Once I finish writing this I am going to vote in today’s European Union referendum as should you. A vote for “Remain” or “Brexit” adds-up and the option with the most votes wins. No constituencies, local lists, proportional representation. Nothing will tilt the weight of your vote – it’s an equal measure.
I won’t try to push you one way of the other but here are a few considerations of the event.
During last night’s chaotic Channel 4 ‘debate’ Penny Pepper was (and quite possibly literally) wheeled on to say that the rights of disabled people could be affected by this vote and before she could air any views she was promptly shut down. I had never considered this viewpoint before and wanted more, but no “cut to politician” rings in the ears of a baffled Jeremy Paxman and Penny is dropped. At least C4 had Penny in the audience, but it did nothing other than tick some box – a wasted opportunity for us all to gain another perspective.
This show highlighted how intolerant we the audience has become. A politician or audience member may express a view, not even a provocative view only to be met by shouts and rushed attempts to ‘put them right’ by other audience members. Question Time has degenerated in a similar way when Eddie Izzard and Nigel Farage exploded it was an audience member barking out “Shut up”. This highlights two points:
- Too many are becoming intolerant of views we don’t share. A worrying trend as people find an easier life by surrounding themselves in Facebook ‘friends’, Twitter followers and real-life friends that match their own world view. Couple this with a tendency to rush to judgement based on a headline and we have a toxic combination of intolerance and closed-minds. If you join a debate you should use your ears as much if not more than your mouth. Get a chance to speak and you will produce a well thought point that may help another. STOP SHOUTING PEOPLE! Listen, think then elevate an arm.
- TV debate formats are breaking because the Chairperson has frankly given-up. These tend to be old and once trusted weighty personalities. Its time for new blood and balls to install some order. Julia Etchingham ran one ITV debate very efficiently that points the way forward.
I have sorely missed quiet and intimate 1:1 long-form interviews of Politicians. Sixty minutes or longer. Andrew (Brillo) Neill received only 20m and then used it to claim scalps rather than reveal. Marr, Peston and Murnaghan are lucky to get 20m with any politician. When I was in short-trousers, Sunday’s were filled with such interviews where the viewer not only saw firm questioning, but gained light of the character being interviewed because it was long eg. Brian Walden’s Weekend World. Question Time panels have degraded for some time. During Thatchers time the Chancellor and Secretaries for Foreign, Defence, Industry, Home Office and more always appeared. Today we get served lower level functionaries distancing further people from power.
The popular newspaper media in the UK has been terrible as usual for such a campaign. Every day was spent building to today’s front pages. Views and prejudices carried by powerful owners who live abroad pumped-out to a crescendo of vomit so vast that you, dear reader cannot fail to wade through it. What a smell at the newsstand – get shovelling! Is 80% of newspapers that are pro-Brexit reflective of 50:50 public opinion? Did any newspaper enter this debate without prior leanings? My frustration is borne out of desire for newspapers to succeed. They are vital to hold power to account, but this referendum suffocates a lot of good investigative work until after polling day. Then you will hear the stories…
Another perspective missing from the debate is from Europe. To understand how this island’s exit from Europe may change the current EU requires you to seek-out programs like France24’s debate show. Diverse opinions that sometimes illuminate from a different perspective. Each country must choose to be a member in the EU, but there will be consequences if we left. A consideration of history and traits of some EU countries to fall from within before waging war requires our consideration.
An opposing viewpoint to your own demands ears and head connect before the mouth
Travel broadens the mind and fills your head with new perspectives. The UK population needs a European mini-break, not to leave but a visit. There is little we can’t solve if we take a seat at the table and persuade others. Not as a semi-detached islander, we must commit with resolve. French, German, Polish….are just the same as us.
One area of this campaign that has caused greatest difficulty for both sides is immigration of people into the UK, particularly over the past ten years or so. The population of the UK has increased significantly in that period. I believe this has benefited the country, however I accept it has caused pressure. Logically more people means more services (health, education, tax, benefits) and space (houses, towns). In the 60’s and 70’s several New Towns were constructed in Scotland to accommodate increasing population overspill from Glasgow and aid replacement of pre-war housing stock. I don’t think everyone feeling the pressures of overpopulation are automatically racist as many Liberal/Left wing commentators like to label. Some are clearly racist, many are not. For those who are not racist, but live in such a community immigration can easily appear as cause of the pressure. However, perception is not reality. Examine how many new houses, hospitals, GP surgeries, schools have been built? How many more recruits to the Police force, fire and local council? What has changed in the past ten years to help these immigrants settle in their chosen country? Ironically thanks to the crash of 2008 (read Michael Lewis’s books) the narrative has been Austerity i.e. smaller services with fewer employees, frozen housebuilding, fewer Police and rationalised local authorities. Blaming immigration in this toxic landscape is an easily signposted misdirection. Shame on the Blair/Brown administration for not planning and investing in services and space to support immigration levels. Shame on the Cameron governments for service shrinkage at the same immigration levels. The most shame falls on the Left/Liberal media and Politicians for this failure of government and later failure to explain what they have done. Such silence and casual frittering of the racist label on people like confetti actually breeds more racism not less. Parents know if you continually label an errant child as ‘bad’ then it will grow with that association. This is what we have done thanks to our so-called informing Left-Liberal media.
The right-wing? The EU has consistently been fifth or lower as an election issue at every general election for past 30 years. So why hold a referendum? It came out of the blue from Cameron as a strategy to counteract the growth in popularity of Brexit incarnate UKIP and to end the internal split within his Conservative party. It worked for two years as John Major’s so-called “Bastards” fell silent awaiting their day in the media sun, but will it last into tomorrow when the sun sets? This unnecessary event was created to patch-up one political party’s existential crack. If Brexit wins, Cameron is toast within 24 hours and Conservatives hold another leadership election possibly followed by another General Election this year. If Remain wins, Conservatives still have their crack only longer and deeper, to the point of fracture? So how did this Referendum help Cameron whatever way it goes? Idiotic thinking by him. Playing with fire to use the electorate as filler to heal a crack in his party.
Time to declare as if you have not guessed. I’m an innie and think will always be.
I still don’t know why Scotland is so pro-euro compared to England’s separation. Perhaps the many Highland roads and bridges or village improvement projects that sport a plaque with an EU funding flag accounts for 5-10%, but McRemainers are expected to outnumber MacBrexitors by 25%, what causes this fascinating difference?
In each General Election for government every political party publishes a manifesto to describe their policies, beliefs and direction. Is it not odd given this more impactful referendum that we have no plan from Brexit groups. That was an error, assuming they lose.
Whatever your view, VOTE as the difference could be brexit power of one.