Getting Nippy

A few weeks is hardly enough time to debate the huge implications of the European Union, let alone explain how the whole bagatelle works. But there’s Britain, blundering into a potential exit with consequences nobody can truly know under the illusion that it will mean ‘regaining control’. A referendum shouldn’t be an expedient to get a party or a Prime Minister out of a tight spot and shouldn’t be scheduled for the high point of the social disillusion with government and an international refugee crisis we’re going through now – a kind of political total eclipse.

Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. Even the term Brexit has become the nom de guerre of the event and if anything embodies the ignorant and bellicose approach of much of Britain to the EU it is the bare-chested drunken thugs of the English football support. Away from the hushed corridors of Brussels there will be citizens in many member states quietly delighted to jettison the boorish Brits and their endless complaints, renegotiations and opt-outs.

We are now reaping what has been sown for 40 years by a political establishment which never consistently embraced the concept of a wider Europe beyond the idea of a massive Sunday market in which to flog our goods. Our politicians failed to agitate for an end to the mendacious and racist newspaper agenda which soured any and every attempt to inform the public. They played the game of othering Europe as if we weren’t actually part of it, allowed the idea to germinate that decisions we didn’t like were made by faceless foreigners when the UK had its own commissioners, senior civil servants, a permanent presence in the Council and 73 British MEPs.

Deflection is a tool of the political trade and is used by them all to divert attention from their own shortcomings. How convenient for a patriotic MP to blame the garlicky Europeans for everything from business bureaucracy to farming.

European statecraft always required an aspect of political insight lacking from too many of the British contingent who thought first of Little England, then Dead Empire followed by Friends Across the Atlantic and, finally, of the Continent. It may have changed now but MPs used to insist that MEPs had no automatic entry to the Westminster Parliament – they may be elected (by PR), they may even be of the same party but they won’t get in to our club.

We haven’t really had a debate at all, more a slanging match about the costs and the petty ways membership compromises national action. Without the moral underpinning the argument has descended into hysterical warnings that nobody believes and as a result the economic case has been buried as the Outers abandoned it in favour of the race agenda. And that in turn is essentially emotional as nearly everybody thinks there are many more immigrants coming in than there are in reality and believes they are here to scrounge. Yet the only incomers I see scrounging are a handful of street beggars (organised by East European gangs) who collect the cash. The thousands of immigrants from Europe are coming here because there is work for them. That’s work they’re happy to do while many locals are not.

It was revealing on the ITV debate that the Outers pedalled the idea that Brexit would stop immigration and give Britain control of its borders. If that is to be true it must also mean we have no access to the Single Market since freedom of movement is a bedrock of that market, as the grim-faced tormentor of Greece, Herr Schauble, pointed out this week.

Even if there is an initiative to relax this rule in the face of immigration concerns in other states, there will still be a requirement for open borders for those moving for work. Britain cannot do a deal with Brussels which avoids this reality. The £350m a week figure, already discredited, will be undermined even further when we take account of the cost of access to the Single Market (Norway pays 90 per cent of a full member’s fee). We will pay heavily. We will still have open borders from Europe and we will have no say whatsoever. Even in Cameron’s pathetic pretend renegotiation European incomers don’t qualify for in-work benefits for four years.

The Britain envisaged by the Outers of course has a deeper plan – Singapore Mark Two in which the UK becomes the offshore tax avoidance centre for Europe. Forget the Panama Papers…the right wing neo cons who will succeed the current crop of right wing neo cons will ditch the European rights we now enjoy in favour of severely restricted rights, especially at work, and draw in investment from those unconcerned with social conscience. Who, you may wonder will carry the can for this low tax, low rights regime? As ever, it will be the same disillusioned working men and women who vote to come Out.

Or am I scaremongering? It looks to me that the Tories have inched open Pandora’s Box and suddenly the lid has been flung out of their hands. There is no knowing where the fall-out from this vote will take us. I laughed to hear one of those ever-so smug voices on Any Questions (a woman from some financial website or other ) declaring unequivocally that Brexit will NOT lead to a second Scotland referendum.

