Firstly let me say that this is a very, very rare post for me. I have never before publicly written about or quoted any political, or religious beliefs I hold. I don’t feel the need to and I don’t think you’re interested anyway. It’s also inherently divisive and I see no need in stirring hatred. There’s enough of that in the world already.
However this is different.
There’s an awful lot of noise, venom, vitriol and plain lies out there right now. And for the first time ever I feel the need to simply say my piece.
Feel free to stop reading right now, it’s quite OK.
I voted to remain part of the EU. And this, I admit, is after years of being a traditionally passive British moaner about the ‘injustice of it all’.
Indeed in my previous career in specialist car sales, I sold high end cars to Euro Zone MP’s who seemed to have a limitless expenses account. So you’d imagine I could see the waste and injustice of it all.
Here’s why I voted to remain and how I came to the decision.
I stopped listening to the popular press and actually formed my own opinion.
I asked those around me who’s opinions I valued. My father, my sons, those who’s world views I admire.
I examined the arguments on both sides and found them both to be full of rhetoric, injustice and plain damn lies. Both sides.
JK Rowling has written in a far more eloquent style than me on the subject, as you would obviously expect. Her blog post was published prior to the vote, though it makes superb reading even today
For me, it comes down to what the effects of leaving or remaining REALLY are. Not what an analyst’s best guess is, not what a politician with a personal agenda says. And not what a newspaper mogul thinks you should be reading.
Firstly, Finance? Really?
The financial argument is irrelevant. Politicians waste money. It’s the nature of the beast. Get over it.
It’s the nature of this particularly inept beast that inefficiencies are driven by every politician’s own personal agenda, promises and loyalties. History is littered with spectacular examples of ineptitude by politicians and governments who waste money all over the world, across Europe. And here in the UK too. Very often, they don’t mean to do it. They just do.
Remember The Millenium Dome?
The £500m Chinook helicopter order? You don’t know about that one? Here’s two links for some reading.
So you see, even after we leave the EU, which now looks almost certain, they will continue wasting money.
There’s nothing that I can do about that. Time to move on.
The myth of all of this money returning to the UK is just that. It may possibly ‘return’, only to be wasted.
Would I, personally ever see any of it? Not a chance. It will have absolute effect on me at all. Therefore it’s also irrelevant.
Next, The Old Securing Our Borders Trick.
The media get all hysterical about immigrants strolling straight through our borders, not a passport check in sight, straight to the Social Security Office. Nobody mentions that the UK never ever signed up to be part of the Schengen Area. What’s that? You don’t know about the Schengen Agreement? Do some research.
We also happen to have probably the finest security specialists, armed forces and criminal intelligence services in the world. Additionally, we have a body of water that forms a natural moat for those times when terrorism increases and the people you never know about need to step up their efforts to keep us all safe.
The EU Needs Our Help.
So what about the poorer EU states who are being supported by our contributions? The countries that are sitting back and enjoying financial support and our hard earned expense, freeloading on the EU grants they receive?
Well hopefully they are getting help. Lots of help.
Why is that? Surely they will all be flooding to our shores? Stealing our jobs? Getting EU Grants that we should be getting?
Organising criminal gangs and scammer rings that sell Big Issue and split the profits?
In fact, pretty much all of the people who live in these states would probably like to stay there, in their own homes and close to their families. Wouldn’t you?
Financial support to these states has proved to be a huge help to them.
And really, would that financial assistance that they need so badly actually have any real significant financial impact on me? Unlikely.
Many of these Eastern European states have spent decades under Soviet influence. Their infrastructure has never really been developed, they have little industry and many were quite feudal when they joined the EU.
Yet take a look at some of them now.
Estonia is now acknowledged as one of the leaders in digital commerce. Wired Magazine called Estonia the most advanced digital society in the world. Isn’t that an accolade you would be proud of?
A friend of mine went on holiday this summer, sailing out of Croatia. She was amazed at the busy tourism economy in each port they stayed at that had arisen from a state that was once known for war, atrocities and corruption. EU registered cars were everywhere as families from across Europe all holidayed and enjoyed the sunshine. Bars and restaurants were all busy. When asked about the state of things, the Croatians all claimed proudly that EU membership was pivotal to the country’s recovery.
