Fiction with an edge

Sunday, 26 June 2016

EU referendum - a shot in the dark or a blaze of light?

The EU referendum has set the UK nation at one another's throats, young against old, rich against poor, Scots (who overwhelmingly voted Remain) against anyone who voted 'Leave'. Many are saying this vote was the chance for the disaffected to voice their anger at the way the Government has ridden roughshod over the industrial north, the midlands, the forgotten southwest, in fact anywhere outside of London. If this is the case then why did no one see this result coming? Is the Government so out of touch with the people that from its ivory towers it has lost sight of what’s important to the nation – what frightens and what gels people? Is there no interest in anything that happens outside of the capital?  

At the last election the Prime Minister, David Cameron, offered the referendum to the people - guaranteed that if they voted Conservative he would deliver it – and he did. I don't know whether at the time it was a ploy to gain voters or a genuine altruistic gesture to give the people a voice on an organisation that he and his party must have felt was causing problems. After all you wouldn't offer a referendum on something that was not causing problems – would you? Whatever his motives, there is an old adage that says "You don't offer a referendum unless you know you're going to win". Now, either he'd never heard of the saying or he just assumed that, when he went to the EU to campaign to rewrite our terms of membership, Donald Tusk, (president of the European council) would agree to his demands. Tusk and his colleagues didn't agree.

So, David Cameron began telling us what others of all party colours had been saying, that the UK could thrive outside of the EU 

Then a few weeks later we began getting the scare stories – vote Remain or the economy will collapse, our security will be weakened, there could be war ... it was like someone had told Cameron and his colleagues that there was a remote chance that some people might vote Leave and maybe he should stop saying we can survive outside the EU and scaremonger those independent thinkers and Euro sceptics back into the fold. Then we had President  Obama telling us we should remain in the EU – suggesting that if we left then the 'special relationship' between our countries would somehow be irreparably damaged. Many people who felt the sovereignty of the UK was being lost under EU interference didn't take kindly to President Obama threatening us with excommunication – telling us to cow-tow to the EU or else. We know that the UK being part of the EU benefits the US in many ways – and maybe President Obama was worried that this way into the continent of Europe would be lost to the US. (I wonder how he would take it if our PM suggested that he allow another nation to control his future?)   

A plethora of scare stories began to abound from both the Remain and the Leave camps. So much so that people didn't know what to believe and what not to. The worst of this was that the politicians and gurus offering these warnings seemed to have their own agendas (party leadership – personal gains – financial interests) so could we believe them? The financial institutions – the ones who told us a few years ago that we would be finished if we didn't join the Euro – pitched in too. But what no one, except the people living in those regions of the UK, was seeing was the effect of the deprivation, the growing food banks, the zero hours contracts, the closed high street shops,  infrastructures unable to cope, not enough houses being built and the fact that we could not control our borders. David Cameron had said he would get immigration down to the tens of thousands – that failed. The question of immigration became a huge issue on both the for and against the EU sides. People who wanted controls placed on immigration were being made to feel like racists – when all they wanted was to control the influx, so that the country could budget for the numbers coming in and get the infrastructure in a position where it could cope (which it’s not doing at the moment). But the free movement of the EU membership prevented that. Of course then there were scare stories about poorer countries joining the EU and whether that influx of economic migrants into this country would be capable of being controlled. People who felt that the sovereignty of this country was being eroded were being called ‘Little Englanders’ – when all they wanted was for the elected Government of this country to be setting the rules for the nation – and if that government cocked-up then the nation had the facility to vote it out – something that can’t be done with the EU.

So there we have it – scaremongering from all sides, an out-of-touch arrogance from the Government and 52% of the electorate which felt disenfranchised by an unelectable and remote body.

June 23rd 2016 will certainly go down in history – maybe as the voting person’s revolution, but there is no going back and, now, we must get on with endeavouring to heal the rift between the Leave and Remain camps and put this great country back on the global rails.