Twenty-first century Britain. A bastion of democracy where respect for different opinions, diversity and tradition are paramount. A land where high quality investigative journalism leads to open and honest debate, where politicians represent their constituents in the birthplace of modern parliamentary democracy and where big business is transparent and acts with integrity. A shining example of the West where people speak freely without fear of persecution, right?
Well no, sadly not. These sound bites appear legitimate on the face of it but scratch the surface and you begin to see the real story. The Britain we love is very few of these things.
It’s a land where mainstream media acts almost entirely according to its own agenda and where politicians show little regard for the people who voted them in. It has a flawed voting system where a political party can poll nearly four million votes and return just one MP. One in three people has experienced poverty while corruption among the establishment is rife. A society embarrassed by tradition and patriotism and where people are brainwashed into thinking the Union Flag equals far-right politics. It’s a place where a new liberal, metropolitan class has imposed political correctness upon the masses to force through policies and stifle free speech.
“Racist!” they shout for airing genuine concerns over uncontrolled mass immigration, “scum!” they blast anyone brave enough to admit voting Conservatives or UKIP and “thick!” they mock people wanting to leave the failing European Union. The insults and accusations begin to bite as Britain becomes more divided. People are disenfranchised and understandably so. Genuine concerns and experiences are silenced through intimidation and in a very British way we brush it under the carpet and hope these issues will go away.
My earliest recollection of resentment stemmed from sixth form as a slightly spotty 16-year-old. The then head of politics was a proud socialist who loved nothing more than to delve into the philosophies of Karl Marx while the majority of my peers hung on his every word. These students were the well-rounded, progressive, internationalist politicians-of-the-future – at least that’s the narrative he conditioned them with. In reality these teenagers were being indoctrinated from an early age – indeed pledging allegiance to the Labour Party while pouring scorn on the nasty Tory Party was actively encouraged. Woe betide anyone criticising sacred public service organisations like the NHS.
I entered employment soon after and this nauseating trend continued. In a professional environment it was simply presumed that you were left-leaning politically. Anything other than adopting this default position would have been relationship destroying and naturally wanting to enhance my career, not jeopardise it, I often suppressed my true feelings. Certain office topics were no-go zones – not because I didn’t have educated views to offer but simply because I felt unable to. Metaphorically gagged. A pressure cooker just waiting to explode. Who are these people and why should I be silenced like this?
I first heard the ‘shy Tory’ expression after the 2015 General Election which delivered an outright Conservative majority to the shock of many. Opinion polls consistently predicted another hung parliament and severely underestimated the size of Tory support across large swathes of England. “It was the shy Tories what done it,” proclaimed newspapers like The Guardian as the inquest began. Colleagues came to work angry and devastated. “Most people vote Labour or the Greens, don’t they?” one baffled acquaintance proclaimed. I nervously shrugged.
Hearing the shy Tory term, derogatory though it was, was actually rather revelatory and also highly accurate. A long-held suspicion was being cemented: that a lot of my suppressed views were actually the views of many others. A quick internet search discovered pages of results detailing the ‘Shy Tory Factor’. I felt liberated yet angrier still that the majority were so routinely shamed by this self-righteous lot into staying silent. Many family and friends confirmed what I already knew: they also had logical concerns over immigration, multiculturalism, political correctness, foreign affairs, the direction of the European Union as well as many other issues and yet most were too afraid to ever go public with their opinion.
The UK’s referendum on the European Union was a defining moment. This was a vote, after all, which transcended usual party politics and saw some peculiar bedfellows on both sides of the debate. After years of suppressed views, I finally spoke out on this issue of EU membership which mattered so much to me. Warm reaction greeted me by many; but I also noticed a change in others’ behaviour towards me both in work and on social media. Fractures began to surface and I was suddenly categorised as an uneducated, xenophobic Brexiteer by associates and peers. This only strengthened my resolve during the campaign period but by June 23rd it seemed to matter little as the pollsters all predicted healthy victory for Remain.
The seven hours between 11pm and 6am on that historic night was as surreal as it was liberating. Remain voters largely retired to bed safe in the knowledge that even Nigel Farage had accepted defeat. Social media was a temporary vacuum as Leave voters, many of whom had waited decades for this moment, filled the void. Victory after victory flooded in as the BBC wheeled out countless experts to desperately explain what on earth was happening. Their conclusion was unanimous: shy Leave voters had once again appeared from the shadows to swing the result.
On June 24th the Telegraph labelled Brexit Britain a “nation of secret Leave voters too afraid to own up.” They were right, of course, and by this point most of the victory celebrations had returned underground as the media witch-hunt and hysterical indignation from the Remain camp reached full throttle. “You’re a bunch of uneducated morons,” said one Facebook ‘friend’, “I don’t want to live in this country anymore,” screamed another whilst one more declared he was “genuinely devastated and embarrassed for this country”. Over on Twitter I was given a brief moment of hilarity when one user said: “I had a croissant this morning and thought this could be my last ever croissant.” Camera crews were sent to public places including airports with the explicit instructions to find Leave voters that regretted their decision. Back at my workplace I was met with a frosty reception by those particularly bitter by the result – an unthinkable scenario had the vote gone the other way.
Over the following weeks we watched on in bewilderment as the great media manipulation gained traction. Politicians and the media played out a scenario so dramatic and well-scripted you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching a popular television soap. It was time, we decided, that this silent majority started speaking up and challenging the norms adopted by Britain over the past two decades. It’s time to finally give this Shy Society a voice.
We know you can be liberal and still have legitimate concerns over immigration. We know you can be intelligent and still be opposed to the European Union. We know you can criticise religion without being bigoted. And we know you can be proud of Britain without being a far-right extremist. We don’t fit into boxes and we won’t be silenced any longer. So please bookmark our website and follow us on social media as we bring you news and opinion on some of the most contentious and taboo topics from 21st century Britain.
Standing up for those without a voice in Britain.