The Refendum debate
I am somewhat nervous about posting a blog on the EU referendum due to the foul, vile and abusive language that has met anyone voicing an opinion online in this ‘debate’. It is incredible watching this from abroad. I had hoped that this once in a lifetime / generation referendum would promote informed factual debate on which voters could form an opinion. I have never voted in a referendum before and I am genuinely excited that my vote will count for a change. (Unless you vote for the winning MP / party in local and General Elections your vote counts for nothing in the first past the post system). What has actually happened is an abuse and manipulation of facts, name calling, bickering, foul and abusive language and the whole campaign on both sides has been completely negative reduced to fear tactics about immigration and job losses – and that’s just from the elected MPs!
My FB timeline has been full of ‘fact check’ posts after some propaganda has been issued by the ‘Leave’ or ‘Remain’ camp. My faith in humanity is restored by the fact we have people out there who are willing to spend the time and effort to do this for us voters. Yes some of these are organisations but a lot of them are individuals. One completely foul mouthed rant by a chap on FB was actually very informative between the expletives. I can understand the writers frustration.
The influx of propaganda has been extremely depressing. I mean who cares what Lord Sugar thinks? “Brexit” (I really don’t like that word) “would throw away our economic strength” he says. Really? Based on what exactly?
The president of the European Commission “warned” British voters that “deserters will not be welcomed back with open arms”. Now that’s likely to get a few backs up. “Deserters”! That’s a bit much. (British understatement).
The IMF has warned of prolonged negotiations over the terms of any exit. So? If people vote to leave it doesn’t really matter how long it takes – the outcome will eventually reflect the vote – it’s called democracy.
The Confederation of British Industry was blatant telling “responsible business leaders” to advise employees that a leave vote would affect growth, jobs and local communities. Nothing like a bit of scare mongering eh!
The news media is controlled by Murdoch and others who all have an agenda.
Big businesses and media all have an opinion they are sharing, mainly about how it will affect them. What about the human side of the debate? How will it affect the everyday life of individuals.
Now before anyone starts along the lines of “immigrants coming over here and stealing our jobs” – I’ll ask you: Do you personally know anyone who has lost their job to an immigrant? An immigrant who has left all their friends and family behind, knows nobody in the UK, might not speak the language, doesn’t know the culture and yet can steal your job? I suspect that if you are that person you are not very good at your job. I personally don’t know anyone who has lost a job because an immigrant has stolen it. Not a single one.
There have been plenty of these. The problem is whether the news agencies say people are leaning towards ‘leave’ or ‘remain’ the number of voters who are completely undecided will swing the vote. Depending on the pollster and the day the amount of undecided voters appears to be between 5% – 25%! No one can predict with any accuracy whatsoever which way this is going to go. That’s what makes this exciting and nerve wracking at the same time.
What is worrying is the change from household voter registration has meant that a million people have been removed from the voting register. They are entitled to vote but have failed to register to do so. A million people. That’s truly staggering.
Our lives could be about to change forever (or the near future in any rate) or life could carry on as before. Although I am quite sure there will be some political fall out as a consequence of a vote either way. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Poorly behaved MPs should be held to account.
I actually dialled into a webinar run by The Monday Briefing, a Deloitte economic business, which went through the facts. No opinion for or against, just facts. I grant you they were all business and economic facts – but facts they were. They acknowledged the emotion surrounding the debate on immigration and other factors such as jobs and housing – but did not comment further on it. No opinions or condemnations of views – just statement that these emotions and opinions existed.
What do I think? Well that’s a tough one. I’ve never known anything else except being in the EU. I have no experience whatsoever being outside the EU so I don’t know what it would be like. I know what it’s like living in India but that’s hardly comparable. Do I want to hand even more power to Governments who are only ever elected on around 35% -40% of the vote? At least the EU checks that power. That’s the problem though, our sovereignty is being diluted by the EU but is that a bad thing?
I know the absolute pain in the rear it is getting visas to travel to countries outside the EU. Now I know not everyone is fortunate enough to travel extensively and won’t have experienced it. Believe me standing in queues for hours whilst gruff border officials give you a hard time for daring to want to visit their country and spend money there is no fun at all. Miami, Florida is awful but then again that applies to most of the USA airports I’ve experienced – it’s just that some of them have less queuing time than Miami. Getting visas and registering in India literally took days – days! Whole days of my life I won’t get back. I don’t want to have to go through that sort of agony everytime I want to visit a country in Europe.
As an aside, I am quite sure the UK Border Force are equally as intimidating as the rest of the world. It used to be called the immigration service. Now it’s morphed into a ‘force’. Like some military organisation (but without the training I bet). I don’t like it and I didn’t get a say on the matter either – another Government did that somewhere along the lines without consulting the electorate.
What do I like about the EU? The freedom of movement, that peace prevails, that there is the Human Rights Act and there is a right of appeal to the European Courts.
What don’t I like about the EU? The bureaucracy and red tape created for businesses (although to be fair this government is creating more of that at the moment). I don’t like the lack of transparency – we don’t get updates on what the MEPs are doing for us. It’s all a bit vague and opaque.
As Rez and I are currently living in India we have to vote by proxy. As soon as the referendum was announced I contacted the returning officer in Derby and registered on the Government website as an expat voter. Several email exchanges later over several weeks and we established that we were entitled to vote, a postal vote would not be delivered and returned in time (the postal service here is slooowwww and you’re not guaranteed it will arrive anyway), so a proxy vote would be our only option.
Now it’s quite some responsibility giving someone your voting papers and trusting them to vote how you ask them to. I mean it’s not like you can check and neither can anyone else. It is complete trust. After we discussed it both Rez and I thought of the same person straight away. After asking them if they would do it, and they agreed (much to our relief) we were back to exchanging emails with the Returning Officer and arranging consent on all sides. It’s all sorted. So on 23rd June someone will vote for us in the referendum. We just need to decide which way to advise them on how to vote. We think we know how we’re going to vote and we’ll let them know (obviously). The great thing about a democracy is that your vote is secret and it’s between you and the ballot box (and our proxy in our case).
This is my blog and these are my views and opinions. Any vile, abusive or aggressive responses will not see the light of day. Differing opinions and facts are welcome. Propaganda is not welcome. Think before you tap those keys folks.
Ukandeu.ac.uk – independent research on UK-EU relations
Fullfact.org – fact checking everything issued by both sides on the EU referendum
Blogs.deloitte.co.uk – The Monday Briefing EU Referendum primer
Electoral-reform.org.uk – have an online toolkit for a more informed debate