Election diary of an immigrant

As much as I want to believe that those who display the St. George’s flag are proud, fair-minded, and patriotic people, the truth couldn’t be further. Let me explain…

Last week on St George’s Day, I went canvassing for a friend of mine who’s contesting a parliamentary seat in North West London. As those who’ve knocked on doors before will recognise, you’re provided with a sheet of names and door numbers of those who may vote for your party, so that you can (once again) confirm their voting intention for polling day. Should they confirm that they’re interested in voting for your candidate (e.g. my friend), you do everything possible to ensure they leave the comfort of their home to cast their vote on May 6th.

Knowing this, you come up with all kinds of ways to ask them the most important question – “Will you vote for x, y, or z?” and unsurprisingly each person reacts in their own way, but as far as my experience shows, no one’s nasty – some are rude – but never nasty.

So, for this reason I’m prompted to write this post. It just so happened that every house that displayed the St George’s flag happened to show their total dis-regard, ignorance, and lack of respect – which bordered on being nasty and racist. One lady, even brought her dog (a bulldog!) to the door to tell me she wouldn’t be voting for my friend. She let rip on every single problem that “the immigrants” are responsible for. Right from litter on her street, missing light bulbs on street lamps, all the way through to the recession – it seemed that we were to blame.

Normally, I’m not flustered so easily, but I couldn’t get over the fact that I’d heard the same kind of stuff at all the houses that I knocked on which had the St. George’s flag displayed in their window or on their car. I’d love to believe this was a coincidence, but other houses, in this otherwise aspirational suburb, didn’t express such views when I engaged them!

As the son of an immigrant, I consider this my home (not India or Kenya, where I was born) and I believe that our diversity is also our biggest strength. We live in a country that is facing challenges that it’s never had to deal with. Take the challenge of emerging economies like China or India and their impact on us in the next 50 years, or of as an island nation tackling the threats posed by global warming – I believe we need to embrace new ideas, new ways of developing solutions to face these issues, and for this reason, to believe that immigrants who bring varied experiences that contribute to our society are fundamental to our future success.

I know that the vast majority of people will think that I’m making a mountain out of a molehill out of one bad day at the doorstep, but it’s important for all of us (red, blue, and yellow) to reclaim the St George’s flag from these nutters (not just for the upcoming World Cup), who’ve hijacked an identity that is so respected all over the world.

Back to door knocking tomorrow…