It’s just under a month til the UK has a referendum to decide whether we stay or leave the EU, and as a campaign it’s been the most dismal, depressing bag of shite I’ve heard in some time and that’s saying something. Last night’s debate on the BBC had signs that the non Tory voices in the Remain camp should be heard more of, but the Brexit campaign still leaves itself struggling to emerge from at best, a British nationalism that’s also rooted in imperialism. That could end up being their undoing as it’s 2016. Many of us don’t think in those terms.
I’m a sceptical Remain voter. There’s massive issues with the EU but at the same time, there’s benefits to the EU, plus in a 21st century globalised society the idea that the UK (or whatever’s left of it, but I’ll get to that) could return to an almost imperial power is insane. During the Scottish Independence Referendum I did what I could from afar to join in and hoped for a Yes vote, not to mention the informed, intellectual debate from all walks of life, not just the middle class voices we always hear, was fantastic. The legacy of that still remains to be seen but it’s left a vibrant democratic discussion in Scotland.
The same isn’t and won’t be the case of the EU Referendum. Throw a stone into Twitter and you’ll hit a Brexiter being scarily mental.
So some points:
- If the Brexit campaign had any sense they’d have united to present a detailed, fact-based manifesto of how the UK would be after a Brexit along the lines of the SNP’s White Paper they produced during the Independence Referendum, or the Greens plans they produced, or indeed any of the dozens of proposals from people and groups. Instead we’ve got Boris Johnson talking about Hitler and bananas.
- Once Hitler is dragged into a debate it’s rendered entirely worthless unless you’re talking of the history or WW2 or who neo-Nazis worship. If you’re repeating decades old bullshit about the EU and bananas you’ve hit the bottom and you struggle to retain credibility with the undecided who are more interested in how roaming charges will be affected, or their ability to go on holiday to Spain or France, or what rights to holiday will remain after a Brexit.
- Replacing thought out debate with lines like ‘WE WANT OUR COUNTRY BACK’ isn’t going to win over the undecided either because that line drips with racism. Especially when the likes of Nigel Farage constantly used it in relation to making it clear that for him and a number of Brexiters this is all about immigration and getting the ‘right type’ of people that have a ‘shared culture’. Well, that’s dogwhistle racist bullshit if ever I’ve heard it and again, drips with a 19th century/early 20th century British imperialism that doesn’t belong in 2016.
- The Tory Remain campaign isn’t much better seeing as it’s essentially using the exact same tactics as Better Together did in the Indyref. Scaring pensioners isn’t a positive tactic whoever does it and there is a positive argument to remain in the EU, yet the Tories that want to stay barely mention in instead talking in the same sort of hyperbolic tone as most of the Brexiters.
- This really is the last roll of the dice for those that think Britain as a concept means something. Fact is, it doesn’t. If you’re campaigning to get the UK (and the UK and Britain are different things in this debate) out of the EU because of reasons of sovereignty and self-determination and you support things like the House of Lords or Westminster democracy then you’re a hypocrite. If you rail against ‘unelected EU officials’ then think the Lords is a great British institution your argument is void. I can elect MEP’s who elect these officials on my behalf. I may not like who they elect but it’s democratic. The Lords, and indeed much of the UK’s democracy isn’t and is two centuries out of date at least.
- Britain and the UK are being used to mean different things to different people, and when people say ‘Britain’ they’re generally using that to mean ‘England’ and even then, only parts of England. This so far is a very Anglocentric debate that’s excluded Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland from the bulk of debate and there’s probable good reason for that as Scotland and Northern Ireland will be voting fairly conclusively to remain. These are parts of the UK that benefit greatly from EU membership so they’d be mad to vote to leave and therefore give a Westminster government full control of spending which means it’ll be spent in the Tory heartlands, not remote parts of the UK to there where there’s no votes for Tories.
- Labour have been useless so far. Corbyn may as well have stood aside for this referendum because it’s obvious his heart isn’t fully in it even though he seems to have finally realised a Brexit means giving the Tories free range to do what they want to worker’s rights, human rights and everything. He’s an old socialist and they want out the EU too so he’s clearly been conflicted and it’s a bit depressing he’s taken so long to suss out the big threat here.
- No Tory cabinet minister can no longer quote things like the IFS. Regardless of the result they’re left themselves lacking in any sort of credibility as a government minister and that includes Boris Johnson who has exposed himself to more people as the crushingly inane fool he is.
- Lastly, a Brexit means the UK as we know it is probably over. A second independence referendum in Scotland will be triggered and there’s talk of Northern Ireland and Ireland holding a referendum for reunification. Wales and England could well be all that’s left with Wales becoming increasingly bitter over a settlement that will leave them without EU funding that’s helped parts of the country develop itself. Most Brexiters however couldn’t care less it seems as long as they get ‘their’ country back.
This isn’t like the Indyref. Nobody is being energised over what started and still is a Tory Party split. Few are indulging in informed, intelligent debate. It is frankly, a quagmire of bullshit and although there are signs of a better debate from some on the Remain side the Brexit campaign is the very worst of English/British ethnic nationalism and imperialism or just lunacy that makes Donald Trump’s campaign in the US seem sane and calm.
And there’s just under a month to go of this, but it’s important people do vote on the 23rd of June and they vote to stay because the EU for all it’s many, many flaws gives us a layer of protection against Westminster and in particular, the Tory Party with the psychopaths like Iain Duncan Smith who are part of that party. This may be a miserable campaign but this decides on the future of us all.