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20160526 Brexit: the young should register to vote - but they should vote "Leave"
20160526 Brexit: the young should register to vote - but they should vote "Leave"
And when they do, they should vote to leave the EU. This is why. And as someone who supported the "yes" vote in 1975, I start with a mea culpa.
In 1975, I was the young that David Cameron now courts. It is ironic, one might consider, that, usually, conservatives are not anxious for the young to vote because the young have a tendency to be idealistic and to prefer a broadly socialist agenda. That's why socialist parties are always arguing for the voting age to be reduced and why it has been reduced, in recent weeks, in Scotland. The more world weary, the more educated, the more experienced, the more successful in their careers tend to be more centrist or even conservative.
In 1975, the UK was already a member of "the Common Market." The then Conservative government, led by Ted Heath, held a referendum to decide if we remained in or if we left. The government's position was to stay and it was to stay for simple economic and commercial reasons: we were sold a "common market," not a political union under which states became subject to homogenised laws and national identity and freedoms were compromised. We certainly were not told that our future would be decided by a committee of unelected Eurocrats who, to be simplistic, draft laws, put them before a largely impotent parliament and then require nation states to accept, implement and enforce them without question. And yet, in essence, that is what happens. And if nation states refuse, or do not enforce, the EU applies sanctions.
In 1975, reading the material we were provided with, we had only two primary arguments in favour of membership. First, the commercial benefits of a large market where common standards would ensure that goods meeting those standards could be freely traded across the entire region. Secondly, the disadvantages to the UK working class because its products would be priced out of the market by deliveries of products made elsewhere in Europe by cheaper labour.
We should have seen the warning signs of how authoritarian the EU would become when trade barriers were erected to disadvantage the British purchase of New Zealand Lamb in favour of EU produced meat. But we did not. We believed what we were told.
We were not told of the political aspects of the Treaty of Rome. We were not told that the European Project was to form a European Superstate: we would almost certainly have rejected that - did we really want to put our future in the hands of Germany, France, Spain and Italy? Of course we did not. We were not told that the plan called for the ever-increasing absorption of poor, politically unstable states, and in particular not those who were (at the time) still members of or closely associated with the USSR.
We were not told that there would be plans for a European Armed Forces initiative to which our own Army, Navy and Airforce would be subjugated.
We were told that there were plans for a common currency, but we were not told that this would mean the emasculation of our Her Majesty's Treasury. Later, when the scheme became clearer, the UK wisely (as it later turned out) decided not to join although the decision did not look so clever when it was made.
We were not told that huge areas of our lives would become subject to European overview and control.
In the light of the simple and woefully incomplete information we were given, I supported the campaign, I went "on the knocker," delivering leaflets, sitting in the living rooms of people selling them the propaganda I had been given.
For that, I am sorry. I am sorry I did not, as a young person, dig further into the information I was being given and verify it to find the truth. I am sorry I did not deliver that truth on the doorstep and over cups of tea. I am sorry that I did not know about and therefore could not take steps to argue against the ruling of the UK by a committee of grey Eurocrats in a room in Brussels.
I'm sorry that I did not find out that a Europe without borders would mean that everyone's personal security is compromised, that organised crime, a domestic problem that was, generally, relatively gentlemanly and with defined rules and targets, would be taken over by Baltic gangs with no morals or boundaries and with little or no respect for the lives and livelihoods of those around them. London's gangs were brutal but they tended to function in their own "underworld" not within the world the rest of us inhabit. I'm sorry that I did not find out that criminals with non-UK origin cannot be regarded as "foreign" and deported because now they hold European Passports and because European Courts tell us who we can and cannot allow to remain in our own country.
I'm sorry that I did not learn that we would see our farmers putting shotguns into their mouths because funding that could have helped their businesses survive was side-lined for the EU's Common Agricultural Policy. I'm sorry that I did not learn that the fishing fleets that fed the families of dozens of ports around the UK would be more than decimated under the Common Fisheries Policy that leads to "foreign" ships in British territorial waters while our own fishermen are required to dump edible fish including some that would, if landed, command a premium price, over the side due to quotas imposed by those same Eurocrats.
