I've been following the build-up to the in/out referendum on the EU with some interest. I find it fascinating how the political spectrum does not divide along the usual lines. Sometimes if I'm feeling lazy and can't be bothered to think about where I stand on an issue, I can fairly reliably fall back on tribal loyalties. Not so on this one. I mean, whose camp do you want to be in? David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt want to remain. Boris Johnson and Michael Gove want to leave.
The Case For Staying
There is a 'What have the EU ever done for us' meme floating around social media at the moment in which is listed the various EU legislation that can be pretty universally agreed to have been beneficial to everyone. 48hr working week, clean air acts, equal pay legislation and 60 years of relative peace are my particular favourites, you can pick your own out of the original letter to the Guardian from Simon Sweeney published in January 2013.
The Case for Leaving
There is a lot of talk and scaremongering from the right about immigration control and sovereignty that I find rather tedious and ignores the argument for leaving that I find most convincing. The European Union is an undemocratic (possibly antidemocratic if you look how it punished Greece for electing left-wing party Syriza to their government) institution that's primary purpose is to further the agendas of the big business and banking sectors. It is about to sign the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that is the latest threat to democratic structures from the corporate sector. Read about TTIP here.
What the Papers Say
All the corporate proprietor-owned newspapers have lined up behind the leave campaign. This should be a red flag. What do they stand to gain from departure? Newspapers represent corporate interests particularly clearly. (If you don't believe me, compare the international and domestic politics pages to the financial pages: the former are full of comment and criticism, the latter are dry and uncritical - ask yourself, why?) They obviously think a UK independent of Europe would take a lurch to the right.
There is a local language school just over the bridge from the pub. I know one of the teachers and one of the directors and I even worked on their social programme briefly and disastrously. The school, with its regular turnover of foreign students, adds colour and vibrancy to the neighbourhood. A large section of the school's intake comes from EU member states and I think some of the teachers and students who come to be trained in English have some of the fees paid for by the EU - I wouldn't want a change in the relation between the UK and Europe to adversely affect their business.
Sorry folks, I'm afraid I have yet to make up my mind. This is a really complex issue and I hope that you all are giving it plenty of thought as well. I would like to hear your views - especially any selfish reasons of your own that may sway you either way. The bigger ideas are being explored in the press and have yet to move me. Maybe you can persuade me.
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10 months ago