We are getting close to making a really important decision. Should the UK leave the European Union or remain? I am a member of the Labour Party whose official policy is to remain. I have a Remain poster in my window. So I believe that we should stay.
I am not without misgivings though. The Leave campaign is dominated by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. They are plausible and sometimes you almost believe what they are saying. We give lots of money to the EU and don’t get as much back they say. The EU slows growth and leads to stagnant economies they say. Looking at the unemployment rate in southern Europe it’s hard to disagree. The fishermen say the EU has destroyed our fishing industry. Entrepeneurs say the red tape prevents them from expanding their businesses. The farmers seem divided on the issue. Our fields are full of yellow rape because of EU subsidies. As it is not a traditional crop for Britain its existence always irks me. They say we would have money for the NHS and such like if we left.
Are they lying though? Probably. Without being a trained economist it is pretty difficult to sift your way through the business arguments. I have no idea if the economy would be better out or in.
I am basically going with gut feeling and I think this is what most people will do. I don’t trust the Leave campaign. I don’t think they have any great love for the NHS or the needs of ordinary working people. They will say anything to get you to vote their way.
Economics aside I am pro the EU for other reasons. I feel it provides a unifying force in Europe. We need this. The continent has been ravaged by wars deep into the past but this last little while has seen an era of peace and relative prosperity at least for some. The EU forces us to work together, to co-operate. This can only be a good thing. Barriers between nations are lesser. Freedom of movement is greater. Surely this should lead to greater understanding between nations. There is less likelihood of the horrors of the Second World War being repeated. Socialism is about international solidarity and co-operation. The EU seems to be at least in part in the spirit of this.
It doesn’t seem to be a perfect institution by any means. As far as I can see the bureaucracy is bloated and there seem to be far too many people being paid far too much money for doing very little.
I haven’t mentioned immigration as I don’t think it’s central to the argument. However, whenever on the news there is a vox pop in the street people always mention it in the next breath to the EU. The institution seems to be associated with mass immigration in people’s minds. People say there are too many migrants. I live in East Anglia which is traditional farming country. There are quite a lot of Eastern Europeans around in town. They are working on the land or in food processing it seems. Some of them have set up little cafes which are really good. The farmers say they couldn’t manage without them. They say the locals don’t want to do these jobs. I do sometimes wonder if they have ever been offered them. It seems like the employment situation is sewn up by agencies who employ only foreign workers. What does a local school leaver think about this? Are they as feckless and lazy as they are made out to be? I have been looking for work locally and I haven’t got any. I don’t have any great desire to work in the fields but I must say I haven’t seen many of these jobs advertised openly. Perhaps we do need them and they are performing a useful function. Most of them seem to be working very hard. We need to think of our own people as well though.
I am voting to Remain. I do think there is a case for reform though. We want to see all the peoples of Europe prospering with meaningful employment, decent housing and safe communities. I am not sure this is true for a lot of people. I am sure we can do better.
Stay in and fight for a better world.