You see the good that the EU has brought to previously beaten, war ravaged, worn out countries? The very people that you worried are coming here, stealing our jobs, are actually enjoying life in their home country.
And the alternative is that they would be drawn back to the Soviet era that they have only just emerged from.
So why are we so inherently sceptical about Europe? And why are we not moving forward?
My view is the the UK has been for in Europe ‘reluctantly’ for decades.
Like a bad tempered, petulant child who doesn’t want to go to school, we are tagging along at the rear, being dragged there. Yet we are one of the top three prime movers in Europe. Why are we so negative?
Because we’ve done a very, very poor job of not investigating the facts for ourselves. Instead, for years the Gatekeepers in the grey suits have decided, through owning and influencing our media outlets, what our stance and beliefs on Europe should be.
They’ve told us what to think of our European neighbours.
Our own political parties have also done a very poor job indeed of informing us all of the benefits of EU membership.
You would like to think that in recent times, we have the tools available to us to wake up, do our own searching, form our own opinions and stop sucking in the bias and agendas of the media giants.
Sadly, we seem to be doing the opposite. As a nation, we seem to have bred a generation of sheep who are very disinterested in what is happening around them on many subjects, happy to click and share the latest click bait on Facebook, without even pausing to consider if it was true. It has allowed companies such as Cambridge Analytica to take control of our opinions and control people like a sheepdog controls sheep.
In fact, instead of leaving Europe, what we should be doing is leading from the front.
Right now, I can almost hear the crack of knuckles as the keyboard heroes warm themselves up to crucify me online.
I said that I would explain how I decided and who’s opinions I valued.
So here are the views of the people I valued and asked.
My Dad was a small child in World War Two. He lived in Middlesbrough, close to both the railway station and the docks. He told me he can remember holding his mother’s hand as they ran for the air raid shelter, looking up to the sky and seeing a cluster of bombs falling from the belly of an aircraft as the infrastructure was attacked.
He said it was the most terrifying thing of his life. He voted to remain, as the peace in Europe is the longest in may hundreds of years. He doesn’t wish anyone to live through the fear and hardship he endured, whether they’re British or any other EU country.
I have two sons. One was eligible to vote, the other missed out by just a few days in his date of birth. They both want to remain EU citizens. They’re a pair of cool young men now and I’m proud of them. They could see the benefits of EU membership. They are also aware of the many shortcomings – and there are indeed many – though on balance, they felt that it was better to remain EU members and put a whole load more effort into reforming the wrong parts, rather than quitting all together.
I’ve always been an admirer of the man. Just like the EU, he was far from perfect and like any human, he had many faults. Indeed both Leave and Remain have been using differing viewpoints to claim that he would have been in Vote Leave or Vote Remain.
I cannot think that he would vote leave. Quite apart from his speeches in The Hague in the years following WW2, his overall view as a human was one of globalisation and inclusion, rather than one of isolation.
You may well think that my views are overly simplistic.
I’m happy for you to think that.
Personally, I prefer to see them as more of a higher altitude viewpoint. One where I look beyond merely what is best for me. A view where I didn’t just think about my own circumstances, rather the impact this will have on the whole geographical region.
More importantly than myself, what is best for Europe, for the rapidly shrinking world we live in and for the young people who will be living and working throughout Europe in the years to come?
Now please understand. I’m not a hater of the people who voted leave. They have their reasons and hopefully, they came to their own decision using the same process I did and not through a casual glance at a tabloid newspaper or through historical bigotry.
The EU parliament as we know it is far, far from perfect. However, that’s different to the actual Europe and the people of Europe. As European citizens we all need to talk to one another an awful lot more.
Whatever finally happens, the aftermath will last a long time. It’s going to take time for everyone to calm down, start trusting one another again and move on with the process of working together and enjoying a peaceful Europe.
The kind of Europe that the broken soldiers of World War One would have been proud of a century ago. And one that today’s teenagers will enjoy and prosper in.
Feel free to comment below. Be constructive, not abusive.