Those who advocate voting ‘Out’ of the EU, so often damage their cause beyond measure by their ignorant and ill-tempered demeanour on social networks. The intemperate language they adopt, the abuse they hurl at EU supporters, the defensive arguments they promote, all demonstrate an absence of a fuller understanding of the wider issues, and portray many of these otherwise probably genuine people as a bunch of swivel-eyed fantasists.
However, in so many cases, they are ill-advised and factually bereft, because they are very badly influenced by people like Boris Johnson and other contemporary political EU-deniers, who use the wider referendum campaign as an opportunity to disseminate a wide range of self-serving lies, deceits, fantasies and half-digested theories, masquerading as fully-formed policy, but whose motives are entirely selfish and do not bear even the scantest searching review.
One has only to observe the posturings of people like Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg, William Cash, Liam Fox et al, to appreciate the degree of personal self interest given to these protestations. The first recognition is that they are all wealthy men, whose own financial interests are unlikely to be deeply undermined by their desertion of the EU cause.
They have other agendas, in Johnson’s case, he is so desperate to become the next Tory Prime Minister, that he will do anything, espouse any cause, adopt any policy, if he believes it will ingratiate him with the Tory rump of mean-minded, mealy-mouthed, selfish and bigoted supporters of the right-wing ‘Little Englander’ tendency..
Nick Cohen, writing in the Guardian excoriates Bo-Jo and calls him a liar and a con-man. He says;
“...If countries get the politicians they deserve, the possibility of a Johnson premiership suggests that the British are now a nation of charlatans. No one who has studied him thinks he is telling the truth when he says he believes that it is in our best interests to leave the European Union. The reason why he must deceive reveals Johnson’s low character as clearly as his casual mendacity...”
Later Cohen points out Bo-Jo’s other shortcomings, identifying that;
“...Any man with a functioning sense of shame would have worried about his long record of supporting the EU. As late as February, Johnson was saying that leaving would embroil
“...the government for several years in a fiddly process of negotiating new arrangements, so diverting energy from the real problems of this country...”. And so it would. Elsewhere he acknowledged that we would not get free trade without accepting EU regulation and immigration...”
I have adopted the image of Don Quixote for Bo-Jo, as a means of illustrating his tendency to see enemies where none exist, but which nonetheless, permits him to imagine them to serve his own ends. Cervantes describes how Quixote tilts at windmills which he imagines are giants.
“...Just then they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that rise from that plain. And no sooner did Don Quixote see them that he said to his squire, "Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless."
"What giants?" asked Sancho Panza.
"Those you see over there," replied his master, "with their long arms. Some of them have arms well nigh two leagues in length."
John Major had a word for these kind of people, coined in his nightmare moment during the debate on the Maastricht Treaty, he called them ‘bastards’, and he was right.
These people are happy to take everything out of the Union which they think will profit the themselves, but they do not want to part with one brass razoo, or make one penny contribution which they perceive might be of any benefit to any other EU citizens. That is why the debate so often polarises around the amount of money we pay to Brussels as our contribution, but never seems to recognise the amount we get back from the EU in wider benefits.
The debate is all about ‘us’, it is rarely if ever about ‘all of us’. It is a discussion centred in the narrowest self-interest and a refusal to consider the wider benefit of other people in Europe with whom we must co-exist, co-operate and correspond if we anticipate a beneficial future, and it is an argument arrayed by a group of people who seem to know the cost of everything, but the value of nothing.
This state of mind flows over into discussions of wider policy and distorts the ambitions of those who want to leave.
On 11th March 2016, Bo-Jo, when talking about EU trade options, opined; “...What I think we should do is strike a new free trade deal, along the lines of what Canada has just achieved...”
However, within days, on 23rd March 2016, having realised that the Canadian model had significant drawbacks, the great windmill charger was saying; “...I don’t want to imitate the Canadian deal...”
Well, what is it Boris, make your mind up, man. Your legions of supporters are hanging on your every word!
What politicians of this type forget is that their intemperate mouthings become perceived ‘words of wisdom’ to a certain kind of voter, and those who espouse the ‘Let’s all leave now’ brand of political chicanery, take these words at face value. And in so doing, they are very badly served.
Johnson and his fellow travellers should realise, (indeed I suspect that they know only too well) that by creating a set of misguided expectations and raising a number of false flags among the intellectually challenged, they will create a distorted political agenda, which will be seized upon, and used as justification for even louder demands for leaving the EU.
Take such concepts as ‘securing our borders’, or ‘retaining our own sovereignty’!
Do those who parrot these hackneyed old mantras truly believe that any meaningful changes will be generated by clinging to these worn-out shibboleths? Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6, albeit 17 years ago, has said that by being out of the EU we would have greater control over our ability to deport criminals.
What utter tosh, only last week the Home Office was forced to admit, in a report from MPs on the Committee of Public Accounts, who said there had been a "complete failure" by the Home Office to deal with the problem of removing foreign criminals from this country. This has got nothing to do with the EU, it is our own home grown failure to deal with the problem through lack of staff and political incompetence and it is about to get worse as the Government withdraws even further funding from the Borders Agency.
Politicians who continue to use these phrases, perpetuating these untruths, as a means of dragging in support from the uncertain and the insecure, are laying the groundwork for future disappointment and disillusion, but why should they care, as long as they get their own way?
