On the morning of 24th June 2016 my world was turned upside down, the UK had voted to leave the EU! I couldn’t believe the British public had been duped into this. What did this mean for my family, my Polish partner and step son? And then the overwhelming sense of guilt hit me as I hadn’t even made the effort to vote myself. I’d failed to enact my democratic right, through apathy, a belief that as a nation we collectively had the sense to see through the lies, the threat this posed to our freedom & democracy and understand that only malevolent parties would benefit.
But this was my awakening, the anger, the fear and drive to act, the determination and hope to fight for a better future. I became politically active, a party activist, ran a party twitter account, campaigned, joined protests, all things I had never done before, far outside my comfort zone, but I had to do something, I had to try and make a difference. I got to know some great people, some truly inspiring and a few politicians who I genuinely admired, who put their principles, integrity and country before party loyalty and career. Even though this endeavour eventually failed, it provided me invaluable experience and instilled me with the belief that change was possible, that people ordinary people could make a difference with the appropriate motivation and if mobilised effectively.
My Grandfather served in the RAF during WWII as an engineer on Wellington bombers. The stories he told me of his experiences sparked my interest in history and world events at a young age. I watched the news regularly and have so many pivotal events etched in my memory. The Solidarity movement in Poland and fall of the communist regime. The end of the civil war in Lebanon that consumed such a beautiful country and people. The fall of the Berlin Wall, the fall of communism across central and eastern Europe. The dissolution of the Soviet Union and Ukraine, Belarus and Georgia finally gaining their independence. Then such awful events, like the Yugoslav wars, the return of ethnic cleansing and concentration camps in Europe. All this has shaped my lens on the world, my love of those that have the courage to resist, to fight for their freedom and democracy. My absolute intolerance of authoritarian regimes, dictators, fascists, populists and injustice.
Now we see the world at a tipping point again with the resurgence of the far right, Putin’s Russia seeking to restore its former empire, Putin waging his hybrid war on the free world and propping up authoritarian regimes, once strong democracies succumbing to Russian interference, to xenophobia, corruption, nationalism, populism and fascism. This represents a clear and present danger to the survival of freedom and democracy. Our governments, politicians, democratic institutions, security services are either to weak to counter this assault or already compromised. Thus we can only rely upon ourselves to resist, only the people who can unite in common cause to defend our collective democracy. Thus I’m doing what I can to reach out across borders in solidarity, to unite in resistance, to help spread awareness and to shine a light on those dark forces waging a war on democracy.