I remember waking up to the news that the Tories had soundly beaten Labour in the general election by a considerable majority and feeling totally resigned to it all. I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t upset. Just resigned. Because really, David Cameron as Prime Minister again was really quite easy to accept. Ed Miliband, for all his charm and (almost weird) social media support, particularly amongst young voters, was not a strong enough candidate for Prime Minister.
The biggest thing I took away from the election and the seemingly endless campaigning was exactly how much the EU Referendum came up. For me, Cameron was using this to win another 5 years at 10 Downing Street. I remember thinking this time and time again, each time I heard or read anything about the election – this man’s ace card is the Referendum.
Then he won.
Then he went to Brussels. And totally flopped it. His renegotiated deal was deemed pathetic, though to me that was harsh. It was just a bit weak. It was a classic example of someone overselling and underdelivering. It happens all the time in any job. I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t anything. It sort of made me laugh in a way. Why was everyone so shocked anyway? Do our politicians really think we are the only country in the EU or what? We are hardly American (or German for that matter) level power in the grand scheme of things. Just calm down.
Now fast-forward to June 2016. We are a little over a week away from the country’s biggest vote – to stay in or out of the EU. I think it is fair to say that the country hasn’t taken much notice of it until last week when the EU Debate aired on TV and news channels began to report on just how close the Vote Leave and Vote to Stay camps are. The website to register to vote actually crashed on the evening of the deadline and it had to be extended. So it’s alarming therefore, considering we are so close to polling day, that it is still not very clear from either camp what the impact would be if the country votes to stay or to leave.
The stay camp have been a little presumptuous up until recently. I think they largely assumed that people would simply vote to stay (or not vote at all). A sort of ‘better the devil you know’ attitude. Since things haven’t quite gone this way David Cameron has been accused of employing scaremongering tactics by bringing up the very real threat to state pensions and destroying our economy, for example, should we vote to leave. Vote stay have warned that we could be plunged into years of recession, the countries trade would suffer, maternity and paternity rights would be at huge risk and part-time workers would lose insurmountable rights. There is even a very real suggestion that voting to leave will almost certainly trigger a new Scottish Referendum. The last one was close. Too close. And with Nicola Sturgeon’s incredible popularity within the SNP, Scotland would almost certainly mean that Scotland would leave the UK and become independent. What then? Who knows?
This all sounds very scary to me. But then, what has our current government done to make any of us voters confident in them? What have they done but repeatedly lie and deceive us all to make us believe that it is better to leave things as they are right now? Why should we believe them now? David Cameron can’t tell us what would be different if we believed in him one last time and voted to stay. It’s almost like having a husband/wife/partner who has repeatedly cheated on you. You’ve forgiven them each time, believed them when they have said it wouldn’t happen again and you can trust them. Why should you believe them after the third, fourth, fifth time? What are they saying now that is different to every other time? Vote stay haven’t told me anything about what would be great, what would be beneficial for voters if we voted to stay. David Cameron has issued a rallying cry for young voters to vote next week. If they want so many young people to vote why not educate them? Don’t scare them. Teach them. Young people are relatively new into politics. It’s so complicated and overwhelming sometimes for everyone for that matter. Why not use this opportunity to teach us all? Stop with the dramatics and just talk openly and frankly for goodness sake.
The vote leave camp, with names such as Boris Johnson and Priti Patel amongst others within it, have no power to make any government spending promises but have still been doing so. They want to assure voters that voting to leave would benefit the NHS (though I’m not inclined to believe them personally) and would reduce VAT on fuel. Sure. Except they could easily renege on this. Just like David Cameron did on so many things after he was reelected Prime Minister. I really don’t think they have any idea of what could happen to the country should we leave, which is in itself alarming. If I went into work and talked out of my backside without giving a clear answer as to what I was doing, saying, thinking and accused someone else of being an idiot without actually saying they were an idiot, then carried on making sweeping statements and promises without any information or justification, I would be fired. I would be Donald Trump. And none of this even comes close to the appalling and stupid way they used the terrible events in Orlando, Florida this past weekend to promote their political agenda (see my last post on what I think about using politics in the face of tragedy). And whilst we are on the subject of extremism, we have enough homegrown, British idiots who are being radicalised here. That’s a problem here. Stop pointing the finger at migrants. It’s not always those coming in from the outside that are a threat to us. Get that through your heads fast. Are they modelling their campaign on Donald Trump’s or what?
And whilst we’re on the subject of immigration. Priti Patel, who arrived in this country as an immigrant and took hold of every single opportunity and ran with them should be one of our greatest role models. Her work ethic has gotten her to where she is and should be admired. She should be an example to all children of immigrants in this country and amongst the British Asian community especially.. But then there comes her stance on immigration.
Of course. Of course, we need better border controls. Our services are stretched very thinly. There are not enough school places for children, the NHS is stretched to the bone etc. I agree we need better controls. But the answer isn’t to leave the EU. The answer is for our government to get off their backsides and do something effective that works for everyone. That is their job. They could work with the EU on this. Not against them. Also, fyi Priti, there are so very many British people who are on benefits, who have child after child after child just so they don’t have to work. More should be done to make them get off their bums and go to work so they can feed their own children so that through their taxes they can actually fund school places and healthcare for themselves and their own children. I don’t particularly enjoy being taxed ‘x’ amount of money every single month, that really I could do with to actually live, just so some other British person – who is perfectly capable of working – can not go to work. So no, it’s not just foreigners. Immigration is not the only problem so stop using it as a stick to beat us all over the head with so we can all be afraid of those scary immigrants coming to take us hardworking Brits for all that we have. Because you know what? Not all of them work. And not all of them actually pay their sodding taxes. So how about we address this too? This woman is basically a less extreme version of Donald Trump, except only slightly less annoying.
But all of this really does leave us in the same place we all were 2 weeks, even 2 months ago. Absolutely confused. Vote Leave and Vote Stay have done nothing but attempt to scare people. It’s either ‘you’re going to lose everything you’ve worked hard for’ or it’s ‘how many immigrants do you want to come into this country, steal all of your money and then kill us all?’ There is nothing in between. There is no coherent and comprehensive argument for voters from either side. And the fact that polls suggest voters are most likely to vote to leave is so alarming it makes me a little sick. I’m not saying voters are wrong to want to vote to leave. I’m saying that it’s worrying to me that there are so many wanting to vote to leave without being truly informed as to what the consequences might be. It’s not just about immigration. No, extremism isn’t the only justification. There are tremendous economical and legal consequences we really know nothing about.
Our government should be profoundly ashamed of themselves for their poor handling of both the Leave and Stay campaigns. The country is about to vote on a serious issue next week and all they have done is scare and bully the nation. They have treated the entire Referendum with zero respect, no dignity and even less information.
This isn’t British. This isn’t even human.
One thing is for sure. Whether we vote to stay or to leave, we will all have to wait and see if we end up living the consequences of such an odious group of politicians who think only of their own agenda and not the people of this country.