20 years living overseas and I manage to repatriate to my home country, the UK, the day the Brexit results came in. As if repatriation wasn’t going to be hard enough without the added political and social turmoil that Brexit has created!
Suffice to say I was, and remain, shocked at the extent to which I seem to be out of touch with what is going on in the minds of the British people, or half of them anyway. I have, in my time away, kept reasonably abreast with what has been going on in the UK. Or so I thought. It is easy to form opinions when you are thousands of miles away and are unaffected by them. It is easy to form opinions when you are thousands of miles away and have a very global perspective on the world. I didn’t realize quite how different my view of the world and what is important to me is from the average person who engages in political or economic debate in the UK. It is a shock to realize that I just don’t get it anymore. And now, almost a year down the line, the results of a snap election are in and nothing is any clearer.
I just don’t get it. I have spent almost a year in the UK and have already experienced first hand the state of the education system. The local state funded secondary school, which is rated good by the government inspectors, is in such a dire state that I had to move the Teenager to a private school, which I frankly can’t afford, in order for him to be able to achieve what he is capable of. The local state primary school that the Tweenager attends is rated outstanding by the government inspectors, yet all they do is the 3Rs. There is no art, there is no music, and there are no foreign languages. They are limiting our children. And their funding is cut and cut and cut. There will be an entire generation of children who are brilliant at spelling and know their times tables inside out, but that will be the extent of it. There will be no creativity or any thinking outside of the boxes they are in. It is shortsighted and narrow-minded and yet people in this country seem to just accept.
University education is getting more and more expensive and will prohibit more and more capable young people from getting a decent education. The NHS seems to be in disarray, the welfare state is being cut back and cut back and cut back, the poor, the unemployed, the disabled, the elderly are all having their services cut and cut and cut. And that’s not even going anywhere near the impact of Brexit on my passport country!
After Brexit I realized that my social media feeds were full of people expressing the same opinions as me yet the policy responses of the current government were directly opposed to those opinions. So I decided to find out why I wasn’t seeing people expressing the opinions that reflected government policy. The answer was quite simply ‘cookies’. My social media feeds reflect what I look at on the Internet and are filtered to reflect my interests back to me. It has left me with a sense of being a bit out of kilter with what was actually happening in the political world. And when you feel a bit out of touch anyway because of repatriating after 20 years away it can induce a bit of an ‘am I going mad’ response! As it turns out, I am not going mad, I was just being ‘cookied’.
So in an attempt to uncookie myself, I started to look for other opinions. And as I read more public opinion about who to vote for in this upcoming election and why, I am shocked. I am shocked at just how out of touch I am with what people in the UK believe in. I am shocked to the core by it. I do not understand at all. I feel like I am standing still whilst everyone around is rushing past. People are running to a finish line that I can’t see and none of what they are shouting on the way resonates with me at all. My view of the world and of being a human being has moved in such a different direction to the cultural values of my home country that I am not sure who I am anymore. It is a very uncomfortable feeling.