Sunday, 12 June 2016

I wasn't going to blog about the referendum, but ...

I hadn't planned to write about the referendum. (I've no idea if readers outside the UK know what's going on here - if you're interested, please google it. The antecedents of this referendum are too tedious for a blog post).

The process of both parties remind me of the school playground. I'm right, no I'm right ... and what's more my brother is bigger than yours and that proves it ...

The analogy not so silly. When I was working I had to learn about the behaviour of small children: it is instinctive to attach to adults who look like you and be suspicious of those who look and sound different. It's an essential process in keeping children close to those who should keep them safe. But these are primitive feelings; as adults we can think about them and construct our ideas in the light of evidence.

And yet the 'leave' campaign is tapping into the childish feelings of millions. Let's blame immigrants, they tell us. Without them, we will have more homes, jobs, school places, beds in hospitals ... and they produce a mumbo-jumbo of promises they cannot fulfil with which to prove it.

Which means the 'in' campaign - which relies on people engaging on a more mature level - are finding it hard to remind us of the need to grow up and think about this as adults. They remind us of European history, that it is essential to have forum in which differences can be talked about and understood. They remind us of our geography: we are a small island and risk isolation if we leave the EU. They remind us of the economics: we stand to loose decades of goodwill within Europe, with all the trade advantages, and protection of workers' rights, that come with it.

No one suggests that the EU is perfect. It's like a large family, that straggles a bit and isn't too sure where it begins and ends, but will always keep the kettle on for anyone who needs a cup of tea and a chat. There is a commitment to talking about our differences and never resorting to fisticuffs.

And the alternative? At best, we would be foot-stamping in the corner, and no one willing to be the first to speak to us. At worst, the EU begins to fall apart and we return to the playground politics that were so destructive a hundred years ago.


  1. Absolutely, Jo. It is childish and shows the worst side of our politicians. It is 'playground politics' and pathetic. To think these people were 'elected' to serve our best interests is to believe the moon is made out of green cheese and there are line dancers on Pluto

  2. Ha, I've got almost the same blog post title, which I finally (after much hesitation) posted last night. On the same wavelength, most definitely. Nice to know there are some kindred souls.

  3. An excellent summary of why it will be such a tragedy if Britain walks away from Europe.


  4. Well said. What's been concerning me is that so many people are willing to vote for economic turbulence in order to feel they're "in control" - even though economic turbulence means that NOBODY is in control! I don't believe that the people of this country are stupid, so this situation must be telling us something important. I wonder what it is. Any thoughts?

    1. I think that millions of people have felt disenfranchised for decades - seeing the powerful look after their own with little concern for anyone else. They are now being told that they can 'take back control' - so here is a rare opportunity when their vote might count for something. The 'leave' campaign are exploiting this to the full, while the 'remains' don't get it - hence Osbourne threatening to take away everyone's pocket money if he doesn't get his own way. So I agree, people aren't stupid, but they are extremely disenchanted with mainstream politics - and these feelings are in the way of engaging in reasoned argument.

  5. Many thanks for the support. Good to know that, contrary to the huffing and puffing in the mainstream media, there are still some of us in the 'In' camp.

  6. Great post. And coming as it does on the back of Michael Gove's disastrous appearance on Question Time and Nigel Farage's racist poster I have no doubt now which I will vote.

    Greetings from London.