Saturday 28 May 2016

The EU Referendum Campaign Debate is Dismal

As we enter the final four weeks of the European Union (EU) referendum campaign, the public must be in despair at the ridiculous arguments espoused by both sides of the debate. Hardly a day passes without one of the camps claiming that the sky will fall in if we leave or remain in the EU.

The Leave camp put out the untruth that we spend £350 million a week to be in the EU, and that this money could be spent on the NHS, i.e. one new hospital a week, blah blah blah. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) criticised the amount quoted, saying it did not take into account the rebate the UK gets from the EU. 

The net figure for our contribution to the EU is £110 million per week. On top of that, do they expect us to believe that the likes of Nigel Farage, Iain Duncan Smith and Boris Johnson would spend this money on the NHS? Fat chance, they are more likely to make cuts to tax for their wealthy chums. And then there are tales of being overrun by migrants from Turkey and elsewhere in the poorer parts of Europe. Turkey isn’t even in the EU.

The Remain camp, serves up all manner of establishment backing, including the IMF and assorted world leaders to tell us that Brexit would cause a major world recession and the UK would be in poverty, again with spurious financial forecasts. It is fair enough to point out the economic uncertainties of Brexit, but to paint as bleak a picture as this as fact, is dishonest.

Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish National Party (SNP) leader, was quite right last week when she criticised the Remain campaign for too much negativity and outrageously catastrophic economic forecasts. She said it was turning the voters off. Of course, she has the experience of the 2014 Scottish Independence referendum, where these same tactics were used. It was ultimately successful, so Sturgeon should not be surprised.   

Today, with all of the fanfare of the cavalry charging over the hill to save the debate, the Remain side was joined by the Another Europe is Possible campaign group. Launched in London with a rally at Logan Hall, the publicity says:

The biggest rally of the In campaign, hosted by Another Europe is Possible, DiEM25 and OpenDemocracy, is coming up this Saturday.

The rally was addressed by Yanis Varoufakis, DiEM25, Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP, Owen Jones, author and activist, Clive Lewis, shadow climate minister, Anthony Barnett, OpenDemocracy, Sirio Canós Donnay, Podemos and Neal Lawson, Compass.

I’ve already written on this blog that I intend unenthusiastically to vote to stay in the EU, but I really don’t buy this idea that the EU can be refashioned into some kind of socialist Utopia. 

Yanis Varoufakis writes in an opinion piece in The Guardian “The two campaigns are infantilising voters in a rather cynical and astonishing fashion. We on the other hand rely on investing in reasoned debate.”

He has previously said that Brexit would lead to a 1930s style recession in Europe, so I think we can take what he says with a pinch of salt. 

I met up with a couple of ecosocialist comdrades from the French Parti de Gauche in London a couple of months back. Interestingly, they didn’t have much time for Varoufakis generally and were very sceptical of his DiEM25 movement. They agreed with me that the EU would never be what Varoufakis proposes, and thought he was just capitalising on his new found fame, and unemployment. They also wanted France to leave the Euro, although stay in the EU, and thought Varoufakis should have taken Greece out of the Euro when he had the chance.

So there you have it, and four more weeks of it too.

Luckily the public are not fooled by all of this nonsense from both sides of the debate. Whilst having a hair cut the other day, I discussed the EU referendum with my barber. He said he has weighed it up, and concludes that no one knows what will happen if we leave the EU, it could be good or bad, but on balance he will probably vote to stay.

I think a lot of people will take a pragmatic view at this referendum, there are not many super Europhiles, but I think we will end up voting to remain.


  1. Shame we couldn't have had on the ballot paper NONE OF THE ABOVE

  2. Where does the environment and climate change come into the arguments? Shouldn't the future prospects of our children and grand-children be a dominant consideration in this debate - and why isn't the Green Party asserting this with total conviction with the added force that 'business as usual', whether practiced inside Europe or outside will collapse under the weight of its own in-built contradictions?

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