“Never, in the field of human history, has so little been known by so many about something so important,” is what Winston Churchill might have said, should he have lived to see the political shambles that now surrounds us. In the run-up to the June 23rd British referendum on whether we remain a member of the European Union, or choose to leave, we will be assailed with lots of opinions and thinly disguised threats, but few facts, to raise our stress levels to Critical, as we are asked to vote on a leap into the unknown – on the social, political and cultural direction our country should take.
Okay, maybe I shouldn’t be gloomy about this. It is always exciting to pack for a journey into the unknown, except you don’t really know what to pack. Better to travel light, like Frodo Baggins heading off for the adventure of a lifetime and to save his world from the forces of evil. It could be fun, but are we collectively up to the challenge of forging a new identity on our wind-swept rock off the north-west coast of Europe? Geographically speaking, we can’t leave Europe, and should we vote to leave the EU our nearest neighbours – France and Ireland – will still be member states. So there can be no dramatic, “I’m off then!” followed by a slamming of the door. We aren’t going anywhere, and in the event of an exit, will have to talk to (and try to trade with) grumpy neighbours whom we have chosen to reject. No one can say, categorically, how they will take it. Yes, trade may go on, as money tends to find a way of multiplying in the hands of capitalists, but they may choose to reject us. Make an example of us. After all, we would be rejecting their great post-War European peace and integration project.
You see, I’m already saying it – Them and Us. Shouldn’t I be saying, ‘OUR great post-War peace and integration programme?’ And here lies the problem. Because we occupy an island, suspicious of our mainland neighbours, who at various times during our violent history have sent armies to invade and generally make our lives a misery (and vice versa), we don’t really feel a part of their club. We were not defeated and occupied during World War II, and we all survived the Cold War, so we remain bullish in the face of security threats, whereas our European mainland neighbours are more worried about history repeating itself and internal tribal feuds boiling over into messy wars. For them, the EU is a necessity, and is seen as a major reason why relative peace (aside from the Balkans re-adjustment, and Russian aggression in the east) has prevailed over the past 70+ years.
The OUT campaigners will say that our security is assured by our membership of NATO, and as long as we stay pals with the USA, then they will back us up in a fight. We hope… Remember what happened in 1940? Churchill begged President Rosevelt for help to resist German invasion. Instead, he pointed out that he had to campaign for re-election, and the will of the American people was against getting involved in a messy war in Europe. But he did agree to sell us 40 of their oldest war ships, in return for territories in the Pacific. Thankfully, we were able to hold out until the Americans eventually turned up in 1944. At least then, the British Empire had something to offer in exchange for assistance. What do we have now? I’m prepared to discard security as a major factor in the vote, as I accept that our NATO membership is more important than being linked to a flimsy and dis-trusted EU defence force.
Secure our borders! A major reason to vote to leave. Will it work? No! It will make little difference, and no one is even willing to discuss the favoured politics of growing a large unskilled international labour pool. This horse has well and truly bolted. Britain has changed dramatically since the time of Margaret Thatcher, where the class warriors of the Conservative Party (aided by Blair’s New Labour) came up with a fiendishly clever plan to undermine the emancipated working class by simply by-passing them. They had become troublesome to business owners with their demands for fair pay and insistence on safety in the workplace. Too many holidays and too well paid. How can a greedy capitalist ever afford an island in the Carribean?
No, let’s replace them with eager and desperate foreigners, easily exploited and less likely to cause trouble. With over 10 million recent settlers from Commonwealth and European countries now living and working in the UK, this debate has already been decided. An OUT vote will not lead to settlers being thrown out, nor stop those living here from continuing to send for their friends and relatives, unless there is a major downturn in our economy. Infact, for what remains of the British working class, a vote to leave the EU will see their slim work prospects diminish even more, their cost of living go up, and they’ll be driven further into the arms of exploitative, greedy right-wing capitalists who will continue to control the political agenda. Sorry guys, you’re already screwed. Better stay in the EU where there is some social policy to protect you.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what it all boils down to. Forget security, immigration, the rise in the cost of living, Herman Van Rumpouy’s cheesy grin, Angela Merkel’s pudding basin haircut and nylon trousers. These things are distracting window displays. This vote is all about how you want to be governed – your vision of the future. A vote to leave pushes us away from European integration, but towards Britain being a haven for tax-dodging corporations, bankers, traders, cash-rich dictators, oil barons and the Chinese. The current political trend of stripping away our personal freedoms will be accelerated. In time, we will no longer be citizens at all, just a multi-cultural amorphous body of serfs, working for a pittance for your lord and master. Furthermore, leaving the EU will almost certainly lead to the break-up of the Union, with the remaining states looking even more puny and insignificant on the world stage. We will be bullied into accepting unfavourable conditions of trade and suffer shortages, whilst the wealthy elite will continue to feather their nests and pass on all cost increases to us, the powerless consumer. EU legislation holds this process in check, or at least up for scrutiny.
So here it is…the last and most important fight for your freedom. Don’t be misled into believing you will share in a liberating independence outside of EU membership. Your personal freedoms and quality of life will diminish. EU citizens will still have rights and the protection of the law long after ours have gone. There are no grounds to believe things will get better. Quite the reverse. Political opportunists will thrive on fear of the unknown, and we risk getting sucked into poverty and oppression. Don’t risk it… vote to stay IN.