It has been very interesting to not only watch the course of British politics, during my time abroad, but also American politics. Both countries underwent historic votes in 2016 and I would argue that both are dealing with the consequences of those decisions. Prior to moving to London, Brexit was this random concept that no one really understood. Upon arrival and especially as I started working, it became clear that Brexit isn’t completely understood by anyone. The most interesting trend is how diversity in both Governments has increased following the increase of racist ideologies being expressed throughout societies.
While racism throughout America is more pronounced, namely the President avoiding denouncing White Supremacists, there is still racism present in British society. The Home Office reported in their annual Bulletin, in 2017/18, there were 94,098 hate crime offences recorded by the police in England and Wales, an increase of 17% compared with the previous year. Those who oppose Brexit argue that some of those who supported it used racist and xenophobic sentiments to make their decision. Similarly can be said about the election of Trump, especially throughout specific parts of the country.
The year after the Brexit Referendum, there was a General Election which saw the election of the most diverse Parliament yet. The BBC reported the end results of the 2017 General Election, specifically focusing on the LGBT community, women, and ethnic minorities. The LGBT community saw a 40% increase from the 2015 election in representation. There are now 45 MPs who openly define themselves as LGBT, which includes 19 from Labour, 19 Tories and 7 from the SNP. Women saw a 9% in representation since 2015. 202 women were voted into Parliament, 119 from Labour, 67 Tories, 12 from the SNP, and 4 Lib Dems. There was an increase from 41 ethnic minority MPs to 52 MPs, 32 from Labour, 19 Conservatives, and 1 Lib Dem.
There were very similar changes made during the US Midterm Elections. Big strides were made for women, and ethnic minorities. For the first time ever, more than 100 women will serve in the House of Representatives. There will be at least 124 women in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Which means the 116th Congress will see a 3% increase in women representation. While there is still work to be done, there were other historic firsts, including the first two Muslim-Americans elected, the first two Native Americans elected, as well as the youngest women elect, who took the seat of a long-standing incumbent.
Overall, controversial elections may be good for political involvement. Both Brexit and Trump’s Presidency came from a disconnect between the people and those who are supposed to represent us all. Both these events are highly debated and may have caused divisions but it has still lead to more people being involved in the political process. This increased involvement will hopefully bring both the UK and the US out of these turbulent periods and into political prosperity that represents everyone and not just the elite, xenophobic, and racist.
Taylor Clark – Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, Ca
Intern in the office of Jon Cruddas MP