And that is the major problem. Our whole debate on the EU Referendum is badly distorted and ill-informed. There is great disagreement over even the smallest issues, we cannot discuss our future inside or outside the EU because of the polarised attitudes of the Brexit promoters who form opinions and deliver judgements based upon no knowledge, information, facts or logic. They can do no less, because they have no evidence on which to act or judge, so everything they postulate must be the worst form of hypothesis, or worse, prejudice, inflamed and inflated by the intemperate words of the mendacious politicians who seek to use the voters to do their dirty work for them in the hope that they will deliver a result which while it may be of end-use to the politicos, will serve no useful purpose for the individual voter in the longer run..
Those of us who keenly promote the EU status-quo do so because we know what we get from our membership. We have got 40 years of experience to work on and we can recite the benefits that accrue to us through our membership. We have facts, and knowledge, the Brexiteers have an empty vacuum, and in that unpopulated space, confusion is inevitably generated.
Through all this uncertainty and doubt, this huge confusion exists in the minds of many hundreds of thousands of people. Every night the news programmes are crammed with commentators debating and disagreeing. The politicians slink around the studios, pushing their competing agendas, more and more conflicting statements are made, the tv pundits float more and more misleading assertions as a means of promoting ‘edgy’ debate, and the public are left even more confused than ever.
This doubt is not just felt in the UK, it is also felt, most keenly, in the EU. There is almost universal unwillingness among our other fellow EU members to see the UK leave the Union, but at the same time, there is significant dissatisfaction and frustration at the British Brexit posturing over their future membership status.
In the last week I wrote an opinion piece in which I pointed out that it was not surprising that at a time of significant upheaval, when ordinary people’s minds were being distracted by this hugely unnecessary disagreement over our EU membership, and that the communities of the EU more generally were being conflicted by these debates, that ISIS terrorists should choose to ‘seize the time’ and engage in a series of ‘Situationist’ style outrages and attacks.
Terrorists are arch masters at exploiting insecurity and indecision. Their actions are not necessarily intended to have any specific pre-programmed outcome, they will, in many cases, conduct operations simply to amplify instability, to take advantage of any perceived lacuna in security, to exploit any weakness or agitate any form of distraction in the body politic.
It is done with the primary aim of asserting their autonomy, of demonstrating their ability to hit at any place and at any time. In a way, terrorism of this type is defined as ‘theatre’, designed to send a series of messages and to sow the seeds of confusion, doubt and uncertainty, and these latest outrages in Paris and Brussels have certainly succeeded in achieving those ends.
I have no qualm in asserting that the level of disinformation and political chicanery which has been practised by unscrupulous politicians who have deliberately manipulated the mind-sets of hundreds of thousands of British citizens, has had a direct knock-on effect in rendering a level of instability and uncertainty to thrive and this has led directly to a situation where we are placed at greater risk because of the likelihood of terrorists seeking to exploit the unsettled situation created by these unscrupulous politicians, around an issue which is of such importance to so all of us.
The Referendum offered by David Cameron is completely unnecessary, and has merely been introduced as a feeble exercise by an uncertain politician in a futile attempt to get his right-wing rump of backbenchers off his case. It has backfired spectacularly and we are now faced with a period of huge instability, insecurity and uncertainty, pending the outcome.
The end result will be to generate even more silliness.
It is in circumstances such as these that our politicians must realise that their casual words cannot be sprayed around indiscriminately. They influence people, and in a febrile atmosphere, where there is very little information or evidence on which to make an informed decision about leaving the EU, they owe a greater duty of care to choose their words with caution, and not unnecessarily arouse false expectations.
Listening to so many of these commentators talking about the UK status in Europe after Brexit. I get the overriding impression of a man deciding to divorce his wife, all the while congratulating himself that he will not have to pay her any more housekeeping money, which he will be able to spend on himself.
The Judge, not unreasonably points out that while this may be true, he’s going to award the wife a similar sum for maintenance, which the man must pay, if he wants to see his children “What’s more”, says the judge, you must stay on your side of the fence and if you want to go to your wife’s house to see your children, you will have to get special permission in writing to be allowed in before you go. However, if strangers and friends of your wife want to come to your house, you will still have to answer the door and spend time and effort deciding if they can come in, which will take time and cost you more money.
The man says; “...Well, I will be financially worse off by getting this divorce, I will gain no benefit...”
“...Yes...” says the judge. Perhaps you should have thought of that before you started this nonsense in the first place.
Perhaps those who are campaigning so hard for the rest of us to leave our responsibilities in the EU, should first consider the words of the poet John Donne when he wrote in 1624;
“...No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee...” John Donne, Meditation XVII
The politicians are doing none of us any good service by their weasel words and their fantasies. They are causing great dissension, and they do not have the best interests of UK plc in mind!
Let us debate the EU issue with all the powers at our disposal, but let us do so armed with facts, with informed views and with logic. Let us do so above all, with good grace, and with good manners.
If you are unable to adopt these simple requirements, please do not bother to engage on this site, I respect your right to hold your views, but I don’t have to read them on my own web page. If you want to be abusive, rude and intemperate, then go and do it on another page of your own.