The EU debate

NigelI haven’t written anything on this blog for a while because there hasn’t been much to write about, but I feel that the name of this website/blogsite lends itself well to the current EU debate.

The killing of Jo Cox, the vitriol, the constant bickering about what is and isn’t ‘fact’ is so saddening it should tell us that, as a nation, we’re not as ‘Great’ as we’d like to think we are. We have to face the reality that we’re just very ordinary and, if you are in any doubt about that, take a long look at the poster from the so-called ‘Out’ campaign. In this link you’ll see a picture of ‘poster-boy’ Nigel Farage standing in front of an ad hoarding depicting a long line of immigrants that are, purportedly, desperate to come into our country. They all have brown faces.

If what we are proposing to do, i.e exit the EU, becomes reality, we’ll stop Poles, Lithuanians, Romanians, Hungarians etc coming into our country (unless of course, under Nigel Farage’s points system, they are astro-physicists or doctors who are prepared to go tomato-picking in Peterborough). I live next door to a Polish couple. They are a lovely, hardworking, if slightly insular family with… white faces.

I spoke to a friend who said to me ‘at least Nigel Farage speaks his mind’. I’m not so sure this is a reason to exit the EU because, quite frankly, I don’t particularly like what’s in Nigel Farage’s mind. If you managed to read the previous two sentences and the penny didn’t drop, what we are talking about here is not a control on immigration, it is about fascism.

Don’t get me wrong, people who want out are not fascists and I do respect the opinions of those who have genuine concern about our status and have ultimately made the decision to leave, but this poster leaves me in no doubt about what the underlying message is here from those leading this campaign. This hoarding is designed to appeal to people’s fears and prejudices, nothing more. It’s a monumentally blunt tool and, what is surprising to me, is that people have bought into this lemon without fully understanding what kind of agenda awaits them.

First of all, you have to bear in mind that Farage is a charlatan of the highest order. He appeals to a base instinct: an internal fight-or-flight mechanism where instinct leaves you with no other course of action other than to lash out. Farage is the worst sort of politician: his common-man appeal – drinking bitter in English country pubs – is a façade designed to put you at ease and, if you hadn’t already worked it out, I’d rather paint my hand with fresh blood and put it into the mouth of an extremely hungry lion than side with Nigel.

Then you have to look at the rest of this ragtag bunch. Michael Gove, former education secretary who would have destroyed Britain’s education system had he been allowed to continue, and Boris Johnson, the lovable buffoon, who spent most of his time in the 1990s top-spinning stories about the EU because it pleased the political will of the great and the good at The Daily Telegraph. This threesome is not the ‘team’ I want running my country. I’d have a ‘faceless’ bureaucrat without a political agenda in Brussels every time.

Then let’s consider that main influencer designed to sway the British public for an out vote: The Sun newspaper.  Oh good. This is the organ that blamed Liverpool fans for the Hillsborough disaster.

In terms of the economic impact, I’ll say this. Nobody has any facts about what will happen because nobody knows the future, but my suspicion is that it’ll be a total disaster. Already the stock market is looking nervous and the Pound is in freefall. There is a simple reason for this. Financial experts – and I have said this before – are not experts. They do what everyone else would do. They are cautious when things are bad and bold when things are good and, with Brexit looking like a certainty, don’t expect bold, exciting investment that’ll stimulate/expand our economy in the next few months/years/decades.

Norway should not be held up as any kind of success story either. It’s not in the EU, but still pays a hefty contribution to the EU for free trade, accepts free movement of people and, most importantly, has no seat at the EU table. It’s doing alright for itself, says Farage. True enough, it is doing alright because it has a load of oil, but it still doesn’t have the fifth largest economy in the world. There is a reason we are the fifth largest economy in the world – it’s because we are part of Europe, not in spite of it.

There are other reasons that have all been well-documented, but if you have been living under a rock for three months, you should be aware that if we left we’d have to renegotiate around 50 new trade deals. This is not the work of a day, it takes years.

If you still think it’ll be a walk in the park to negotiate trade deals then think about what we’d be left with in terms of bureaucracy. There’s no avoiding it. Fully functioning societies need rules and we’d have to make them. If you are a UK government department or lawyer, granted, it’ll be payday because we’d have to sink billions into new UK-only legislation allowing them to fill their boots, but if you are the so-called hardworking common man or woman, it’s time to start putting your hands into your pockets to pay for it.

Thing is, the current EU rules can actually help you. I’ll give you one example. A few years ago I was threatened with redundancy because I worked for a production company and the contract had been moved to another supplier. Under EU regulations, the new supplier had to re-employ me. Had it not been for the EU, I would have been out of work. You might believe The Sun’s propaganda about straight bananas, but the EU helps us stay in work, improves our rights as workers and gives us a voice when employers try to take the piss out of us.

In other news, I want to retire… not in this country. I want to retire to somewhere hot in Europe, where I can play golf, wear loose-fitting clothing and get skin cancer. Out of Europe, I’ll not qualify under an ‘Australian-style’ points system because I’ll be too old. Spain won’t want me and after this messy divorce, I doubt Greece will want me either. It’s not looking good for my daughter either – she’ll have no right to live, study or work in Europe if we leave. My personal plans for the future are not looking good, it seems.

To me, the evidence against leave the EU is too strong to ignore: the fact that Farage is a chancer, I’m not confident about the economy, my personal situation will be screwed and there are some useful EU regulations that help us, but all that pales into significance when it has become crystal clear that our country has descended into a mirror image of Donald Trump’s America. It is a society quick to lash out, strongly suspicious and anxious to build walls. Farage is our Trump, but poorer and with less ridiculous hair. The only reason Nigel hasn’t suggested building a wall around our country is that there is a bunch of sea around us and sea is much more effective at keeping the Syrian refugees out.

In some respects there is one thing that gives me hope if we do vote out. It’ll mean we will have no-one else to blame but ourselves. Be careful what you wish for people.

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