Wednesday 22 June 2016

No Brexit, please we're British

Apart from being a Citizen of the World, I think of myself as a European.  When strangers hear my British 'middle-class-southern' accent in Ireland, they ask where do you come from . . . and then, pushing, no no where do you really come from? Depending on how tired I am, I'll give them the 'horse-riding protestant from King's County' answer or a terser "Well, I was born in Dover, because my Mum was born in Dover and she went home to deliver the sprogs. But I think we lived in Dover for about 3 months before my naval father was given a new posting elsewhere".  So my passport is owned by Mrs Windsor but I'm more of a republican than many Shinners and have been since before many of them were born. I've rowed in behind Europe and the EU, which has been really good to/for me - getting me teaching gigs in Finland and Norway and indeed in Turkey; and a lot of trips to Brussels.  Without the EU, I'd never have shared an office with a Polack or a Greek, nor made friends with Austrians, Magyars, Swedes and Spaniards. There is the wider issue of the good which the EU has achieved in a) 'equilibrating upwards' the dispossessed across the continent and b) encouraging travel to, and work in, 'foreign' countries to stir things up and drive synergies

And tomorrow, there is referendum about EU membership across the water, arguably even more important than the Marriage Equality Referendum that engaged and finally delighted us <phew!> last year. Where will a Brexit leave me? Washed up in an alien land, is where.  If the Brexit people want to avoid taking their share of the refugees, and they do, then surely the civilised rump of Europe might be tempted to ship all the Brits back home to their blimpy backward-looking monarchy to make way for deserving Syrian paediatricians.

Three points / anecdotes.

1. Richard Dawkins, god-the-father-hating atheist for hire, can get tediously ranty about the idiocy of a belief in the afterlife or any sort of deity. But he said something rather on the button reflecting about him voting on whether the UK should stay in or leave from the EU. "What do I know about the consequences of either outcome?", he asked, with unaccustomed modesty. He liked the idea of voting for an MP to sort out those political issues which he had neither the time, nor the inclination, nor the training, to research.  He presumably preferred to concentrate his remaining years marshalling arguments against homeopathy, the literal interpretation of the bible, jihadism of any and all sects . . . it's been years since he did any original science. This argument is really doubtful [and might therefore make you take his anti-religious arguments with a large pinch of salt?]. Why should an ex- barrister, -farmer, -army-officer, -dentist or -trade union shop steward be better qualified to see into the future than an ex-scientist?  Nevertheless, his point is that making such decisions 'democratically' in a referendum is hardly the best way to get everyone to review the economic and social consequences of leaving the EU.  It's about informed consent, folks.

2. I then talked to my mother, 96 and still lucid, mobile and looking after herself in her own home. She summed up her position as [I paraphrase!] "That Tony Blair [ex-Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party] is a) insufferably vain and b)  a right shifty git always out for some personal benefit. And that [current PM], David Cameron, is a privileged toff who's never held down a proper job".  If these creatures were advocating white, my mother was a definite black and she was going to vote for Brexit. I'm pretty sure that level of political insight is what will direct most people's vote. It seems that the Leavers, ever and always looking to a fantasy past when Britain-was-Great, have gotten a shot in the arm over anxieties about the capacity for, and consequences of, accepting [tanned] refugees. None of them pause to reflect that the foreign policy of successive Great British governments has destabilised so many other countries and supplied arms to both sides in so many conflicts, that they are effectively responsible for many of the refugees. So they should therefore, like, be responsible for them. "I meant take care of him not take care of him".

3. I was down last weekend with access to the TV and heard a debate in which David Cameron and other interested parties were grilled by a studio audience  about the desirability of leaving or staying in the EU.  One rhetorical question hinged on whether someone like my mother [96] really has locus standi to decide the future for Dau.I [22]. In the Scottish Independence referendum last year, there was a clear and statistically significant discrepancy between the preferences of the young [Independence] and the old [Union] and the tottering ranks of silverbacks carried the day.  They locked the youngsters into a situation that a majority of them didn't want.  Poor young Scots, having been committed "for a generation" to being a poor relation of London and the Home Counties, now face the prospect of being cast adrift from Europe in the same boat with angry fuckwits, parasitic bankers and flag-waving Sassenachs.

The Brits have  a moral obligation to accept refugees from the results of their interventions [that's the whole of the world, pretty much].  They have a moral obligation to help those less fortunate, beyond sending £50 to Oxfam when an earthquake is in the news. But there's carrot as well. Diversity is a good thing!  It makes life more interesting. Economic migrants are going to work hard for their living and make us all richer. Victorian England was full of political and economic refugees - "Between 1823 and 1906 no foreign refugee was expelled from Britain.": Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels for starters but hundreds of musicians, scientists and industrialists.

I beseech both my British readers to vote Stay tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Blob, unfortunately we are past the crossroads in a big way