion piece but, you know what, I sort of see where David is coming from. It is very hard not to see the leave vote as something corrupted by the stink of racial hatred.

Just after the results came in Alisdair Calder McGregor wrote (here) The public have, throughout the EU referendum campaign, been systematically lied to, deceived and manipulated by the Brexit campaign.

I'm actually trying to disagree with David, but the fact of the matter is that isolationism and increasingly acceptable levels of casual racism was how World War Two got started. Most of Germany was made up of normal people, but they were lied to about who was to blame. The racists won then, without a doubt.

The only difference is that this time we are not talking about the negro problem or them damn Jews stealing our jobs (Germany, prior to the war). This time, the acceptable phrase is refugee crisis and immigration problem which has already resulted in "camps" to put them in. Camps that increasingly have high fences and armed guards.

I take the point that many of you made that it is inaccurate to suggest that 17,410,742 people are racists. I did not see David's article that way but, then again, I should have gone to bed two days ago. No honestly, under three hours sleep across two nights is really taxing.

Even so, it is now a fact that at some point over the last two years starting a sentace with I'm not racist but... stopped being a thing that we laughed at and became a way to feel good about our own racism. And I say our racism because, unless you were born after after 1990, to some degree or another we are all racist.

This background level radiation of own racism is so ingrained with who we are, and how we were brought up, that we don't even notice it. Not until we stop to listen to ourselves. Hands up anyone over the age of thirty that did not tell or laugh at a joke that started what do you call an Ethiopian... (insert something weird to complete the set-up)?

That shit, right there, is racist. Not funny and cultural insensitive but out-right ethnicity bias. Don't sugar coat it - we are on the cusp of being certifiably xenophobic. Leave and remain voters alike.

Racism, it turns out, is subtle. It works by separating a group from the idea of real human beings, with the ability to feel pain just like you. Racism replaces that humanity with a generic "them". Some other that is just a caricature of human. "They" stop being individuals with hopes and dreams and become part of the mass enemy that all our ills can be blamed on. As in they are taking our jobs and our benefits simultaneously, or they should go home (even though we bombed the hell out of it), and they are the reason I have no work and not because I am a bit lazy and all the easy jobs went after Torys and/or Labour screwed up our economy again.

The truth is, we are just making excuses for our own inability to elect a decent government that knows what it is doing and doesn't want to do unspeakable things to us, and/or our bank accounts, in a dark alleyway.

The "they" are rarely even capable of even being part of the problem, let alone the central cause of all your misery. Meanwhile, the bankers and traders that lost your money, and the government that let them and then imposed "austerity" (which was supposed to be for our own good but was actually just to pay for bailing out the idiots who caused all this), the ones who we should actually blame, they get off scott free. In fact, we have tended to thank them for bending us over and going in dry and then begged them to do it again.

What happened this week was, after voting for a government that promised to shit on us from a great height and then being surprised at getting shat on repeatedly, we somehow brought the idea that all the other kids in the yard were responsible and then we voted to take our ball and go home. All the while thinking that we are better off playing a team sport in our garden because surely all the cool kids would come and hang with us now that we are Billy No-Mates.

Are we all stupid racists?

Apparently, the answer to that is, yes we are. At least in part. All of us.

Well, I am sick of it. I'm sick of the casual racism. I'm sick of hearing uninformed loudmouths blaming nationalities; there is no reason for race to be a factor to consider in problems the government, that we voted for, created (like they promised they would). I'm sick of this ridiculous notion that some of us should get preferential treatment just because we happened to accidentally be born in the UK rather than, say, Syria.

We are all people. We all need sleep (I know I do). We all hurt. We all need food, water, shelter and a little love. It's not rocket science.

So when regular guest writer David Chitty says the racists have won, is he saying we are all racists? I hope not, because we're not. Well, not completely anyway.

We are going to be talking about this topic and other issues of the post-Brexit vote for some time to come. Thanet Star will be accepting submissions from anyone from or connected to Thanet with thoughts to share on the subject.
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The Racists Have Won

It finally happened. Democracy has well and truly failed.

Today has marked the start of the dramatic decline of the United Kingdom, as well as Europe. Great Britain decided that they no longer wished to be part of the European Union that we helped start, to stop another war breaking out across the continent. There were numerous economical, social, political and democratic reasons why we should have stayed. I'm sure there were many of those reasons to leave. But they weren't the ones being reported. The main issue on why we left? Immigration.

I've held my tongue for a long time about the state of affairs in our country. I can't do it anymore. I can't watch history repeat itself and sit back while the world burns around me.

In recent times a trend has been appearing across social media, news media and the political agendas. An acceptable level of racism. It has become more than socially acceptable to be racist, we're almost encouraged to be. As long as the target is someone that is acceptable to be racist towards.

Find one of the numerous Facebook posts or news articles that are out there, replace "immigrants" or "Europeans" with "black people" and see how abhorred you are with that sentiment. Imagine if Donald Trump had said that he wanted to send all black people to Africa and build a wall around that to keep them in there instead of Mexicans in Mexico. There wouldn't even be calls for him to step down from the race. He would be taken out of the race. And that's where the problem starts. It's happened before and it will happen again if this is allowed to continue.

As we demonise a group of people, we dehumanise them. We begin to view them as less than us. Hitler waged war on the Jewish population and recruited an army to do the same. I'm not saying that members of the Nazi party or army were nice people, but not all of them actively hated Jewish people. Some of them joined up to defend their country and the country that they loved. It didn't stop them from throwing people into a gas chamber because of their faith, did it?

In the early nineteen hundreds, the Black community was terrorised by the Klu Klux Klan. They were being hunted and demonised because of the colour of the skin or where they came from. The KKK were (are) evil. But normal people were more than happy to let black people sit on the back of the bus because they were the lesser citizens.

These past atrocities were beyond words. But they're started to sound familiar. Legitimate political parties blame European citizens for all of our problems, just like Hitler blamed the Jews. Members of the public believe that European immigrants deserve less than us, aren't worth as much as a British Citizen, because of where they were born. Or their faith. I'm not saying that if you voted to leave that you're as bad as the KKK or the Nazis, but I'm implying it.

One of the most horrible things to come from this, however, is that there were legitimate reasons to want to leave the EU. People could have voted to leave because of real reasons, not because they're racist or think foreigners steal all their jobs and benefits.

The problem is, that because the voice of "get rid of the foreigners" has won, and they're a part of that voice, then, I'm sorry, but I can't see those types of people escaping that racist voice and having their own. History tells us that those people won't and therefore will continue to go with the flow until they potentially start throwing European immigrants into a gas chamber.

But it's happened now. We've left, the racists have won and I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. I'm scared of what the future is going to bring. Our future is now in our hands, as time moves on more choices will come up.

If you voted to leave, I hope next time a decision comes our way that pushes us further down this path, that I think we're on, that you make the right decision, whatever that may be. If you voted to stay, this isn't the end. We must keep trying to make this world a better place. A safe place for everyone. Because, at the minute, I don't think the UK is a very safe place for immigrants.

David Chitty is a Thanet local who spends far too much time tending to his beard. He can be found on davidchitty.com or on Facebook.
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