This had the feel of someone desperately reassuring herself by making statements that don’t allow qualification. Part of the argument – which is true – is the fall in the oil price which has hit our economy and our confidence. But wait a moment, what if Brexit leads immediately, as the Bank of England and major institutions forecast, to a relative collapse in the British economy? The Pound fell this week when a poll put Out ahead. Suppose many of the warnings are actually realised and Brussels puts its price on market access and the Brexit voters see they’ve been duped…what if the relocation of banks and global employers becomes real and thousands of jobs are lost or transferred? Companies always use/abuse economic circumstance to their advantage so the oil price crash has been used partly to perform surgery on staff numbers and amid a general slow down all manner of cuts, justified or not, would be effected. In this case and with a leap to the Right in Downing Street, might not an independent Scotland – all the while receiving warm messages from Brussels – become a more appealing prospect? The process takes two years, lots of time for the cold reality to become real and for the ground to be prepared for pro-European Scotland. In truth, there is no telling. All the rest, including this, is conjecture.

These are interesting times but, frankly I think they are also dangerous times. Hold on to your hats.

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39 thoughts on “Getting Nippy

  1. Excellent article. Left me feeling angry and despondent at the prospect of Leave winning.

  2. “But there’s Britain, blundering into a potential exit with consequences nobody can truly know under the illusion that it will mean ‘regaining control’”

    You could equally argue that staying in is faced with its own uncertainties. After all, the EU has already had a balls up over Ukraine, the migrant crisis, and its disgusting treatment of Greece.

    “Away from the hushed corridors of Brussels there will be citizens in many member states quietly delighted to jettison the boorish Brits and their endless complaints, renegotiations and opt-outs.”

    And they’ll be an equal number wishing they could get their own referendum. The EU was designed by political elites, for political elites. It’s shocking how much contempt they have for the people. The more detached they are, the more disillusioned people feel, the more likely we are to see extremists fill the vacuum.

    “Our politicians failed to agitate for an end to the mendacious and racist newspaper agenda which soured any and every attempt to inform the public. ”

    It’s called a free press, and the public are not as daft as some people like to think they are. They know a racket when they see one.

    “The thousands of immigrants from Europe are coming here because there is work for them. That’s work they’re happy to do while many locals are not.”

    I can speak from personal experience on this one. I’ve done a lot of low paid jobs in my time, and running a house on that level of wages is not easy. And when you see and hear about 10 people sharing a house, and splitting bills 10 ways, it’s hard to compete with that. Especially as costs and bills rise and rise. I understand people’s resentment towards them, especially if British employers are slandering the work ethic of British workers, which they often do.

    “The Britain envisaged by the Outers of course has a deeper plan – Singapore Mark Two in which the UK becomes the offshore tax avoidance centre for Europe. Forget the Panama Papers…the right wing neo cons who will succeed the current crop of right wing neo cons will ditch the European rights we now enjoy in favour of severely restricted rights, especially at work, and draw in investment from those unconcerned with social conscience. ”

    This can only succeed if British voters let it succeed.

    I’m voting to leave, and I agree that leaving the EU is risky, but Scottish independence is risky, but I will, and always have, believed in it.

    • ‘It’s called a free press,’

      I’d call it a means of propaganda for owners with a political agenda.

    • You are crazy to vote Leave. The British will use the repatriated powers to stitch us up. Freed from Brussels’ constraints, there is no saying what they will do to us.

      Scotland is not an independent country, we will have no say in the negotiations which are likely to be protracted. We will be at the back of the queue as far as that is concerned. There might be a case for an independent Scotland being outside the EU; I agree the shine has come of the EU of late. But if you think for one moment that a Brexit will operate in our favour you are very naive indeed.

      Hold your nose if you have to but vote Remain!

      • Agree with MBC. Dread to think what will happen to all the workers benefits etc if we leave EU and Tories are left to do what they like.

