21 Jun 2016

The Referendum Blues...Very Blue

On Thursday we here in the UK will be making the biggest decision of our voting lives, and for some of you who were over 18 on 6th June 1975 it is your second chance at determining the future of our country. 41 years ago that generation were young and hopeful of the future, as indeed they should be, and they and most of the rest of the country voted to stay in what was then the Common Market.

You are mostly all now in receipt of pensionable income of some form or other, and barring an absolute economic catastrophe your future income is safe, and more importantly, known. A large percentage of you have worked at some point or another for a Government department and therefore are probably well enough off to withstand the inevitable price rises that will follow a Brexit, an outcome most of you seem in favour of. Unfortunately those economic guarantees do not apply to your children and grandchildren, which is why I now ask you to think again.

I have read countless blogs, posts, articles on the Leave side of the fence, so I would like to think any Leavers reading this would do me the same courtesy, so, consider this if you will:

Whatever your reasons to vote Leave, do you really want to see a country where the opportunities to live and work anywhere within the EU without restriction is denied to your children and grandchildren? These are opportunities that some of you may have taken advantage of. Aside from the employment scenario, if any of you have married an EU citizen from another country, and brought them here to live - or vice-versa - after Brexit there is a good chance that will no longer be possible for your descendants, or at the very least only possible after waiting years for the correct paperwork. Do you really want to restrict their life chances that much, given that they are far more likely to want to travel abroad to find work than you were, and for a lot, finding a partner will follow.

Even the majority of your descendants who will always live and work in the UK will be directly affected as initially at least - and there's no guarantee we will ever recover fully - there will be an increase in unemployment as multi-nationals relocate or scale down their operations in favour of locations within the EU.

Additionally in a probably vain appeal to loftier ideals, the reason there has been no war in western Europe in over 70 years is down to the EU, and NATO. In fact the quest for lasting peace was one of the reasons the EU was formed. Breaking it up plays into the hands of nationalists and warmongers. Incidentally, I do not hear any Leavers wanting to leave NATO, where if any one of its members is attacked it is taken as an act of war on all of them. Isn't that "undemocratic", and even a close call to the dreaded and mythical European Army?

After that plea to your emotions, here are some pertinent hard facts that I would like you to think about:

The labour protection laws and benefits and H&S rules that gradually came into being since 1975 that you have benefitted from while employed all came about largely as a result of us being in the EU. Outside the EU there are no checks on what an increasingly right wing libertarian Government might want to repeal.

The mythical benefit to the NHS promised by the Leave campaign simply will not happen as the net monies we pay to the EU will not be there as the economy will undoubtedly shrink after a Brexit. Take a look at the financial pages of your paper - it's already happening as stock prices plummet in a nervous pre-vote market expecting the worst. This may affect your investments directly, investments that you rely on to maintain your standard of living, not to mention your children's investments for their retirement, one that whatever the outcome will never be as cushioned as that of the Baby Boomers, the most well-off generation of retirees this country has seen and will see for a long, long time.

A lot of you are being led by the Leave campaign and the media into fixating on immigration, and while the vast majority of you are not racists, we all know where those fears ultimately lead as recent events horrifically showed. In any event, leaving the EU will have little effect on immigration, otherwise why is it that over half of current net immigration is from outside the EU? And there is no way that Turkey will be joining the EU in either your or my lifetime. It only takes one member to object!

The more idealistic of you are voting Leave in some laudable but naive hope of better democracy. We had our chance at better democracy when we rejected PR a few years ago. Remember, we currently have a Government that was elected by less than a quarter of the electorate, who can force their legislation through an unelected second chamber flooded with unelected members for that purpose. It is ironic that the unelected chamber has 200 or so more members that the elected one. A Brexit will certainly lead to an unelected (that word again!) Government led by Boris Johnson, of a more right wing nature than we have ever seen in this country, as Cameron's position will be untenable following a Brexit. Rather puts complaints about the EU being undemocratic into perspective don't you think?

I could go on, but I doubt there is any point. If any Leavers are still reading, I congratulate you on keeping an open mind, but I fear that most have entrenched opinions and will not have read past the first paragraph, so I won't waste any more of your or my time. The EU is far from perfect, and yesterday I heard a German Eurocrat saying that whatever the outcome of the UK referendum it will cause the EU to take "a serious look at itself". Surely it is better to be part of that process than declining in isolation on the fringes? Vote Remain on Thursday 23rd June for a better future!

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