I’m going to voice an unpopular opinion here: many of us probably shouldn’t be voting in this referendum.
Yes, yes, “people died for our right to vote”, “if you don’t vote, you can’t complain when you don’t like the result”, etc. But having a right to vote means we also have a responsibility to know what we are voting for.
The truth is, we are voting about a hugely complicated event, with no crystal ball. There are big issues on the table: economics, immigration, security, sovereignty… Understanding them requires intelligence, and dedication to sourcing the least biased information available.
Whilst I’d love to believe that most people are putting in the time and effort needed to understand, I don’t think that’s the world I’m living in.
We aren’t voting on “do you hate foreigners?”
The reality I’m living in is called “Lincolnshire”. Its a rural county, filled with small towns that have seen a sea change due to Eastern European immigration. When I talk to people in Skegness, they are not presenting me with calculated, well-informed debate… “Well yes, Norway haven’t been allowed to negotiate free trade without free movement, but we bring a lot more to the table, so may able to hash out a different deal…”.
Now, I’m aware that many of my friends have made a decision based on very careful research, thought and reasoning. In which case, please do not be offended by my next statement.
That said, it is true to say that the vast majority of the arguments I’ve been hearing on the train; that are being posted on Facebook; that I see on the front pages of the tabloids; are, frankly, racist.
An opinion I’ve had voiced to me literally ten times in the last year: “I’m all for leaving Europe. You can’t hear even hear English on the street in Boston any more, them foreigners are taking over”.
My response has been simple:
“Firstly, many of ‘them foreigners’ are my friends.”
“Secondly, this is not what the debate is about. We aren’t voting on ‘do you hate foreigners?’. Leaving the EU is very unlikely to reduce our immigration levels. When you vote “Leave” thinking that’s what it gives you, you risk damaging the country you wish to protect!”
I’m voting Remain
I am voting Remain, because I think it makes more sense. In almost every area, the majority of our experts seem to think we are better off in Europe.
Politics: I think it says a lot that the leaders of the Labour party, Tory party, Lib Dems, Green Party and the SNP actually agree on this one. Five of Northern Ireland’s political parties have joined together on the issue. Think about that – when do those guys ever get round the same table?
Economics: I also think that there are some pretty intelligent people in the Treasury, the Financial Times, the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. They, along with 279 leading economists paint a brighter picture for the UK in Europe than outside it. Sure, 8 prominent economists wrote their own letter supporting Leave. But I’m good enough at economics to know that 279 vs 8 = a landslide consensus against Brexit.
Immigration: Norway isn’t in Europe. But to be allowed the trade advantages, they had to accept free movement. Ie. the same immigration situation that we are in. Norway’s President wrote to the UK and told us there is no gain from being in their situation. Leaving the EU is absolutely no guarantee that our immigration levels will reduce.
Sovereignty: the EU is a democratic body – what do you think MEPs are? Furthermore, the turnout for MEP elections is around the same as for local council elections (around 30%). Should be all be campaigning to leave our local council too?
I’m not writing this post to go into everything in detail: there’s plenty of links for that below.
Not sure? Educate yourself.
Here’s five options for you to learn more:
- FullFact.org are a politically neutral organisation, whose aim to check facts, with no agenda. Read their information on the EU referendum.
- Wanting something lighter? My friend Raj has written “A simple-ish summary of Vote Remain“.
- The Financial Times has written a brilliant article entitled “Brexit in seven charts: the economic impact“, which answers a lot of difficult questions in an easy to understand way.
- Visit Open Europe – an organisation that has declared itself officially neutral on the issue – for their analysis of what a post Brexit UK might look like. That said, its a fairly complex read.
- Another friend of mine, Gareth, has written a more detailed, but still very readable look at things – “Should we stay or should we go?“.
Still not sure? Don’t vote.
My wife’s grandfather has made the decision not to vote. He’s a firm believer in democracy, and feels that he hasn’t been able to fully enough understand the debate to be sure he’s doing the right thing.
I think his decision is honest, and honourable. If you aren’t sure why you checking that box, you risk hurting the UK. Be true to yourself, be true to our democracy, and don’t just blindly guess.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for being part of this great, free and democratic union!