  3. I have been saying for weeks now that the choice is not at all straightforward. I get fed up with those airheads who continually bleat about not knowing the real consequences of in or out. “No one tells us anything”, is the cry. “We need more information!”

    The truth of the matter is that there is no more information other than what is already available to those who look for it and the bottom line is that no one really knows what will happen whatever we vote. I think a large percentage of the vote is down to gut feeling. Are you a European or not?

    Meanwhile the right wingers behind the red tops feed the masses with their diet of racist propaganda and hatred of these immigrants who are apparently ruining our country. Anyone with half a brain should be able to see that they have no interest whatsoever in what is the best choice for the working class people who swallow it. That is why my gut feeling is to stay in. I am a Europhile and proud of it. Nothing Rupert Murdoch says will change that.

    • The cry of, “We need more information” was heard during the independence referendum and was code for, “We can’t be bothered to go looking for information which is freely available”.

      By the way Derek, it’s ‘peddled’, not ‘pedalled’.

    • Yes there is information out there. EFTA have indicated the UK would not get membership of that organisation as the group do not want a member with a population which dwarfs their own combined populations. The outers still propose a Norway model, as if it were in their gift to get. Membership of EEA still requires free movement, and Switzerland COULD be shown the door in February 2017 if they do not implement their own agreed bilaterals. The reality is, the UK may well find it is negotiating it’s exit and getting a worse deal than it has as an EU member. I may be wrong, but that’s my view. Wonder who’ll put Humpty back together again if that turns out? Westminster is sovereign, there is a parliamentry majority for remain. It might be funny if not so serious.

  4. “And when you see and hear about 10 people sharing a house, and splitting bills 10 ways, it’s hard to compete with that.”

    And where did you read about that?

    • I don’t believe everything I read in the newspapers, and part of the problem for the Remain camp is that it’s populated by people who think that the ‘lower orders’ are easily swayed by a Murdoch newspaper.

  5. Steve Asaneilean

    Great article Derek.

    But the reality is whichever way the vote goes the vast majority of of votes will have been cast in ignorance.

    Part of my professional life involves trying to understand the ideals and workings of the EU and even I am struggling to make an informed choice.

    I still (naively?) believe that it’s worth staying in and that we can change things for the better but I have no way of knowing if that is nothing more than outlandish optimism.

    I am currently reading Ostrovsky’s masterful telling of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of Putin and his inner circle and I can’t help but feel that perhaps the EU is headed in the same direction. But of course so too could a neo-con UK outside the EU.

    As for the racist press? Well that’s always been with us (just like the racist rhetoric of some of our politicians). It long predates the EU and our membership of it.

    The really scary thing for me is the complete invisibility of anything other than Tories and UKIP in terms of Westminster politicians being given air time to argue for a Remain vote.

    And (Not) Labour both here and in London seem to have resigned themselves to the likely reality that in or out of the EU we are stuck with right wing Tory rule at Westminster for perhaps a generation. They seem quite happy to fight among themselves but seem to have no fight left for the rest of us.

  6. Robert graham

    Usually I tend to agree with Derik Bateman and here comes the but .
    TTIP and the accompanying ISDS that is currently been put in the fridge along with God knows how many other unpalatable little goodies that are being hidden so as not to scare the voters .If these trade agreements that have been going on in total secrecy and have a 30 year block on disclosure are ever ratified you can say goodby to democracy , US corporations will have the legal right to dump whatever beef – chicken – wheat products – drugs that are currently banned from the EU due to either hormone injections or GMO adulteration if these Corporations are blocked they take their case to the Investor State Dispute Settlement tribunal based in surprise surprise Washinton where it is settled again in secret .
    All this is presently is going on in Brussels they would have us believe negotiations have stalled oh really nothing just stales in Brussels it just means the faceless ones are trying another route in which to deceive us yet again as have every Government has done since our entry into The EU forty odd years ago do you really think they have had a road to Damascus moment and suddenly stated telling the Truth ? .

