|Somewhere in Europe, nice isn't it?|
I know some people have concerns about the political and geo-political situation in the UK, and some of that is aimed at the EU and some is aimed at foreigners, but I believe both of these miss the mark. Many of the things we are concerned about (austerity, the housing shortage, tax dodging, the NHS, war in Iraq and Syria etc) are the fault of the UK government and the blame should lie with them. For my part personally I cannot think of a single reason why we would want to leave the EU, not one. Some have said that the remain case lacks passion, but I disagree, I feel extremely passionately that the EU has produced a net benefit for the UK and rather than look at negatives I'm going to try and put the positive case.
Peace and Stability
We have enjoyed 70 years of stability in Europe without internal wars and, barring the global recession, pretty much uninterrupted economic growth. We are very much stronger together as part of a large single market. We can compete with any other market in the world together and we can take action against aggression if we need to.
Our membership of the EU is also one of the reasons why the United Kingdom is still united. And since this is a positive Blog I won't even consider what might happen in Ireland if we have to re-instate border controls between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. If you don't know what I'm talking about you need to research the Good Friday Agreement more.
We are something like the 5th biggest economy in the world and this is whilst we are in the EU. When we first joined the Common Market our economy was in the doldrums and it was British workers who had to travel to Europe to find work, don't believe me? Just watch a few episodes of Auf Wiedersehen Pet and you'll see what I mean. It could be that way again in the future (especially if we do leave and our economy shrinks) but if we remain in I cannot see that happening any time soon. We should also support EU efforts in helping the Eurozone recover as once it does that will go a long way to re-routing the economic migrants from poorer parts of Europe to these areas and perhaps reduce the number coming here. I know this is something that bugs some people.
Btw, if you are concerned about the future of the NHS you should remember this: the NHS costs a lot of money, a strong economy is vital for the NHS to survive. If we leave the likelihood is that the economy will shrink, this will mean less money for everything, so the choice is service cuts or tax rises - take your pick.
Also, just so you know, China don't really care about whether they trade with us or not. But they do care about EU single market, and that includes us.
My brain works differently from other people's I know. To my mind the EU is more democratic than the UK. EU members of parliament are elected by proportional representation and the cabinet is made up of the leaders of the member countries, including our PM. Apparently most people don't know the name of the EU representative, so what? In most cities people don't even know the names of the people who live next door. One of mine is Nigel Farage, there you've heard of him haven't you!
By contrast our first legislative house - The Commons - is elected by first past the post, a system that favours the incumbent government since they can set the ward boundaries to benefit themselves. This means currently we are likely to have either a Conservative government or a coalition for the foreseeable future.
For the record our second legislative chamber - The Lords - is, erm, ENTIRELY UNELECTED!
Home of democracy us, oh yeah.
A Level Playing Field
Did you know that marine creatures don't recognise country borders? They really don't. This is why having level playing fields and centralised control over things like fishing quotas is vital. If any one country over-fishes (is that a phrase?) then the fish go and we have no fishing industry anywhere. Oh and for the record it's up to our UK government to decide how our fishing quotas are divided up amongst our own fishermen.
The single market is something that doesn't really turn people on unless they are economists, but it's vital to ensure that one country isn't favouring their own pet industries or services over those of a neighbour. As things stand though an industry in France has to abide by the same rules as us and Poland and Germany and Italy and so on. This is a good thing.
Another point is that there is currently one body that approves medicines across the whole of the EU - this can give us confidence that should we need medical treatment whilst abroad we are getting the same quality of medicines that we expect here. Oh, and naturally we have reciprocal arrangements for healthcare across the EU, so we can also be confident of being treated equally wherever we might get ill or have an accident.
Why not also consider food labelling (including E numbers - go on guess what the E stands for), energy efficiency ratings , subsidies for our farmers and grants for the poorer parts of the UK and the arts? I know I have.
Recently I drove with Charlie to do a gig in Germany. We got in our car and drove there and showed our passport just once on the way out and once on the way back. Being a citizen of the EU is a really cool thing that we shouldn't chuck away willy-nilly... there are chances for our kids and their kids to work, holiday, move, fall in love and marry with others from all over the EU (and I know plenty of people personally that have done all that, and I've done a few myself). Hopefully this thought is a bit more exciting than the economic reasons to stay in, right? Hell even my MEP Mr. Farage married a German, so they can't all be bad?
A united Europe is also a bastion against the far right. It's no co-incidence that ALL far right parties (including some from outside Europe that have no business getting involved) want us to split from the EU.
I refuse to be afraid of poorer people in Europe, I refuse to brand them all as rapists or terrorists. The Polish neighbours we used to live next to in Croydon were amongst the most lovely people I ever met. They would have put themselves out to look after us, and did on a couple of occasions. They even put up with us practicing our music in the house and told us they enjoyed listening to it! Nutty europeans!
Migration has been good for this country in many ways and, indeed, all of us are descended from migrants. There is also pretty good evidence that they work harder and claim less benefits than their UK equivalents - I can believe that. We need their taxes to support, amongst many things, the blessed NHS and our pension funds.
There are some that say the EU needs reform and they are probably right. There are some that say immigration levels need to be controlled and, perhaps, they are right too. There are many that say there are pressures on the NHS, and they are also right, but leaving the EU will not help us with any of these issues.
Once we are out, we will be out. We will no longer need to remember the name of our MEP, we won't have one. We won't have a say, we won't have a veto and we won't have all the benefits I've outlined above.
If we end up like Norway or Switzerland then chances are that for our businesses to get access to the single market we will need to a) pay a fee and b) allow freedom of movement. WITHOUT ANY SAY OVER HOW THIS IS RUN!
You know what, I'm not going to get negative on this. I love my country and I love that we are a powerful player in the EU and because of this in the world.
I love what we have right now, I want it for my kids too.
So I'm in!
PS If you would like further reading then please check out my previous post and here is a guide to voting written by Martin Lewis that is also worth a read.