Time to turn the tide on hatred

Summer should be a time of warmth and light, but weather aside, there seems precious little of either quality around at the moment. In post-referendum, pre-Brexit politics; kindness, tolerance and respect seem to be in short supply.

While Germany has been rocked by a series of shocking attacks, the UK seems to be embroiled in violent language and public expressions of hatred.

The referendum vote, and the quality of the discourse around it, seem to have emboldened some to unleash a hatred and xenophobia that threatens the very nature of our society.

On the streets, those from Eastern and central Europe, as well as others thought to be migrant workers, are being told to “go home”.

On social media, a tide of nastiness has swept through discussions about Europe, about immigration, about politics and the Labour Party leadership contest.

Just weeks after the murder of Labour MP and UNISON member Jo Cox, people are once again using inflammatory language and insulting labels in what should be a mature debate among members of the same party.

And the same goes for UNISON. We have a long and proud tradition of respect for differing views – it’s what makes our union strong. We are mature enough to discuss, debate and differ, but then we move on together. And I will defend and uphold this tradition and UNISON will take action against any member who thinks they can hurl abuse or bully or intimidate others on social media.

Surely it is time for all of us to take responsibility for cooling the political and social temperature, stepping back from the brink and finding ways to build bridges rather than barricades? Hatred and contempt have no place in our politics and should have no place in our communities.

Campaigning organisation Hope Not Hate has launched a campaign to encourage local communities to organise local #MoreinCommon events – using the phrase made famous by Jo Cox that we have more in common than that which divides us.

So however you voted in the referendum and however you might vote in the Labour leadership election, why not take a stand against hatred and get involved in a local activity designed to bring our communities back together?

You can find out more on the Hope not Hate website.