Of all the consequences of the vote to leave the EU – foreseen and unforeseen – the most disturbing has been the alarming rise in reports of hate crime.
It is clear that small minority of thugs and racists believe that the vote to leave has given them permission to abuse members of ethnic minorities, whether from the EU, the Commonwealth or even born and bred in Britain.
We are seeing behaviour and language that I thought we had rightly consigned to history over thirty years ago.
Lest we think that this is a problem for other less enlightened, less tolerant, towns I can confirm that we are not immune to this problem and that I have heard reports of people being abused in Ipswich and told to “go home”.
I do not believe for one minute that the 52% of the population who voted to leave in the referendum are racist, but it is clear that a small group of racists now believe that 52% of the population thinks the same way as they do.
We have to show them that they are wrong.
All of us who are horrified by what is happening need to make a stand.
I was very pleased that at the last Ipswich Borough Council meeting, councillors of all parties voted unanimously to support the Suffolk Solidarity campaign organised by Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality and that Suffolk County Council has done likewise.
It is important that the town’s representatives make a clear statement we will not tolerate this behaviour in Ipswich.
If you are an individual who has suffered racist abuse, please don’t just let it go. You must report it to the police. This behaviour is illegal and should be punished.
If someone does it once and gets away with it they will do it again. It needs to be stamped on quickly.
The police will take your report seriously and will do all they can to bring the offender to justice.
If you hear someone using racist language, again, please don’t let it go. Challenge them and let them know that what they are saying is wrong.
It’s very British to want to avoid a scene but your silence will be taken to mean that you agree with what’s being said.
We need to make it very clear that the majority of decent British people do not agree in any way with these vile sentiments.