The EU: A Referendum conundrum

Cameron has returned with his much-lauded deal. Not the deal he wanted of course, just the one that all the other EU members told him he could have. Something to wave around, spout off about, and pretend it has any solid basis. We were never in the Euro anyway, so why all the fuss about that aspect? NATO membership is not unique to EU members, just ask America and Turkey, so why the emphasis on defence? More hot air about something about nothing, and back to situation normal, short of some benefit restrictions that will only affect the poorest immigrants.

Now the sides are lining up, and the polls are in a frenzy. Various celebrities and politicians are joining the In or Out camps, and they can’t even seem to decide on a proper name. Is it ‘Stay of Leave’, ‘In or Out’, or ‘Yes and No’? Nobody seems that sure. The date for the vote clashes with the Welsh parliament elections, but nobody seems to care about that. They are only Welsh, after all. The Scottish Nationalists are not only firmly supporting the ‘In’ vote, they are insisting on another Independence Referendum, should the vote not go the way they want.

I voted against the EU in the 1970s. Despite never meeting anyone in my life since who claims to have voted for it, we were told at the time that we had been defeated, and we were staying in. I wanted a recount, and still do. This new referendum comes at a time when antagonism towards the EU has never been higher in Britain, yet I have a sneaky feeling the vote will be to stay in, and the polls don’t open for months. I welcome my chance to vote against being in this shambles. I have my reasons, and they are mostly political ones. I despair at membership of this capitalist club, this merging of nations with nothing in common, other than multi-national conglomerates, greed, and self-interest. I have never been comfortable with the European mentality, that suggests we are all similar, due to geographical proximity. I have enough issues with feeling like a part of the UK, let alone Europe.

The trouble is, I have to be on the same side as some very undesirable bedfellows. Racists, Right-wing thinkers, Right-wing extremist groups, Nationalist parties like UKIP and the National Front, old-school Tories and aristocrats. These are not the sort of people I feel comfortable to line up with, whatever the cause. Flag-waving patriots, old colonialists, newspaper barons, and holocaust deniers. Far from being the sort I would generally have any time for. Try as I might, I search for a reasonable voice to join my cause. A thoughtful alternative, Leftist thinkers against the EU, or someone I respect who agrees with me. But it is a difficult search, believe me. I have found an ally of sorts in the Communist Party here. They are urging to vote ‘Out’. But they sadly have little influence, and even less members than a big golf club. The Socialist Workers Party has also joined the ‘Out’ campaign. Once again, they have less influence than a TV chat show, but at least their thoughts are in the right place.

So, the Communists are for ‘Out’, and the Socialists too. Maybe I am on the right track, after all.

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8 comments

  1. Cousin Ian

    Pete, the whole idea of European integration was ‘of its time’, and seen as an ‘antidote to extreme nationalism which had devastated the continent’, and to make another war ‘unthinkable and materially impossible’, particularly as WW2 had given birth to atomic weapons. Of course they wanted ‘free trade’ (to rebuild shattered economies) and ‘freedom of movement’ (there were still huge numbers of refugees trying to find work and a place to live). And let’s face it, it has worked so far, and it outlasted the Soviet version of European integration (see the Hungarian Uprising 1956)! In 1930, Winston Churchill was against any such integration, but (presumably after millions of deaths) found himself speaking up for a ‘United States of Europe’ in 1946. It seems that such complete reversals aren’t unique!

    However, after a while you get ‘mission creep’, where suddenly, those in control want more control and everything goes from being ‘four legs good, two legs bad’ (until the ducks complain) to ‘two legs good, four legs better’, until the poor horses are stuck out in the cold! Or something like that, but you get my drift.

    You would have voted to leave the EU in June 1975, yet I’m surprised you haven’t met any ‘In’ voters since then because they amounted to 67% of those who voted! But what strange bedfellows you would have had then. Apart from the National Front, Plaid Cymru, the DUP, the UUP and the Communist Party, the Scottish Nationalist Party even wanted to leave! The then Industry Minister claimed, “Half a million jobs lost in Britain and a huge increase in food prices as a direct result of our entry into the Common Market”! And he was Tony Benn, who was subsequently called the ‘Minister of Fear’ by the Daily Mirror! The Labour Party was ‘hopelessly and irrevocably split’, so were the Conservatives! The only daily paper to support leaving was the Morning Star! Even the Mail and the Express wanted ‘In’. Can you imagine that now?

    The most amazing thing was not that the ‘In’ campaign seems to have been bankrolled by industrialists, but by a slush fund from the European Commission itself, whilst the ‘Out’ campaign just couldn’t compete against superior funding and hostility by the owners of the media. So, even 41 years ago, none of us were given enough ‘concrete’ information about which way to vote! It all sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

    I know which way I’m going to vote, but that just stems from my trenchant ‘Britishness’. I just ignore the ‘scaremongers’ claims about the economy because ‘market forces’ will ensure that if you want to buy wine, you are free to buy whatever wine you want, whether it comes from Europe or not, and others will always want to buy British goods, even Europeans. At this point, I will resist the urge to say anything about the competence of French farmers and how heavily they are subsidised to block roads with their tractors! So I won’t!

