Springingtiger's Blog


Europe, Bloody Europe!
February 26, 2016, 12:09
Filed under: disability, Justice, Parenting, Politics, Scotland, Travel, Yes Scotland | Tags: , , , , ,

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Just when we should be settling into our Scottish Parliament elections and the other devolved assemblies into theirs the whole process is suddenly overshadowed by the English EU Referendum. Yes I know it’s technically a UK referendum, but the rest of the UK was reasonably content with the EU. We actually liked the way the European Courts overturned the actions of the Westminster Government. I suppose we probably had reservations about some degree of lost sovereignty, but Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are used to being ruled by a foreign parliament so it is less of an issue for us, indeed many are pleased to see some curtailment of Westminster’s ability to pass laws regardless of the wishes of other countries in the UK.

It is mildly amusing to see the same arguments put forward for staying in Europe as were put forward for Scotland remaining in the UK and the same arguments put forward for leaving as the Campaigners for Independence used. It’s less amusing to see those who argued for Scotland to remain in the UK now arguing for the UK to leave the EU. One of the reasons that it is less amusing is that we were promised that if we remained in the UK our continued membership of the EU was guaranteed, indeed there are many who would argue that our membership of the UK is conditional on the UK’s membership of the EU.

I suspect that by June our heads will be spinning and we will be sick to the stomach of arguments and counter arguments. Even where figures are available there is no agreed interpretation of them and as for what the effect of leaving the EU we have only speculation.

It is reasonable to assume that a vote to remain will lead to more of the same. However that is not certain, as we saw after the Independence referendum a determination by English MPs to undermine the wishes of the Scottish electorate at every turn even to the extent of refusing to accept amendments by Scottish MPs to the Scotland Bill to be debated, sadly it seems to be the habit of political parties to play ‘tit-for-tat’. It is possible, as I’m sure the Vote Leave Campaign will tell us, that our European partners may seek to punish the UK for being uppity in the same way should we remain. Is it likely? None of us knows for sure. Yes there are a myriad ways the EU could inconvenience the UK, but whether they would no one can predict with any certainty.

In the same way it is impossible to predict what will happen should we leave. We can speculate that a Westminster Tory Government, unfettered by the EU, would rapidly undo the EU legislation they feel hampers UK business like The Working Time Directive. Whether they could manage it is by no means certain. Would the EU penalise British trade? It’s very possible, but no one knows. I like to think that the EU would be magnanimous towards us, but would they?

What is obvious is that both sides are running campaigns based on fear of the future. The reason the Yes Campaign came so close to success in 2014 is that it presented a vision of hope for the future that almost overcame the desire to remain with what was familiar. So far neither side in the EU Referendum has presented us with any hopeful or even coherent vision of the future. The whole thing is a mess. We have Business both for and against. Trades Unions both for and against. Labour seems to be largely for but there are those against, however this probably as much about attacking Corbyn as principle. The Tories are just hopelessly divided.

I think what we can say for certain is that whatever way we vote, things will not be the same afterwards. England will still be England, but whether the UK will remain is open to question. The countries of the UK will still be here. We will all be here, whether better off or worse we cannot know, but such is life. The future is uncertain, however we settle the EU debate a global recession could hit us tomorrow and all this would seem a little futile. All the arguments we see from both sides appeal to cowardice and narrow self-interest, what I would like to see is a victory for a campaign whose vision for a better future will carry us through whatever difficulties and hardships we face post referendum. I hope we will not be left after all this feeling deflated, with nothing of value to show for it, seething with resentment. I want to be inspired to vote, with a sense that I am contributing to something noble and exciting.

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