I have come to realize of late that my taking an interest in the EU Referendum debate is something shared by many of my friends, who share their views yet are split, possibly 50-50, whether to vote to remain or to leave. For most of my life, I have been a euroskeptic. My inclination has long been this is not an institution I would particularly wish to join if for no other reason than that in the main it does not share many of those values I hold dear. However, the big question facing us now we are in and in a position to negotiate a better deal, is would we (UK) be better or worse off if we were to leave? I still have my doubts and am therefore undecided.
It has seemed that the debate has been going on for ages, which as far as I can make out has often been lacking substance and generating more heat than light, even though we were told that last week saw the beginning of the EU referendum campaign, with remain and leave camps bracing themselves for the set-to to come. This is the fourth of my “EU Referendum” series with at least one more intended. From among the great and good, many have given their views, whether to remain or leave, with big guns on either side. Thanks to wide media coverage, I have heard many of them do so. For example there is the great cricketing legend, Ian Botham, wanting us to leave (see here) and US President Obama, wanting us to stay (see here), and one listens and weighs their arguments.
I have been mindful that on one hand there are the xenophobia tendencies of some of the electorate wanting us to leave and the concerns about a possible erosion of human rights if we were to leave, by those arguing for us to stay. To some extent, I have to note those arguments but not necessarily agree with them. Regarding xenophobia, while I feel we take in too many foreigners seeking economic betterment whose net contribution to British life is debatable, we don’t take in nearly enough genuine sanctuary seekers, which is a significant sized group. As for human rights, this surely is something as a country we should be supporting simply because it is right to do so and not because the EU says so.
Last week, I registered my disdain for the government propaganda that came through my door in the form of a booklet, laying out all the bad things that will happen to the UK if we were to leave. Today, I wake up to the headline: “George Osborne defends Treasury’s gloomy EU exit forecast”. There seems to be a government agenda to bamboozle the electorate into voting remain, which may well backfire. Both of these items present an unbalanced picture, which needs to balanced with valid counter arguments, and is, whereby we the electorate can make intelligent decisions.
The regrettable thing to note, which is symptomatic of our democratic system, is spin and polarization is the order of the day rather than truth based on facts and balance based on evaluating the various arguments. While I am not too optimistic things will get markedly better, I am hopeful. One website pointed out to me today starts off: “The EU referendum – Full Fact is fact checking the EU referendum” provides some basis of hope. But in the meantime I listen, weigh, read and learn before coming to a view, hopefully as a result of carefully weighing the pertinent facts.