    • Yes but if there is a Brexit and the Tories are left in charge for a generation (as they will be: various commenters above have noted the lack of fight and vigour in the British Labour party or the left in general in the UK as a whole) there is an even greater likelihood that a post-Brexit Britain will have its own version of TTIP with ISDS clauses slapped on it, as the Brexiteers look around for possible trading partners and alight upon the USA.

      OK, so Obama warned that we will be at the back of the queue: the TTIP deal is aimed at a market of 500 million not a market of just 65 million. But if the EU TTIP deal stalls – because of pressure from the EU left – might not a Brexit Britain’s be fast-tracked? Removing all the restraints and quibble points?

      Given the eagerness of the Brexiteers to ape America and follow its privatised social model, and given their desperate shortage of cash, I predict that this is what will happen.

      Hold your nose; vote Remain. The EU is far from perfect but it is a darn sight better than Brexit Britain will be!

      For one thing, if it all goes belly up (as it will) where can we escape to? The ability of serking a job in Germany or elsewhere in the EU as we did in the 1980s will be slammed shut.

  7. Needs to be affected not effected in the last paragraph (sorry a bugbear of mine from marking physiology exams), but I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    • Robert Downie

      It wasn’t in the last paragraph. Grammar is important to me since I learned of it in school.

    • No, Derek has the correct usage, as in, they have effected the cuts that they wanted to do, despite the rights or wrongs of the situation.
      The cuts have Affected many former employees of said companies.

  8. For me, the biggest mystery is the SNP’s pro-Europe stance.

    I’ve said it before, but what’s the point of gaining our sovereignty from a corrupt racket in Westminster, only to hand it over to another corrupt racket in Brussels?

    An Indy Scotland could pursue the Iceland, Norway, or Switzerland model.

    • Steve Asaneilean

      This from Full Fact:

      “Claim: Norway and Switzerland have to accept EU laws despite not being members in order to trade with it.

      Conclusion: This is about right. Both Norway and Switzerland keep out of some EU activities, such as the Common Agricultural Policy. But they bring many of their laws into line with EU rules, on the single market in particular. Norway incorporates single market rules as they’re made, while Switzerland accepts EU law from time to time in return for more market access”

      Be careful what you wish for ☺

  9. I guess folks like Tariq Ali arguing for a Brexit from the left must be ‘secret’ neo-liberals come fascists whilst the undemocratic and unaccountable EU (which is a disaster in the making) is the “progressive” future – so says the IMF, the ECB, the City (including semi-criminal outfits like Goldman Sachs), Davie Cameron, George Osbourne, the Labour party, the BBC etc. Oh and wee Nicola and Alex too. Whilst the idea of the democratic control of things like immigration policy, hence the democratic consent of the people effected by the policy is ‘reactionary’. Only in the muddled minds of SNP right or wrong merchants. Too right there hasn’t been a serious debate on the EU in the MSM. Try Peter Mair’s “Ruling the Void” or the writings of Wolfgang Streeck (the London Review of Books is a good starting point). From Derek’s point of view I guess there is simply no case at all against the EU. Talk about having a closed mind. Pathetic.

  10. There is some disinformation going on amongst these comments. Gaining independence from the UK would transfer sovereignty to Scotland. Joining international organisations would each impose their own obligations upon the newly independent Scotland.

    That does not mean ‘control’ would be handed over and soveriegnty lost.

    Ideally joining the WTO, ILO, UN, EU, NATO, IATA, or whatever organisations any fully-functioning modern nation would join should be decided democratically, by referendum or after parliamentary debate. And Parliament should be able to regularly report the status, merits and demerits of each such obligation.

  11. Singapore Mk 2. Oh yes, just grottier and more bitter, with less rights and a monarch.

    Cameron already admitted today on #marr that Scotland could easily be Norway – jaw dropping as that was, we would need to decide to ‘be’ Scotland as we want.

