The Referendum (1)

I haven’t done much with respect to the referendum. My work has rather piled on top of me lately and just at the time when I really want to do a bit less.

I thought I’d write a few things in this last week which I think might be relevant. I didn’t want them to be “you must do this” pieces because although I’m for stay in, I also feel something for the leave – I’d say, kick-yourself-loose , crowd. I haven’t written much for some time, so bear with me.

I thought I’d base these on my own life and how Europe has affected it. I’ve spent my life working for and running SMEs, small and medium enterprises. I’m a motorcyclist (I spent a year as member of council of the British Motorcyclists’ Federation), one of the first “ordinary blokes” groups to feel seriously disadvantaged by the EEC (as it was) and I’m a comics fan. All of those things define me as much as anything.

I thought I’d start with the idea of scaremongering. Both sides have been accused of this, but it’s always seemed to me a bit of a shallow accusation. If you’re scared you want to share it

There’s nothing more scary, the stuff of nightmares, than being frightened of something and realising that everybody else is oblivious to it. But scares are also the reverse side of aspirations. “We must hang together”, as Ben Franklin said, “because, otherwise, we shall assuredly hang separately”.

I shall start with my parents who are dead and thus cannot contradict me (although they would often do so in life). I do not think that anyone can think of them as cowardly. They both stayed in London during the blitz. My father was an anti-aircraft gunner. Were they frightened? I think they were. I remember my mother saying how wearing the blitz was as time went on, especially when the rockets came. They were traditional and patriotic but they also felt that their parents had wrongly turned their backs on Europe and that that was also because of fear.

Europe as a trading block has been pretty successful and it’s had some bad consequences. It’s promoted competition and cheap goods and I think it’s also promoted low wages to the detriment of some of its population. We had to fight to get in and we’ve had to pay for it. If we didn’t that might be a sign of it being a scam. They didn’t want us in – they thought we’d cause trouble – and how right they were. Put that on one side (I’ll come back to it). The principle aim of the common market, the EEC and the EU is to protect us by preventing war. That’s a bit of scaremongering too but I think it’s one my parents would have agreed on.

Some people say that we can rely on NATO. Well, we have a presidential candidate in the USA who isn’t keen on Nato and we have an expansionist leader in Moscow who isn’t keen on it either. The EU can also wield a lot of soft power that Nato cannot. I know some people think that the EU has been too expansionist and has created an adverse situation with Russia. Suppose that is true. Do we want to be in a military alliance with a block of partners over whom we have no control?

So I’ll leave you with the thought of Philip Zec.  Zec always stressed the contribution and suffering of the common man. He got into trouble for it.  Let’s hope we keep it in mind.


Next:     I grew up in a refugee camp

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