When they perceive a threat, most people retreat back to a place of safety. The safest they feel is in the company of their family and close friends. This applies very well to politics and the democratic process. Conservative or nationalist parties will almost always do better than liberal, internationalist ones because a lot of people don't really trust anyone from outside their sphere of experience. With the omnipresence of media stories telling us that bad people are out to get us, this has become exaggerated in recent times. Labour couldn't get elected into government in the UK until they mutated into a conservative party, and even then their grip was never likely to be permanent. In the latest batch of elections, the Scottish National Party have done well in Scotland, the Conservatives in England and Plaid Cymru in Wales, suggesting a shift back towards isolationism and separation.

The only way we can ever hope to make real change in the world is by fighting against this instinct. It is easy to believe the scare stories about immigrants and foreigners and people of different colour or religion, so it is easy to persuade people to vote for parties that will "get rid" of all these worries. However, these parties don't help anyone with their outlook. If we want to address the issues properly we have to engage with them fully. We need to talk to people of different cultures, regions, nationalities and ideologies in order to understand them and in order to facilitate better relationships. Hiding away in a rabbit hole may work in the short term, but when you finally clamber out again you'll find the world has moved on and is leaving you behind. We need to have the nerve to make decisions that don't necessarily make us feel comfortable in the short-term, because they are much more likely to be beneficial in the long-term.