    The naysayers to #indy are idiots – leave it in the hands of Westminster (like now, a disaster) – but we should remember, that the #indyref2 is for independence from the UK, there will be no “tick here to join the EU” on the ballot paper.

    Once independent we can see what deal we would like and debate that as a an issue. Try not to conflate #indyref2 with EU entry, NATO membership or anything else. All it will give us is freedom from the Westminster noose, and a chance to decide for ourselves.

    • Re IndyRef2 – the SNP talk and act if they OWN Scottish sovereignty – a currency union here, EU membership there, NATO over there etc. It would be far more honest to say – those issues would be for the Scottish people to decide democratically in an iScotland but our views are X, Y, Z etc.

    • We were on holiday in Singapore a few years ago and got chatting to a local who offered to show us a few sights. Whilst appearing friendly, we felt he was forcing himself on us. After a while he told us that he was an ex merchant seaman but as there are no old age pensions in Singapore he lived in a hostel and existed on whatever money he could make from tourists. Part of the reason for Singapore’s success is that the cost of government is low. There is minimal safety net for citizens and the government, whilst nominally a republic is essentially under the control of the Lee family. If you tangle with the police, our guide told us, there is a strong risk that you will disappear.

      If that’s the model that the Brexiteers want to follow then hold on to your hats.

  12. Sturgeon making it up pish every day during this period and apparently speaking for Scotland.

    We had her statement that we get £10 back from Europe for every £1 we put in, yet the leave £10bn net loss on our contribution she called a “lie” despite it beings the government’s own figure; we had her statement that adopting something like the Australian points system or similar would increase immigration! (And she kept a straight face); we had Brexit making IndyRef2 “inevitable”, but seemingly no longer; She then calls out her own side of remain for scaremongering, then scaremongers more than anyone in the ITV debate … then she wants to build “progressive” left wing alliances, but remains committed to being controlled by an increasingly centre-right neo-liberal Europe committed to ‘sound money’ and austerity across the Eurozone. Then she decides that the second chamber House of Lords is more of an undemocratic threat to “governing” us than the undemocratic European Union who actually do govern us.

    Then we have to have uncontrolled and welcomed all immigration, despite acknowledging problems in her constituency in Glasgow for housing, health and schools, but her answer is to spend yet more money on public services despite criticising the £1.6tn debt, and Sturgeon recording a record budget deficit in her own backyard of 10%+ of fiscal gap. Yet the solution is to spend more to end austerity. Unbelievable dross from an FM.

    Sturgeon’s ‘solution’ to the lack of democratic consent or accountablity over major areas of public policy (like migration policy) is to ignore the democratic deficit and presumably to let the ‘free-market’ in movement to do whatever. After all the EU is ‘progressive’ along with Davie Cameron, Georgie Osbourne and the City of London and all the other rogues of the UK establishment. On top of that she endorses Project Fear mark 2 yet will swear till she is blue in the face that those arguments from the “experts” are right in the context of Brexit but totally bogus in the context of independence!

    One has to take her utterings seriously, as they are so incoherent, contradictory and her language confrontational and always divisive (we have to win over Unionists wakey wakey screaming “evil Tories” isn’t enough now). Now we have iScotland keeping the pound, with no UK currency union (why keep the currency of a state you want to walk out on???). It’s getting worse.

    Sadly no-one around the SNP seems to want to acknowledge any of the above. As a supporter of Scottish independence I feel Sturgeon has to raise her intellectual game ASAP. Does anyone in the SNP have the balls to raise any of these issues with Queen Nicola?

