Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Insert 'pun' that swaps 'you' for 'EU'

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.

Selfish Reasons

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.


  1. I know not all the financial reasons for staying in or out, but believe that culturally it would be in our best interests to stay in; it just 'feels' right to be more inclusive and in union with our neighbours.

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  3. I'm torn. I like the idea of free trade and movement but like you find the EU anti democratic. I can't see major democratic reform as people in power won't give it up (their power)

  4. A blast to the fence-sitters and their pusillanimous vacillation. This is a no-brainer.
    There is no valid left argument for voting to leave. Agreed that treatment of Greece and Syriza was disgraceful, but do you really believe a future UK government (Prime Minister Boris!) will intervene to mitigate on their behalf? Agreed about TTIP, but what do you really believe a future UK government will repeal or reject it? Or even have any power to mitigate it?
    Will a Brexit help workers? Migrants?
    Or will it help small-minded petty bigots,the Tory right,the non-national or non-dom runners of the Mail, Sun and Telegraph and the tax-dodging owner of the Express?
    Anti-democratic? At least we can elect an MEP. We cannot elect any member of our upper chamber, or our head of state. To use a useful Mancunian expression, 'look at your own head first, mate.'
    There is only one way of stopping internal Tory party wrangling guide the future of the nation. There is only one way of stopping - or at least trying to stop - corporate billionaires from turning the UK into an off-shore tax haven.
    And yes, I will lose about 80% of my already paltry income as a freelance teacher if this idiocy goes through, but I'll find something else to do, probably. The UK - or what's left of it after the Scots get out - will never refind its way as an integrated, forward-looking, decent, European country.
    Get off that fence before its spikes go too far up your ass, and vote. And tell everyone else with at least half a brain and a shred of decency to vote too.