I'm sorry that I did not learn that the Germans would make domestic policy and then demand that other EU members adopt it, under the guise of "taking their fare share" as has happened in relation to illegal migration from the Middle East.
I'm sorry that I did not find out that, when a UK industry or even a substantial company gets into trouble, or if funding a project would have strategic benefits, the EU would be able to say "you can't support that unless we say so." I'm sorry that I didn't find out, and tell people, that the EU would be able to compel UK governments to award contracts to non-UK companies so preventing the effective support of e.g. the UK motor industry, which is bizarre given that, in France and Germany, almost all government cars are manufactured in those countries: when did you last see a French police car made in the UK? Insanely, it's easier to prefer bidders from outside the EU than to prefer bidders from within the UK. How is that in our national interest?
If the EU had remained as the Common Market we were told it was, it would have been great. A Common Market is an excellent idea. Common standards for products is an excellent idea. A common currency is a great idea - but it should be a parallel currency. States should remain in control of their own economies.
Political union is a wonderful idea, on paper. Then again, so are Marxism, Maoism and a raft of other -isms. In the real world, they don't work, they cause immense harm to many millions for the benefit of very few.
But the UK should have realised that it had the opportunity to create its own common market, one which spanned the globe, one which, internally, is entirely self-sufficient and where skills transfer can do more good than wealth transfer. The UK should leave the EU. It should cherry pick those parts it wants to interact with and leave the rest.
The UK should continue as a member of Europol and pay an appropriate share. It should remain part of the EU Arrest Warrant scheme and the extradition schemes. Britons should be citizens of The UK, not citizens of Europe. What's wrong with us needing visas and permission to work in other EU countries? After all, the failure to properly handle international VAT militates against the free movement of enterprise, even while the free movement of labour is actively promoted.
We should properly reactivate the British Commonwealth: turn it into a global economic powerhouse and stop this nonsense about integrated political union across Europe or elsewhere.
The scare stories about how UK trade will suffer are entirely unproven. The stories as to how UK security will suffer are, fascinatingly, opposed by the people who really know - the chiefs of the armed forces and the security services.
Yes, the young should vote. But they should not make the same mistake I made when I was young.
And if the young are still wavering or if they tend to adopt the "Stay" arguments, then I suggest you speak to those who remember Britain before. Was it better, was it worse, did you feel safer in or out of Europe?
David Cameron says that Britain will be better off within an improved EU. But the UK is demonstrably unable to compel that improvement. We don't even know what improvement he is talking about. He wants the young to accept his rhetoric, to accept the pig-in-a-poke. He has produced zero evidence to support a remain vote, only playing to fears.
All the economic forecasts showing doom and gloom for the EU do not take into account the savings in administration costs, the costs of funding the European Parliament and its members.
We are being fed, as we were in 1975, a false and incomplete picture.
Yes, the young should vote. But they should vote for an independent and strong UK, not an ever-weaker member of a broad-left coalition which is what the EU tends to be.
European governments tend to be left-leaning. The UK and often Ireland are, generally, the only stand-outs against the development of a socialist superstate. That, of itself, should be enough for the "Leave" vote to win.
Ireland has been prevented from following its own path on taxation, to become a broad-base, low tax economy. Why? Socialist Europeans don't like the idea that commerce will be attracted to a low tax economy within Europe. They can spin it however they like but that's the truth of it.
Yes, the young should vote. They should make fully informed decisions, not those based on short booklets, pamphlets and sound-bites in replies to scripted questions.
There is only one vote to save the UK and your future from an experiment that has failed. The EU is a failed state and like most failed states it has become ever more autocratic and ever more dogmatic. It has become ever more determined to exercise control over the lives of those who might challenge it. Boris Johnson's Hitler reference might have been excessive but it was not entirely wrong: the EU's only solution to its existing failures is more of the same, but bigger, stronger and louder.
Don't make the same mistake I did.