Today, the hottest day of the year, I’ve been fortunate to be able to spend a day watching cricket…. Nothing more relaxing than that and nothing more so traditionally English. I was at Trent Bridge in Nottingham because, like PT reporter, Mr Joel Lamy, I am a Nottinghamshire supporter….. well someone has to! Why Notts you may well ask: well it’s a nice ground, they do lovely cream teas and it’s the easiest county cricket ground to get to from Peterborough by public transport. But the week before last, I went to Wimbledon to watch tennis: again a very English thing to do but I was supporting a Scotsman, Andy Murray. Let me add that in football, I support West Ham: but let’s leave that for another article.
What I am getting at is that we all have multiple levels of identity. We are all individuals but we are also social animals and like to associate with others who share our passions in sport or in other aspects of life. The internet and social media has made this much easier. I can talk to my best friend in Australia on Facebook and seconds later be talking to people in several other countries on Twitter, Periscope or several other platforms.
The recent EU referendum has brought identity into focus as never before. We may conclude from the result that 52% of the UK population do not see themselves primarily as Europeans …but we must also note that the other 48% clearly do. In Scotland, it’s even more complicated, as a clear majority of people there seem to see being Scottish and being European as possibly more important them than being British. Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron, has been taking a really strong stance since the referendum that Lib Dem remain a pro-european party and that we will stand on this platform at the next general election. As a result, Lib Dem membership nationally has gone up by over 15,000 since the referendum.
Peterborough people voted to leave the EU by a 60 to 40 margin, a much smaller margin than had been predicted by some. But one of the reasons I am proud to live in Peterborough is that it is in general a really tolerant place. Somewhere where people from many different geographical origins live in relative harmony side by side. When EDL organised a march in Peterborough, the different faith and ethnic groups reacted by organising a prayer service in the Cathedral …that was a very moving occasion.
Identity is a good thing and is part of what we are. When it becomes a problem is when it turns into hatred of someone else’s identity. Some very unpleasant things about immigrants and immigration were said by some in the Leave campaign and the infamous UKIP poster is one example of this. This was a direct cause of some of the incidents of abuse of people from other countries that we saw in many parts of the country in the immediate aftermath of the referendum.
Whatever our future immigration policy, we must ensure that those EU citizens who are currently in the UK legally are allowed to stay. A petition has been launched and, if you want to sign it, please go to http://tiny.cc/lib-dem-stay