On Sunday I along with thousands if not hundreds of thousands of others up and down the country will attended the annual Remembrance Day service.
It is on the public record that I have concern about what the poppy stands for is being eroded as part of the accelerating change in political posturing by all parties who see it as a tool to be used to appear as though they are the only party who ‘support’ the armed services.
It shouldn’t be but sadly has become a contest of who supports them best.
My views are also on record about those and especially those on the political ‘Conservative Right’ who constantly castigate minority groups with their xenophobic attitude to immigration.
It is ironic that they are also trying to convince the very same people to join and vote for them mainly it appears to demonstrate that they aren’t really anti immigrant and racist.
Brexit and Brexiteers have of course shown it to be abundantly clear that this approach is and has always been a sham.
It is no longer difficult to understand exactly what it is they actually want.
It can best be summed up by ‘Kick everyone out who doesn’t support us’.
I regret to say it isn’t only the right-wing politicians who seek to use minority groups for their own advantage there are also those on the political left.
After all if you are cynical about the political system you might suggest that to promise minority groups things you have no intention or have no way of delivering may well get them to believe you just long enough to get their vote.
I still believe that the United Kingdom remain one of the most tolerant nations on earth when it comes to accepting people with different nationalities and religions.
There is however a great deal in 21st Britain not to be proud of.
Over one million people reliant on food banks to ensure they get at least one meal a day, the increase in homelessness especially amongst the young and the way we treat our elderly population being only some of which we should all be ashamed.
It is why we should fight for and protect the tolerant attitude towards those who come to live in our country.
It isn’t something that we should consider a duty arising from a sense of guilt about our history and imperialistic past but simply because it is how decent human beings behave in a civilised society.
When confronted by the bigots and racists we should remind them that millions of ‘foreigners’ and their descendants fought on the side of the United Kingdom in not only the two world wars but also conflicts before and since.
On Sunday there will be people of all faiths who will not be taking part in a religious service but one of Remembrance to their ancestors.
Will they be less British?
Of course not?
Across the United Kindom, Muslims, Hindu, Jews, Catholics and Anglicans as well as all other faiths will stand together in remembering and paying their respects to those that have and those that continue to fight for the very freedom that allows them to attend the service in the first place.
The cynical use of the immigration – there are too many foreigners argument – is by those who have nothing to offer but bigotry and divisiveness and who are only too happy to take advantage of the freedoms they would deny others.
Thankfully it is not an attitude supported by the majority of people but is one that has to be very carefully guarded against.
The danger is that if politicians continue to adopt policies that rely only on utilising sections of the population to get their votes whilst ignoring and excluding others it will create a vacuum in which pride in living in the UK will be further eroded.
History down the ages has shown that where such a vacuum exists it is invariably filled by fanatics, racists and fascists and the erosion of democracy.
The question is “What kind of UK do we want”?
The one for which those we remember and give thanks on Sunday who fought for us or one in which sections of people are marginalised, demonised, neglected and ignored?
In other words the exact opposite of what millions sacrificed themselves for.
Sadly I’m increasingly coming to believe that the ‘professional politicians’ are so out of touch that they will continue their ‘identify our core voter’ policies in the pursuit of power disregarding the rest of the population.
Will I come away from the Remembrance Service thinking just what do ex-servicemen and women really think and whether even though they will always be proud of what they and their friends represent are they really proud of Britain in the 21st Century?
What the xenophobes who preach hate and division don’t appear to understand is something that those of us who have served and those who are serving in the armed services instinctively know to be true and that is…