The EU debate – worst of two worlds?

UnlikeEU - inorout,I suspect, many others, I will be voting in the EU referendum. Moreover, I have a predisposition to vote to stay in based as much on my own biases and prejudices as any hard data. Therein lies the biggest challenge that some of us face. I would like to be able to decide on a rational basis, upon indisputable facts about the various issues at play in what could be a defining decision on the future of our nation. But it’s a political arena and it’s hard to know what’s fact and what’s propaganda. It’s increasingly irritating that the debate (I would rather it was dialogue) is revolving around competing fears of what will happen if we stay/leave.

It is, of course, all speculation for nobody can actually know the consequences of the decision – especially when the consequences rest in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats of dozens of other countries around the world, to say nothing of the multinationals and bankers.

Where to go for this elusive ‘objective truth’? Well, accepting that there is no such thing leaves a hole which can only be filled with whatever sources are available. Newspapers? Each has their own agenda. Broadcast media? Some certainly seem to have an agenda, but what about the good old BBC which is required to be balanced? Well balance seems to consist of allowing equal airtime for opposing views and an attempt to provide independent analysis, but to me they are primarily a vehicle for lobbyists to air their views and I’m getting less and less interested in hearing what Dave or Boris want to tell me, especially when the tone of the debate gets more and more aerated.

So perhaps we can turn to that treasure trove of knowledge the internet? Same story here, what is ‘truth’ and what is propaganda? What about friends – either the real ones or those who simply carry that label on Facebook? Well one who meets both of those descriptions, and whose intellect I have long been impressed with, started posting some apparently objective analysis. But how do I decide it is objective? Academic references and seemingly independent research institutions and think-tanks are subsequently picked apart by others. How do I know they are independent? I don’t, they just somehow seem to be unconnected with the usual sources, but I know no more about their funders that the next man.

I guess where I am going is that, apart from the philosophical position, there is no ‘objective truth. All that exists is a series of more or less biased positions and/or data promoted by individuals some of whom clearly have personal agendas.

How then, do I decide which way to vote? Some (Boris’ camp?) seem to believe that we (the country, or perhaps big business) would be better off freed from the strictures of the EU bureaucracy who they suggest inhibit our ability to make our own decisions about how to live or whether it is OK to sell undersized bananas. One might argue (I do) that they believe in the power of free markets. Others (Cameron?) might want out because they recognise the looming United States of Europe and want to continue believing in a Great Britain that died with the Empire a generation ago. It does seem to me that the long-term vision of the founders of the EU was either hidden from the country when we first voted ‘In’ or our politicians missed it at the time.

Where are the ‘big beasts’ speaking on behalf of the concept of a united Europe? One that is not a United States but which shares enough values and beliefs to keep us from attacking each other for another 50 years; one that values solidarity and communality; one that enables free trade across one of the biggest trading blocks in the world; that facilitates free movement of people across borders that are but temporary artefacts created by politicians?

So in the end I guess I will vote based partly on my preference for the latter philosophy and partly on a belief that the uncertainty caused by exit will be more detrimental than the current dysfunction. For the system certainly needs change and maybe a narrow margin of stayers might give Dave et al a renewed mandate for tougher renegotiation of the way the institutions work.

Discuss. Please.

2 responses to “The EU debate – worst of two worlds?

  1. Paul Fisher

    Good discussion document Geoff. I have been telling people for ages that there are no facts in this debate, merely opinions. So I have to consider the history of political promises. This tells me I should not believe any of them as the reality of the situation after any election always precludes delivery of said promises even if in fact they were meant in the first place. I too never voted for the EU as a federal state and detect that more and more EU countries are starting to believe that is not what the majority want. I also believe that the Euro is a flawed concept implemented very badly and will eventually fail. So how do I vote? Well better the devil you know I think. As momentum grows within many member states for changes to the workings of the EU we are much better placed to be on the inside influencing than outside wondering what might have been. We are no longer an empire. We already punch well above our weight on the world stage and being isolated from the rest of Europe will diminish that influence. Finally all voters should consider that this is a vote for future generations more than the current ones. Don’t vote selfishly for what is good for me now, think what it will mean 50 years from now. I’m for staying in and work for more reform in the years to come.

  2. The problem I have with the EU debate is they seem to disagree about everything. In a normal political debate, the ‘sides’ can agree on some points but have some fundamental differences which can be debated. Whereas in the EU case it seems only the polar opposite opinions come out. One side puts up a view and the other feels the need to debunk it. As a voter I just can’t be doing with this kind of argument.

    So for me it is also personal opinion and bias that will sway my own voting choice. I am not a big risk taker in my personal life, and to me voting to leave seems to offer the biggest risk. Whilst the leave campaign will say “we can negotiate a new deal” on just about everything, they cannot possibly know that and staying in seems to offer the best compromise.

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