  13. Watching the media coverage as an outsider without a vote in the referendum living in Belgium, I have been shocked by the racist comments being used against foreigners, being then justified as fair comments by a number of senior members of the Leave campaign. So much for so-called British tolerance, rather than 2016, this is more reminiscent of Britain in 1936 and the complete establishment support for the Union of Fascists; including all the major political parties, Conservative, Labour and Liberal and backed by the police especially in London and of course the complete media blackout unless the victims of the Union of Fascists resisted then it was splashed all over the media as being caused by Jews, communists and fellow travellers. Have we learned nothing from history! By the way, in case anyone thinks I am “making up” or exaggerating what happened in 1936; because of course there won’t be much mention of any anniversaries of these particular times, as the full hearted support for the tyrants such as the Hitler by the English leisure classes, both before, during and after World War 2 does not fit in with modern re-written history of how Britain stood solid against fascism and dictatorships; well there are plenty of reference works available for study. Finally, to be fair, if I was presently living in the UK I would be totally confused whether to vote to remain in the EU or leave; as both campaigns have been very short on any real facts as to what would actually happen in the event they won the vote; but anyone who studies or has an interest in European history since the mid 19th Century would be very wary of stirring up some long forgotten hatred of foreigners. Maybe it is because I live in Flanders and the victims of racial hatred can be found in the thousands of cemeteries stretching throughout the entire European continent.

  14. DomesticExtremist

    Is it just me…?
    “A few weeks is hardly enough time to debate the huge implications of the United Kingdom, let alone explain how the whole bagatelle works. But there’s Scotland, blundering into a potential exit with consequences nobody can truly know under the illusion that it will mean ‘regaining control’. ”
    Did I fall through a time warp?

  15. I think that if there is a Leave vote it should be deemed invalid. Somebody should start up a campaign to that effect. Because the voting public have been shamelessly duped and manipulated. Not enough time has been allowed for debating a decision of this magnitude. The lies have not had the time to be debunked.

    Cameron made a massive mistake in thinking that a short campaign would be best in order to clinch a Remain result.

    All the same his heart was never really in Remain. He was I think at best lukewarm and equivocal. I think he considers there are advantages either way, and the Tories wil be in pole position to take advantage of them whichever way the dice falls.

  16. I’d say you’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head there Derek.

  17. Yes Derek, this really sums the whole debacle up. Have we become a fascist state, considering the MSM stance on this issue? I abhor how this whole debate has been handled, from both sides and at the end of the day, we are shafted by whoever thinks they have won.

