“I live in a Britain where there is increasing poverty.
The gap between the rich and poor has been growing for 30 years and the richest 10 per cent now have 850 times the wealth of the poorest 10 per cent (Pickett and Wilkinson, 2014).
Support for mainstream political parties is dwindling whilst support for the UKIP party along with intensification of hatred for minorities, especially immigrants, is growing. Civil liberties and rights in many areas have been curtailed – from access to legal aid to welfare benefits.
Society in 2020
If this trajectory continues what sort of society will exist in 2020?
There are many similarities for me with Germany between the two World Wars and the conditions that facilitated the rise of Hitler and Nazism. I know this because my mum was a German war bride – she was not Jewish or a refugee. She married my dad who was a soldier from Blackburn.
I grew up knowing there had been a war between the British and the Germans but it was referred to a bit like a football match –‘we beat the Jerries!’ Visits to my mum’s small town were regular and my extended family was more familiar to me than my English relations as we moved around a lot.
But this seemed too simplistic to me even at a young age.
Perhaps Nazism couldn’t have happened during the post war Welfare State in Britain, but conditions are very different now. Like Germany between the wars, we have and will continue to experience grave economic circumstances for decades. Like Germany large sections of the population live in abject poverty. Like Germany blame is placed on sections of the population who are dehumanised and held responsible for impoverishing the ‘authentic’ citizen. Like Germany politicians who peddle this view were initially seen as bizarre and not treated seriously but disillusionment with mainstream parties increased their popular appeal.
Alliances with mainstream politicians allowed Hitler to become Chancellor legitimately – and the rest is history.
As part of the post WWII generation I have always felt a responsibility to ensure such a murderous regime never happens in my country. I now know this means we must resist the gradual manifestations of inhumanity that become enshrined in our laws and policies and the gradual removal of our liberties and rights especially for certain sections of the population.
Finally any alliances between mainstream parties and parties with racist and divisive policies should ring warning bells as history mustn’t be reprised.”