The referendum… tomorrow!
This title comes from the Radio 4 Show, PM, and its title for the section on the referendum. I think it somes up a lot about teh referendum, as it really has nto been nearly as intensively debated in an engaged way as the scottish referendum on independence. It really feels like a snap decision, and in many ways that is because most people feel general apathy towards the EU, and probably aren’t too bothered whether we leave it or not. A few people have had long-standing dislike for the EU project, and they are a significant few within the Conservative party. Even more have had a hatred for the EU stirred up, that they didn’t even know they possessed, by recent anti-EU and anti-immigration rhetoric; when I say recent, I mean a sustained campaign of over a decade or so by newspapers led by the Express, but backed up very ably by the Daily Mail, the Sun and even the Telegraph at times.
To sum up my view, this is the worst type of referendum, an exercise in direct democracy in which a ridiculously complex and expensive question has been dummed down to a single question. How can anyone be expected to make this decision based on a rational thought, and when it comes to emotions, it feels like too few of us actually care about the EU, other than a few extreme anti- and pro- EU people (yes there are extreme europhiles – I definitely used to fall within the extreme EU-aphile camp). The main anti-EU sentiment is actually anti-immigrant, or xenophobic anti-foreigner sentiments, based on the poor economic circumstances which lots of people find themselves in.
So, I am digging no deeper than this, and saying that most of the anti-EU sentiment is for the wrong reason. Xenophobia is not a good reason for anything, but on top of that, the main argument for being against anti-immigrant is thin at best. I feel that England is over-crowded, for my ideal, but economically the argument against the current rates of immigration is not strong, and ethically I think it is completely wrong, and misundertands the nature of our stable globalised world we now live in – closing the draw-bridge is not going to make us safer, and probably just reduce our standing and regard in the eyes of the rest of the world.
So, unsurprisingly, I am strongly in favour of staying in the EU. I also feel that anti-EU sentiment is not string enough to win tomorrow, and even if it does win, I suspect the pro-EU sentiment will bubble to the surface and stir up europhiles in the UK, preventing an easy path to separation from the EU. Let’s see what happens tomorrow…