As the Conservative Party Conference continues, I’ve been listening out for some of the soundbites embedded within speeches, placed there with the intention of being picked up by the press and rattled around the workplaces and pubs of the UK, in the way they are intended it to hit home: catchy words and phrases that make the government’s position sound credible.
As most of you know: one of my specialisms is to undertake analysis of the ways in which politicians speak – in particular, the ‘rhetorical strategies’ (strategies for persuasion) they utilise, specifically in order to persuade people to agree with them.
One that really stood out this morning, as I was undertaking discourse analysis of speeches to date, was this one, which was tweeted at 4:28pm on Sunday 29 September 2019:
“THIS IS ABOUT RESPECT. This isn’t just about the 17.4 million people who voted leave. It’s about respecting democracy. #GetBrexitDone…”
At least, for a change, it’s not Mr Johnson I’m putting under the linguistic microscope. But what is being said here?
We can unpack the hashtag easily: it’s the standard three-word strategy; it’s catchy, includes hard-sounding consonants, and you could imagine someone banging the side of the hand into their opposite palm as they articulate these words: GET. BREXIT. DONE. It’s a command, authoritarian. It makes it sound simple. A simple demand, an imperative. From whom, you’ll note? Are they saying it to themselves? Of course not: it’s for you, the voter, to repeat, repeat, repeat and rally behind. Anything else is wrong. Not hard to see what it’s doing when you take a moment to unpack it.
Population, Respect, Democracy
We have all, at some level, discussed how 17.4 million equates to roughly a quarter of the UK’s population, and how the Conservative 2015 manifesto pledge to uphold the result, seemingly at any cost, has perpetuated the issue. That’s not what I’m going to focus on here: it’s respect within the context of a democracy that interests me most here, as it’s selling something else this time: respecting democracy.
Respect is defined as a positive feeling or action shown towards someone or something considered important, or held in high esteem or regard. In conveys a sense of admiration for good or valuable qualities.
Democracy is a system of government where citizens exercise power by voting.
And let’s not forget: Parliament is sovereign.
Democracy is not simply about ‘winning’ and ‘losing’; it’s about empowering citizens, about giving them a voice. This raises the question as to why EU citizens – members of any of the other 27 states – are not empowered in their places of residence in the UK, and whether or not, in this global world, this ought now to be up for review.
If Brexit, at this late stage, is about respecting the empowerment of ‘the people’, it is about respecting all those who are able to vote, regardless of the outcome of any vote. It does not negate a portion of them, nor does it de facto negate any respect for those unable to vote in this country.
If you respect democracy, you respect the right for people to vote. It does not give you the right to disrespect the voices of those with a different viewpoint who have the same rights as you, or who are not empowered with such rights.
I maintain that this government has lost sight of what respect means in this democracy:
Where is the positive feeling or action shown towards the 75% of the country not mentioned in that soundbite?
To negate their voice is tantamount to implying that they are not considered important, or held in high esteem or regard, admired or considered to have good or valuable qualities. And there, as Shakespeare would say, is ‘the rub’.
Respect is a two-way street, and this government appears exacerbated at best, and otherwise indifferent to the voices raised that do not agree with roughly one quarter of the population of the UK on one issue.
Representing everyone in Uxbridge and South Ruislip
This lack of respect for all by Mr Johnson and other members of the present and recent government is exactly why I have made the move into politics. I may not agree with you on some matters, but I will always, always listen, respond, and act on your behalf, in a manner that ensures you are respected and helped.
That’s what MPs (and PPCs) should do. The flagrant posturing and ridiculing of some demographics within constituencies by MPs and PPCs horrifies me. If you ridicule people who tend to vote for one party, or hold a particular faith or stance before you’re (re)elected, how can they possibly trust you to respect them when you are elected? I’ve seen too much of this is Uxbridge and South Ruislip and it has to stop.
Sir John Randall, former MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, remains held in high esteem. I may not have always agreed with some of the policies he represented as a member of the Conservatives but he has always – and always will – have my respect. He has worked tirelessly for our community. I am grateful for our exchanges on social media, and look forward to future discussions whereby I can learn from his experience and wisdom.
Alliance refers to a relationship among people, groups, or states that have joined together for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose, whether or not explicit agreement has been worked out among them.
It is through alliance that many of the 3/4s of the population negated by this government can help each other. It’s a means of coming together to enable that common purpose be heard: that Remainers and the voiceless are worthy of respect, and that they have something to say (that is, that the best deal is the one we already have within the EU.) I’m sure that I’m not the only one frustrated by the seeming minimal progress in Remain Alliance talks to date. It’s why I decided to be proactive, not reactive, and seek independent, local agreements. An alliance with Renew has already been announced, and I will finalise other agreements this week; so further announcements are pending. I am grateful for all the support I receive from HQ on this – not least that from Sir Ed Davey, and our President, Baroness Brinton.
Social media and Momentum attacks (yes, we see you) have tried to say that the Liberal Democrats stand no or little chance in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, utilising the 2017 result for this purpose. I was not the candidate then; it was essentially a paper candidacy, and a lot has changed since 2017…
Attacks targeted at me over austerity and student fees? I was not a member of the party then and have never, ever agreed with either. Indeed, I’ve been consistently vocal in my opinion that they were wrong, and I appreciate my party’s benevolence on this.
So what am I then, and what can I offer as a candidate? I am a specialist in tackling hate speech, in unpacking political spin and exposing it for what it really is, and I run initiatives to help communities to come together and grow.
Whatever your usual voting pattern: hopefully would you at least agree that this is exactly the sort of expertise that is needed right now – in the constituency who’s current MP is happy to describe Muslim female Brunel students as ‘letterboxes’?
I taught these very topics – how to be respectful, tackle hate (such as xenophobia, anti-semitism, and Islamophobia), and how to be kind to everyone – at Brunel University for 10 years in the English department; I have dedicated the bulk of my professional life to helping my community grow from strength to strength, and I’m not about to give up on it now.
Will I split the vote? No. The Brexit Party will split the hard-right vote for me. (Thanks!) I have an independent Remain alliance, and, whilst this does not presently include the young Labour (Momentum) candidate, it is a wide, strong, and supportive alliance. The Labour candidate’s strengths lay in being a respected and active local councillor, whilst he gains more experience and maturity in this world. In my opinion, this won’t be the election that will see him into parliament but it won’t be his last time as candidate either. I respect his tenacity and drive.
Bottom line: I respect everyone, will do everything I can to be your voice and advocate in parliament, and will make a positive impact on our vibrant community.
Save the date! 12 October 2019, Uxbridge, 10am – 12 noon.
This is your opportunity to join me and be a part of something special!
Let’s be a positive, respectful force for good in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, and let’s be the change we want to see.
This meeting will be your chance to join my campaign. Whatever your skills and abilities, however you can help, it will be greatly appreciated. Come meet me and my team, and let’s work together to make a difference in Uxbridge and South Ruislip.
I am delighted that I will be joined on this day by Julie Girling (ex MP and MEP), the interim leader of the Renew party and our inaugural local alliance partner, as well as other alliance partners to be announced shortly.
If you’d like to join us or have any questions, you can contact me via email at:
Weekly Monday updates
So this represents the first in a series of weekly updates I will add to this site on Mondays. If there are any issues you’d like me to discuss online, then please do get in touch.
In the coming week my team will also commence bespoke emails to various communities in the constituency (such as schools, health professionals, faith groups). If you’d like adding to any group, please let us know.
Let’s keep conversations going, and help us to help you.