Make Poverty History

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Should I stay or should I go?

Or, more properly Should I vote stay or should I vote go?  Just some notes to help me think through the decision.

I am still undecided and the information I'm getting is well propaganda or just plain insults really.  Neither side has said anything really convincing.  Each of us will have our own issues.  Mine is primarily around our Identity.  Are we first British, or are we first European?

But I'm not voting for me only, I have 4 grandchildren (perhaps more) to think about. So there are other aspects to consider - it is a decision for the long term, or is it?  If we vote 'leave', I expect there to be another referendum once the exit terms are negotiated, say in 2 to 5 years..

Before we get to that what about:

The economy?
"Its the economy, stupid" - that's what wins elections, but here there is so much doubt.  The markets will react, in the short term there will be some pain, but in the longer term when we can trade with the whole world who knows.  Our trade with other EU countries is currently in decline, but that will not always be so.  We have a strong economy, theirs is weaker, but I can remember being the 'sick man' of Europe.
My conclusion is that we British have been traders for hundreds of years and we're mainly good at it.
The cost of being in the EU is about £8.5billion a year according to FullFact, not a great deal of money in the grand scheme of things.

We need immigration.  We have too many immigrants.  Both can be true, in some places where there are many immigrants the locals feel swamped. In other places there are people desperate to employ people with particular skills that don't exist in this country.
The answer to high numbers is not about controlling immigration, but making adequate provision - houses, school places,  doctors surgeries - INFRASTRUCTURE.  Probably the single thing we are worst at.
The answer to lack of skills is training and planning for it long term.  Probably the thing we are next worse at.
Neither of these things really relates that much to the EU, although when large migrations occur they could provide some financial help.

Who makes our laws? Who can tell us what to do?  The EU is undemocratic in as much as the agenda is set by an appointed commission.  These people are largely sponsored by businesses, and have their own agenda.  The EU courts can tell the UK government what to do, and can override British court judgements.  The first principle is that the law should apply to everyone, individuals, corporations and governments.  I believe the European courts system, largely set up by the British is generally a good thing.  All courts make (seemingly) wacky judgements from time to time.
Majority voting can mean that we get some rules we don't like, but that is true for all the countries.

Ever Close Union
The European Federation, or United States of Europe will eventually arrive, although now that there are so many countries it will take a lot longer to get here.  A well structured federation, with proper directly elected politicians could be a very good thing for Europe, but we are a long way from it, and Britain has (or is promised?) an opt-out, so we can stay on the side lines if we wish.

There have been way too many predictions of doom, especially by the remain campaign.  Third world war - I doubt it.  Economic collapse - I doubt it.  No-one can tell what the world will be like next year (what did you think in 2007?), so predictions for 2030 are spurious guess work and can be safely ignored.
Where though is the vision? Neither side have told us how good it will be, what we can gain.

The final and most important issue for me is our identity.  Are we, as a people, a good fit for a European Union.  We are certainly geographically part of Europe, but also geographically split from Europe. That means that in so many ways we are different.
  • We did not live under Napoleon, as much of Europe did, so our outlook and ways of doing things are different.  
  • We broke away from the Catholic Church and as a result establish protestantism here, it was a difficult time, and some other EU countries have a similar experience, but none so dramatic or 'final'.
  • We came first in the 'Age of Empires' game that ended around the beginning of the twentieth century, and that has left its mark on us - it gives us a certain expectation of leadership in the world.  That is a role we can still fulfil, but can we do it better out, or better in?  It is also a role that is diminishing, with the rise of China and India and ...
  • We have not been occupied by a foreign power for over 1000 years.  Someone will tell me if another EU country can also claim that, I can't think of one.  We have, of course, imported foreign kings when it suited us.
Very little of what has been said in the run up to the referendum so far has been helpful or edifying.  One sound bite I remember from William Hague saying that there is much wrong with the EU, but now is the time to be fixing it from within, not getting out.  That I have to agree with.

Or perhaps I should take this view:

Still a don't know, maybe I'll write again on Friday.

Comments: Please comment, but please be balanced, and no doom and no propaganda please.

1 comment:

  1. Great article, Peter!!!!

    Well done, very well thought out and informative about the Referendum.

    Thank you.