  18. As one of your assiduous readers, Derek, I can only agree with you on the emotional case for the EU.
    What stays with me are the words of my grandfather, who left Lanarkshire to fight at the Somme, and father, who left Orkney and ended up in the jungles of Burma : “we are voting for Europe so that you never have to go through what we went through in the war”.
    That was in 1975, when the referendum was really about the issue of Britain’s place in the world and our relationship with our neighbourhood. Contrary to what people say now, it wasn’t really about the economy – few people understood or were inspired by the Common Market.
    The argument was between those who felt more comfortable with the way things were in the 1950s, and those who thought that the doors were closing on a Britain clinging to a fast-fading Empire, willing to take the risk of opening up to the neighbours.
    You often say you are mystified by the ways of Brussels – maybe you are ‘othering’ the EU in the way that you rightly criticise our political leaders for. But if I could say to my grandfather that British, Germans and French, a Spain liberated from fascism, not to speak of the now independent countries that they had never heard of, were working together in the same town, the same building, the same corridor, the same offices, not fighting but talking, he would say – it’s a miracle!
    Every day that ‘Brussels bureaucrats’ come to work together to find solutions – in those meetings that you find so boring or incomprehensible – is a miracle day for the people who fought in the trenches and jungles.
    Every boring discussion about product standards, police cooperation, the rights of working people, energy saving lightbulbs, mobile phone charges, bankers’ bonuses, clean air, research cooperation, is a testimony to those who fought for our freedom. Each one, a tiny step to paying back the enormous debt we owe them.
    Each Member State of the EU has committed to provide consular protection to the citizens of any other Member State. If I could say to my grandfather now – “Papa, if ever you’re in trouble abroad and you can’t get to the British Embassy, go to the Germans, they’ll look after you” – he would have tears in his eyes.
    And for all the talk about the lack of democracy in the EU, not one decision can be taken by bureaucrats. They all have to be taken by elected people – in the European Parliament, or by elected national ministers in the Council.
    No proposal to change any law can be made without publishing details about how it might affect people and what the costs and benefits are. You can ask for and get the emails of European Commission staff involved in preparing decisions, the minutes of meetings, who lobbied for what.
    For all the talk about not being able to remove the bureaucrats, the sacking of the European Commission in 1999 is probably the only example in the world of an entire civil service being removed by elected people. What could we say about Westminster ‘taking control’ of its own bureaucracy.?
    Just because people can’t be bothered to follow this, or say “it’s so complicated” doesn’t mean that it’s not democratic.
    But it could be made so much better. Open up the hidden places in the EU – the lobbying, the ‘technical’ discussions where the opinions of Member States are never revealed, the conflicts of interest of members of parliament. Get people involved in shaping ideas and challenging public officials.
    Shine a light on the dark places, and the EU can be better.
    Ah, but what about Greece, then – or TTIP ?
    Well, Greece asked for 300 billion Euro and got it – but the awful conditions were not imposed by Brussels but by elected politicians fearful of their taxpayers and voters. The crazy austerity came from the conservative ideology of elected leaders – of exactly the same type as we have governing from Westminster.
    The same happened with TTIP – but it hasn’t got through yet. Almost 3 million people across Europe are involved in a campaign to remove the worst aspects of TTIP. The European Parliament can vote it down. They’ve already forced the light to shine on the issues at stake. But it’s just as much a fight in each country – especially in the UK where the government is pushing for the talks to be concluded as soon as possible. No group of people in a single country on its own can resist this. But together, it’s possible.
    So what about immigration then ? The only way to cut immigration in the long term is to invest in the skills of British workers, to provide proper child care so that women can work more easily, to encourage the innovation and new ideas that generate growth. Those are all decisions taken by national governments, not the EU. If the EU can do anything, it could provide a service by helping countries work better together, to make the sum bigger than its parts – the economies of scale that working across boundaries can generate.
    But our referendum has thrown up an alternative – to leave the EU, get rid of the immigrants, cut the growth rate of the economy and the number of jobs. Then we don’t need people to come. We can even go back to the days of net emigration, to help all those who say that our ‘wee island is too crowded’.
    But since immigrants are net taxpayers, we’ll need to increase taxes now to maintain the crumbling NHS. Oh, and take back the 1 million Brits in the EU, mostly pensioners, who will have plenty of demands on housing and health services.
    In the short term, when we can’t get enough people to work in the health service and care homes, or in the tourist industry, or in agriculture, we’ll need to get them from outside the EU. The nearest ones are Turkey, Albania, North Africa and the Middle East. More likely, from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. How long before anti-EU feeling turns to anti-Muslim ?
    Surveys show that the people voting to leave the EU don’t even believe that it will really cut immigration. Their concerns are about something else – “our town isn’t like it used to be”. The closed factories, the delayed doctors appointments, the crowded schoolrooms, the declining health service, the housing crisis – none of which is anything to do with the EU.
    It’s strangely reminiscent of the referendum in 1975 – people looking backwards, trying to get back something that has gone. And people looking forward to the things that they could get by working together.
    Only this time, after 40 years of political leaders othering Europe, of nothing but bad stories promoted by a press with commercial interests outside Europe – even Boris Johnson admits that he made almost all of them up – who is left to argue the positive case ?
    If there is a difference between Scotland and England, it’s that people know that Scotland is a small country that needs to work with others. Most of England still thinks of itself as a big country, an island of itself.
    Enough for Scotland to exchange one type of dominance for another ?
    Except that in Westminster, there are no written rules. There are no guaranteed rights. There are only subjects, not citizens. No nations that can refuse illegal wars or nuclear weapons. No countries that can escape policies they didn’t vote for.
    The EU may have hundreds of pages of Treaties. Complex and boring ones. But they are written down. They are scrutinised publicly. And judged. They guarantee independent nations rights and votes. Vetoes over things like wars or weapons. Dignity. For the people that fought for our freedom.

  19. Great post!

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