    My only worry is over who gets to vote! I don’t suppose that an eastern-European working in a field in Lincolnshire (with a work permit, passport and UK Child Benefit that they send back home to their family in eastern Europe) is likely to vote ‘Leave’! Neither will a non-Christian rapist or murderer, who is looking at being deported to the unstable Middle Eastern country from whence he came, as long as Europe guarantees him a ‘right to the freedom from torture or the right to a family life’! Why don’t they worry about that before they commit crimes? At least Tony and Cherie can sleep soundly at night!

    Feel free to look up;
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_European_Communities_membership_referendum,_1975 and,
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/how-we-were-talked-into-joining-europe-224339.html

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    • beetleypete

      Thanks for building up to that reply mate. It does seem to support many of my own arguments, even though it is far better researched, and written with obvious care, controlling the passion beneath the words. I still haven’t met anyone from the 67% who -supposedly- voted to stay in, forty years ago. That is one of the (many) reasons I have never really trusted our (apparently) secret ballot system.
      As for the Tory press at the time supporting staying in, I am sure that many right-wing thinkers thought that we would eventually take over the EU. They probably thought that we would be able to establish a modern colonial system, using the countries on our doorstep. Of course, that didn’t happen, and instead we were ambushed by the ‘old enemies’ of France and Germany.
      I used to buy the Morning Star back then, and remember it was the only voice against remaining, though for very different reasons.
      This reply was as good as a post. I enjoyed the ‘Animal Farm’ comparison too.
      Time you started your own blog mate. I will follow it!
      Love to you and the family. Pete.

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      • Cousin Ian

        Pete, thanks for your measured, yet glowing, endorsement of my literary prose! I realise that I am far too ‘wordy’ to be a ‘gut reaction’ to your challenging posts, and will aim for brevity in the future! But starting my own blog! I really don’t think that ‘The ravings of a Londoner who has paid tax and NI since he left school, spent 30 years in uniform serving his country and fellow citizens, has never had so much as a parking ticket, who has never been listened to by his government, and now lives in Lincolnshire, but is going to die tragically unheeded and unfulfilled’ is going to draw many followers! Maybe the title needs some work!
        So, the short answer to your post is: I agree. We should leave Europe. Left or right, we’re British! Let’s make our own way in the world, as we did before, and we can sort out the finer details later! If you don’t want to be part of a ‘Self-determining Britain’, please leave your door keys, Passports, greed and ‘champagne socialism’ at Dover! There’s no need to buy a return-ticket! PS; We’re freezing your assets to pay for the NHS for those of us who want to be here! Good luck paying for your kids’ private education because you can’t bear sending them to the sort of comprehensive state schools that you created!
        Alas, from watching the news today, the ‘Immigrant Spring Tide’ will no doubt cause European nationalism to flare up again very soon, thus rendering an In/Out referendum redundant, as vulnerable members of the EU start running for the exits!

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    • beetleypete

      I like that blog title! It has a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’. (Though given the debate here, I probably shouldn’t use French…)
      Seriously, I think you would do very well as a blogger. A chance to let off a lot of that steam.
      Keep up the good work mate. x

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  2. Heyjude

    I am finding this all too rushed. I have no idea whether we benefit from being In or Out as not enough facts have been provided. Everything I have heard so far seems to be smoke and mirrors stuff and scaremongering tales. Nothing I can rationalise at all. As for the child benefits I cannot believe we pay this for children who do not live here. Surely the parent at home in the country where the children live claim child benefit in their own country? Why should a migrant worker claim here? Seems bloody daft to me. My own personal opinion, not based on any rational facts, is to leave. I have never felt particularly European. As an Island race I feel as though we should be independent and take our place in the world proudly with self-respect. As do Switzerland and Norway, two of the richest countries in Europe. The Eurozone and the fact that half of what I knew as Asia is now in the EU makes me want to leave. The pros and cons need to be stated clearly and without bias (is that at all possible?) so we can make a well-informed decision. My fear is decisions will be based on fear. And before you ask, no I didn’t vote before. I didn’t even know we had a previous referendum.

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    • beetleypete

      You have actually summed it up perfectly, Jude. Most of the ‘Stay In’ vote is based on fear. Fear of losing jobs, fear of less involvement in anti-terrorism activities, and fear of Scotland (and Northern Ireland) becoming part of the EU, on our physical borders. Then the ‘Out’ camp use fear too, including many of the same fears. Fear of foreigners, fear of not enough housing, and too few jobs, fear of loss of national identity and culture. It seems that fear has replaced policies in our current political climate.
      You gut instincts should guide you, and it appears that they do. We are not Europeans, or for that matter a real world power. Just an island nation, better off left to sink or swim on our own.
      Thanks for your considered comment.
      Regards as always, Pete. x

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  3. Eddy Winko

    You never know Pete, you may get your wish now that Boris is on your side. Personally I think the UK should stay in, but only in the hope that the EU is heading down a socialist path in the long run…the very long run.
    I did laugh at the deal on child benefit, to be paid at the rate on the country of origin….Poland have just voted to up child allowance to roughly £100 per child per month, much more than you would get in the UK with two children!! Looks like Poland had very reason to agree with Camerons deal, they will be better off! I wonder if he even knows 🙂

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    • beetleypete

      Serves him right then mate. Those other countries should up their benefits now, then they can cash in, big-time.
      If we stay in, you might get that road to the Villa Winko built at long last!
      Cheers, Pete.

      Like

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