Brexistential Crisis

OK voting day. Whatever happens, after this we know where we stand.

So just enough time for one more long, long rant, to add to the others. And it’s a doozy. I’m sorry. But in the words of Mark Twain “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

So just lie back and think of England (and/or Europe), and we can get through it.

I’m voting Remain. This is perhaps no surprise. But what might surprise you is that I was genuinely open to either option going into it.

The EU is by no means perfect, some bits (TTIP for instance) scare the bejeesus out of me. But I did research. A lot of research. And I got lots of opinions from other people. And Remain is the only sensible option. Here’s my reasoning.

1) The EU have no reason to be nice to us if we leave.

In fact they have every reason NOT to be nice – they don’t want others to think they can go it alone too. We trade with them a lot, so they have an interest in setting up deals. But if selling a few extra cars comes at the cost of losing France to a Frexit too, then they’ll probably find somewhere else to sell to instead.

It’s like quitting your job in a dramatic fashion, smashing your bosses windscreen, telling everyone how shit you think they are, then asking if you can still come in and use your old desk. Even if some of the work you’re doing could be for your old boss, they won’t want you around distracting the proper employees. And they’ve still got a windscreen to pay off.

2) If we leave, we still want to be tied to the EU through trade.

The very best case scenario for the Leave campaign involves a trade deal with the EU. This means we would still be tied by all that “bureaucratic red tape” we’re trying to escape – we can’t sell them goods that don’t meet their standards, for instance, so we’d need to meet the standards. Just without any kind of say on what those standards are.

Plus we’d probably have to pay lots of money (as the non-EU countries under the agreement already do). But we won’t get a say.

So it’s like choosing to move from a full time contract at work to being a freelancer who does most of their work for them anyway. You do the same work, get the same results, but don’t get a say in the direction, or any of the cool bonuses, holiday pay etc that full employees do. Oh sure, there’s the chance you could get work elsewhere, but everyone else who’d hire you are too busy working with your old boss to notice or care you’re going it alone. You’re one person, no matter how good you are at your job, the 27 people at your old company combined are better.

3) Immigration isn’t a bad thing

You can be forgiven 100% for thinking it is. We’re fed a daily diet of stories designed to make us think immigration is bad. But the best analogy I ever read for it online (I can’t remember where otherwise I’d link to it) was it’s like having a cake cut into ten slices – the bankers and media-moguls take nine slices, then say to you “hey, that immigrant is trying to take your slice”.

Immigration causes a net gain to our economy – they put in more than they take out. And they take out less per head than us citizens do. They don’t drive down wages. They make our country and our culture richer. And it works both ways – we have people disappear over seas too, to places like Spain. In fact, we’re basically trading pensioners and their assorted health costs for young, smart, eager workers putting into the economy. Bonus.

And any student of history can tell you that this is a scary path to go down. It’s what happens in fascist countries – men arrive and tell you all your problems are down to a group of people, but if something could be done about them everything will be better. It’s not true. It’s never been true. And it can’t be allowed to change.

We say it’s not a race thing, it’s a broader problem with “them trying to come over here trying to get something for nothing”. It could be anyone, of any race. But then Nigel Farage, when called out on why he’d rather have Germans living next door than Romainians, replies “you know the difference” and it starts to set alarm bells off. Then the “Breaking Point” poster for Ukip this week was almost exactly the same as a poster by the Nazis. They chose Jewish people.

You are not racist just because you vote Leave. I cannot stress that enough. There are other reasons to hold that view. However, I do think all racists will vote Leave. And that says something to me.

The problems we do have are down to poor government. We don’t have enough houses, because the government hasn’t built more. The NHS is struggling, because of lack of investment (after all doctors aren’t striking because of immigration, in fact 26% of doctors are born abroad). And we live under austerity because the government gave £500 billion to the banks, not because of the small amount we pay to EU workers (£530m in 2013 – but again they put more in than they take out).

I think fascism has never really got a grip in the UK because we value fair play. We’re the country who perfected the queue for heaven’s sake. We have a strong sense of what’s right. When the American troops came over during WW2, we treated them the same whether they were white or black. They were people doing a job, and deserved our respect. Plus we absorb new parts of other cultures rather than shun them. Just look at our language, a melting pot of bastardised phrases, loanwords and mixed etymologies that make it so wonderful.

We’re told every day by tax-avoiding media moguls that immigrants are after our money. And if you’re told something often enough, you can’t help but start to think there must be truth to it. But when it comes down to it, I think we Brits don’t like bullies. We value fairness, and if someone wants to come along and share those values, work hard, and make something of themselves, then they’re welcome with open arms. And don’t let anyone try and change that.

4) If in doubt, look at who agrees with which side

Everyone who knows anything seems to agree with Remain. Scientists. Economists. Every financial institution. Every former Prime Minister, the majority of parliament, almost every single international politician. Basically anyone who’s job it is to know what they’re talking about.

I’m as happy as anyone to take an unpopular opinion if I think it’s correct (come on, I’m a lefty in naturally-conservative England) but to stand up in the face of all those people saying something will be bad and only having the defence “no it won’t” is just the political equivalent of the Black Knight from Monty Python’s Holy Grail.

What’s worse is the active anti-intellectualism being pushed. It seems they can’t disagree with Nobel prize winners, respected economists and professionals who’ve spent their entire academic career study these sorts of issues, so they’ve taken the route of saying that people are sick of experts, and tired of facts. The Colbert Report was meant as satire, it wasn’t a guide to winning an argument. This is not only an insult to the British population, it’s scary. Gove was crying yesterday that Remain are like the Nazis, where he’s telling us to believe the Party line despite, ignoring the facts, the experts and reasoned arguments. We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

Even if I didn’t have other reasons, this alone would be enough to make me vote Remain. It genuinely scares me that this is considered reasonable political discourse. I thought we were better. No, I know we are better. So we can’t let it win.

So there it is. My full rant in all its glory. Disagree with it. Share it. Print it out and put it on the fridge if you want. Just make sure you go out and vote.

And preferably vote Remain.