My postal ballot arrived today and I have put my inconsiderable weight at the disposal of The Leave side.
This will not come as a surprise to those with whom I have exchanged opinions on the subject over the last couple of months.
I supported the decision to join the EC/’Common Market’ but was aghast at the concessions the UK made at the time in order to join. It was poor deal but one I felt that the UK could live with and improve over time. However I strongly opposed the decision taken by the John Major’s government to sign the Maastricht Treaty. The EU, a vanity project for the small group of European Heads Of State that forged it, has an agenda which in no way reflects the actual political & social consciousness of the majority of the citizens that live in its geographical borders. This truth is laid bare whenever an EU project hits rocky waters; ergo the Euro and refugee crises. That is why, had I been given the choice then, via a referendum, I would have voted against the UK signing up to the EU at that time. And nothing that has happened since really has caused me to change my mind – even though my Eurosceptic views were quite inconvenient as a long-term supporter of The Liberal Party in all its guises.
Scroll forward to 2016. The Liberal Democrats, paying an ill-deserved price for a coalition in which they played a noble part, have disappeared as an effective force in UK national politics. The Tory Party can govern on its own, in the beastly way that only Tory governments can. The Ericle, grasping at straws, decides to join the Labour Party in order to support Jeremy Corbyn – a chink of light on a gloomy political horizon. Cameron, who has kicked the European can up the road to get The Tories through the General Election, decides to call the manifesto-promised referendum sooner rather than later. I await eagerly to hear from Jeremy Corbyn on the subject. The Jeremy Corbyn who:
- when asked about how he voted In 1975 told a rally in 2015, “I did vote and I voted ‘No’.”
- voted against the Maastricht Treaty in 1993 and spoke out against the treaty in Parliament, saying: “It takes away from national Parliaments the power to set economic policy and hands it over to an unelected set of bankers who will impose the economic policies of price stability, deflation and high unemployment throughout the European Community.”
- voted against the Lisbon Treaty, which gave the EU legal and sweeping new powers in 2008, writing in an article at that time, (since deleted from his website!), that there is a “strong socialist argument against the Lisbon Treaty and the economic consequences that flow from it”
- wrote in 2009 that the EU had “always suffered a serious democratic deficit…The project has always been to create a huge free-market Europe, with ever-limiting powers for national parliaments and an increasingly powerful common foreign and security policy.”
This piece is not about Jeremy Corbyn but his betrayal of a position, that he has held throughout his political life – until now, is an outstanding example of how short-term political expediencies have hijacked the debate.
In his February 20th referendum announcement Dave said:
“We are approaching one of the biggest decisions this country will face in our lifetimes: whether to remain in a reformed EU or to leave. The choice goes to the heart of the kind of country we want to be and the future we want for our children”.
In a blog posting, (see here), shortly after the announcement I likened the decision we are being asked to make now as one akin to a married individual who is deciding whether to remain in a marriage. I went on to suggest that
“…given that an irreversible decision has been made to consult on the matter, The Ericle strongly encourages you to vote in response to matters that are fundamental to the relationship rather than on disagreements that have come up at this particular time.”
I have earnestly considered matters in that vein since then. As such I have listened to, but largely disregarded, matters of short-term practical expediency such as the immediate economic consequences of leaving and thought hard about longer-term matters. And in all of these, the question comes down to which institution can one trust more i.e. the EU, as it exists now or may evolve, or the UK national government? And in all these I find for the latter as being more democratic, more dependable and more accountable. Supporting this are factors as to how EU executives are appointed and how few people cast their ballot for the EU legislature.
I have also rocked-and-rolled with all of the arguments that the government-led Remain campaign has come up with, including the calling in of their European & international chums. In all this, all they seem to have brought to the party is fear but no bankable long-term reasons to stay within the EU.
There are 4 potential Remain ‘trump-cards’ that are worth considering:
- that the UK can not make trading arrangements that equal or outweigh those available to us within the EU
- that the EU delivers beneficial policies that the UK would not make on its own accord
- that Brexit is a policy of the extreme right and left of politics
- in a global world, a move from regional political arrangements to national ones is retroactive & counter-intuitive.
The 1st argument is the only one that carries any weight in my estimation. It is indeed a great unknown but given the size of our economy and the fact that all current trade deals remain in situ for 2 years, or longer, it seems to me that what is being suggested is that our future European trading partners will act irresponsibly and vindictively; beyond the commercial economics that would & should dictate trading deals. Seems a weak argument to me.
The 2nd argument is quite frankly ridiculous. Why can’t, or shouldn’t, the UK government deliver economic and social policies that are fair, reasonable and in the interest of the country in terms of its communities or as a whole. What’s more I’m wholly unconvinced by the argument that the EU has a conscience that is lacking in a UK government. And this applies to immigration too.
The 3rd argument is similarly nonsensical, driven as it is by that particular British disease of judging and damning by association; aided and abetted by a largely Remain-supporting personality-led media that is delivering sound-bites rather than sound argument. Remain by all means but vote on the basis of the arguments – not because you are (rightly) embarrassed by the pronouncements of the Big Beasts of The Right & the Left
Last but not least, that we should remain because to leave EU is a backwards step. Really? From where I see it the EU is a, barely democratic, busted flush that demonstrably can’t deal with the major issues that confront it. Moreover what is the sanity of being part of an institution whose major long-term agenda, of a Federal Europe, we do not support. And as for influence from within, what sort of influence will the UK be as a refusenik to the major policy directions of the Euro & a increasing European federalism. In fact, – if the EU actually survives, Brexit or otherwise – I foresee the UK being a much bigger directional influence by demonstrably not being a party to the EU’s inappropriate and unattainable ambitions.