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Is respect obsolete?

Last week, the new cohort of MEPs chosen in May’s elections arrived in Strasbourg for the first sessions of the European Parliament. Representatives from the Brexit Party hit the headlines, not for their policy proposals, but rather for their controversial behaviour, notably in turning their backs when Ode to Joy, the European anthem, was played. They, and others that did not rise to their feet for the anthem, were immediately rebuked by EP president Antonio Tajani, who told them sternly: “[It] is a question of respect; it doesn’t mean that you necessarily share the views of the European Union.”
 
The Brexit Party defended its actions as a protest against the “undemocratic” EU. However, they were critiqued by other UK MEPs as a show of disrespect, not solely for the institution they participate in, but also for the group of musicians, some as young as 14 or 15, who had been selected to perform at the ceremony. Labour’s leader in the EP Richard Corbett branded the action “pathetic”, while Lib Dem member Chris Davies said the move was “insulting to fellow human beings.”
 
The Lib Dems drew controversy themselves by arriving for their duties dressed in t-shirts bearing the words “Bollocks to Brexit.” They were criticised by Change UK MP Anna Soubry, who said there was no need for the Lib Dems to go into “that sort of territory.”
 
A lively conversation on respect has also surrounded this year’s series of Love Island, with some participants accused of showing disrespect to fellow competitors by saying one thing to their faces and another behind their backs. One contestant, Michael Griffith, has been particularly heavily criticised, with some equating his behaviour to gaslighting.
 
Bizarre as it may sound, the Love Islanders, Brexit Party and Lib Dem MEPs all have something in common. By virtue of their platform, they have become representative, of a generation or a certain political persuasion. While some may not like this, as evidenced by the appearance of the hashtag #notinmyname on social media following the Brexit Party’s stunt, the fact remains that their behaviour influences how the UK is viewed on a global stage.
 
This becomes problematic when those representatives, particularly political ones, are not seen to be behaving with respect. Clearly, neither the Lib Dems nor the Brexit Party are happy with the political situation at present, but it is possible to demonstrate this dissatisfaction while still respecting the events that have led up to this point. As elected officials, they have a responsibility to act with dignity, not least to set an example to anyone that looks up to them as role models. 

1. The Political Perspective, from Mary Honeywell, former MEP for London

I find the very fact that the Brexit Party and UKIP before them seek to contest European elections utterly incomprehensible. Why would anyone want to be part of an institution they are attempting to abolish? There is also the rank hypocrisy. The Brexit Party MEPs take EU money to pay themselves and run their offices. Ultimately, it’s the British taxpayer who funds this. Their salaries and allowances could have gone to the National Health Service. Brexit Party MEPs have wasted no time in being active on social media. On Twitter they are forever talking about how the EU wastes tax payers’ money. More hypocrisy as the only “work” most of them will ever do is whinge about the EU. The hard grind of getting to grips with legislation, forming alliances and forging compromises will, I would bet, never be for them.
It’s quite obvious that the Brexit MEPs know nothing about the European Parliament and what it does. At least one of them has called it a “talking shop”. The Brexit Party may not like it, the European Parliament is an important EU legislator. Brexit Party, accept the world as it is and get over yourselves.  

2. The Member Perspectivefrom Andrew Thomas, BSC Biochemistry graduate from the University of Kent
"I understand that, as a 22 year old recent graduate, my opinion on respect and whether it’s important in today’s society is largely driven by my up-bringing and impacted less-so by my limited experience in the world today, business or otherwise. Having said this, I firmly believe respect will and should always have a place in the modern world. Recently there has been a perceived trend of a reduced level of respect, particularly shown in the “younger generation”.  This perception has partly been driven by the development of technology and the impact this has on day-to-day interactions. Technology has provided a platform for people to forge relationships and share opinions globally. However, for all its benefits, technological communications are not governed by the usual rules of social pleasantries including eye-contact, body language and emphasis (with the exclusion of FaceTime). Above all else, technology can be a platform to anonymously share whatever one pleases, naturally creating an environment lacking respect for others beliefs.

Additionally, television shows, such as “Love Island”, portray individuals of a similar age to myself interacting with one another. Exchanges rarely involve social or emotional respect between cast members, which undoubtedly feeds towards the perception that young people lack respect and are frequently rude. I argue this is unfair and untrue. Cast members of “Love Island” and other similar shows are not representative of my generation, and judging how they interact with one another in a closed environment surrounded by cameras is akin to judging how a professional sportsman acts on the field of play as an accurate representation of how they act on a daily basis.

It is always easy to judge the moral fibre of ourselves and others, however such judgement should undergo deeper critical analysis before finalising opinions. I will not say that disrespectful trends we are seeing in today’s society aren’t concerning, most recently an embarrassing display carried out by MEP Brexiteers turning their back on the “Ode to Joy” anthem. Ultimately, I do believe that respect should promote success in the business world I soon hope to enter and will never be a “lost art” of social interactions."
3. The Relationships Perspectivefrom Dennie Smith, Founder of Old Style Dating
"I believe that people now accept disrespect in dating as the norm, when it should not be that way. Social media-modelled dating apps and services have not helped with this. Hidden behind a screen, people can show little courtesy to those they are talking to, they can jump ship without any explanation when something supposedly better comes along. Why give the courtesy of explaining that the chemistry is not there for you to the prospective partner, when they are so many others at one's fingertips that it feels necessary to expediently move through as many potential partners as possible? Ghosting is a natural product of the promise to "log on, meet now" by many online agencies."

3 things you need to know this week

1. "Pride means standing tall, with your LGBT+ family, with friends and allies. It’s positive defiance to anyone who challenges our right to live, love and succeed just as we are and without apology." This year's Pride in London parade, which marked 50 years since the Stonewall riots, saw more than 1.5 million people march through the capital. 🏳️‍🌈
 
2. Last week, the Sunday Times published an investigation into the Broadwater Farm estate, where safety concerns in communal spaces and lack of funding for activities had left many dreading the summer holidays. A fundraiser set up for the children has now raised over £260,000. ❤️

 
3. Waitrose proved why you should always, always proofread before printing. 🤦‍♀️

This week, author Elizabeth Gilbert is reading Three Women by Lisa Taddeo. She wrote: "THIS IS THE BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR. It blew the top of my head off and I haven’t been able to stop thinking or talking about it since. Lisa Taddeo spent years following three real-life women who were each engaged in very different intense sexual/emotional relationships. With unfailing compassion and incredible reporting and writing skills, Taddeo explores the glory and insanity and passion and obsession of women when they are overcome by sexual desire and emotional need. I identified with each woman in the book, and I read these pages with my heart in my throat — so deeply invested in each woman, even as I feared for the consequences of her choices. It’s SUCH a masterpiece."

Members are a vital part of the One Question community, and we always want to hear what you think. That’s why each week we’ll ask members to share their thoughts for the upcoming newsletter. Check out our Twitter page @OneQuestionConf, where we announce our newsletter Question every week, and email sophie@onequestion.live to share your perspective. 
 
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