Tag Archives: europe

Five Parallels between Brexit andTrump

puzzle-268905_960_720On November 8th I went to bed feeling cautiously optimistic. Surely the American public can’t really elect someone like Donald Trump, I thought. The polls were putting Hilary Clinton in the lead.  I awoke the next morning and listened to the news in shocked disbelief. It was a feeling I remembered from June when, on the day of the EU referendum I also went to bed with the same optimism that surely everything would be OK, surely we wouldn’t really vote to turn our backs on the organisation that had protected me and safeguarded me all of my adult life, and I also woke to the devastating news of a terrifying unknown future.

That feeling of sickening dread and disbelief was so similar to how I felt the morning after the EU referendum that it got me thinking about other ways in which the two events were alike.

  1. The Polls. All through the EU referendum campaign the polls put Remain ahead. Sometimes Leave managed to close the gap a little but they were always far enough behind to make a victory for Leave look unlikely . Likewise during the US election campaign, although at times Trump managed to inch forwards in the polls he never got close enough to make a Republican win seem at all likely .
  2. The Lies. There were so many lies told by the leave campaigners that I wrote a blog post on the subject which you can read here. Trump’s campaign also did not let the truth get in the way of success. Trump said that Hilary Clinton wanted to let anyone come into the USA without doing anything about it. Trump also claimed that Obama founded ISIS and Hilary Clinton was the co-founder. I could go on but Trump’s lies would need a blog post all to themselves.
  3. The Slogans. Some of the slogans used by the Leave campaigners were remarkably similar to Trump’s slogans. “Let’s take back our country!” “Make America /Britain great again!” These slogans are actually completely meaningless but I can see how they might sound appealing if you don’t think too deeply about their lack of meaning.
  4. Targeting immigrants. With Trump it was Mexicans. With Brexit it was EU migrants and also, rather strangely, Turks, who are not even in the EU. Outlandish claims abounded about how many would arrive and what they would do .
  5. Hate crime. Perhaps partly as a result of number 4 above, hate crimes against foreigners increased after the referendum result and now sadly the same thing is happening in the USA. Trump’s appeal to the perpetrators to “stop it” is perhaps one of the most insincere things I’ve ever heard him say. I don’t think people suddenly started hating foreigners when before they hadn’t, but they believed that the vote legitimised their hatred. Whereas before they kept their hateful opinions to themselves, now they feel they have the right to act on them.

It has been said many times that the popularity of Trump and of Brexit are due to the fact that politicians are not listening to ordinary people. These are protest votes by people wanting change. But is this really the sort of change we want? By all means let’s protest and demand change but not like this. We are better than this.

Advertisements

Three Lies Told by the Leave Campaigners

Many of the claims made by both sides in the EU Referendum campaign cannot be substantiated without a crystal ball, because we simply don’t know what might happen if we leave the EU. Some claims, however, can be shown to be untrue with a little common sense, or simply by walking into any supermarket in the EU. If I were to write about all the fibs and fabrications they have told I wouldn’t finish this before June 23rd, so I have just picked my three favourite falsehoods.
image

  1. Boris’s Bunches of Bananas Brexit Blunder. Boris Johnson has said that the EU do not let us sell bananas in bunches of more than three. A quick trip to any supermarket in the EU will prove that this is a lie, as you can see from my photo above.
  2. Tall Tales about Turkey. Vote Leave told us that Turkey were about to join the E, suggesting that the entire population of Turkey – some 76 million – were poised to land on our shores. In actual fact Turkey will not be able to join the EU for many years, if at all. They first applied to join in 1987, and since then, just one of the “chapters” that must be completed on signing up to the EU rules before they can join has been signed off. In any case, if we remain in the EU the UK will have a veto.  The approval of each member country is required for them to join. Even if Turkey were, several decades from now, to join the EU, it’s unlikely that most of them would choose to uproot and move abroad, and those that did would have a wide choice of countries to choose from. They wouldn’t all come to the UK. If they did, I might consider going and living in Turkey myself; I quite like the idea of having a whole country all to myself.
  3. NHS Nonsense According to the slogan on the Leave Campaign battle bus,“We send the EU £350m a week. Let’s fund our NHS instead.” This is really two lies. If you want to know how the figure of £350m was arrived at and why it is a distortion, you can read an excellent article  here. Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston, chair of the health select committee has moved from the leave campaign to the remainers, such is her outrage at this deception. The UK Statistics Authority has declared the figure to be misleading and inaccurate. The second part of the lie is the preposterous idea that Jeremy Hunt would use that fictional £350m a week to fund the NHS. If the Leave Campaign think the British public will believe that tale then they must think we are completely stupid. Jeremy Hunt makes no secret of the fact that he wishes to privatise the NHS – he even co-wrote a book on the subject. He is systematically trying to undermine the NHS and set it up for failure so that he can sell it off to his rich friends, hence his scandalous treatment of our junior doctors. The idea that he would suddenly turn round and invest 350 million fictitious pounds per week in the NHS is laughable.

You might like to read my other blog posts on the topic of the EU Referendum:

One More Analogy About the EU Referendum

Why Brexit is like a Mid-Life Crisis

Four Reasons why Britain Should Stay in the EU

One More Analogy About the EU Referendum

euflag.pngYou may have read my recent post Why Brexit is Like a Mid Life Crisis. Another analogy came to my mind the other day. Many people are complaining that we are not being given any facts and figures about what would happen to the UK if we leave the EU. Well the reason for that is that there are no facts or figures. It hasn’t happened so nobody knows. We can predict what might happen but we don’t really know what will happen to the economy, immigration, and all the other things that people worry about.

It’s a bit like your house. Do you like your house? There are probably things you like about it, otherwise you wouldn’t have bought it or rented it. There are probably things you don’t like and things that you would like to change. Some of the things can probably be changed with a little work. You might be able to afford a new bathroom. You could easily fix that dripping tap in the kitchen if you put your mind to it. Other things are not so easily fixed such as the area in which you live. But if somebody asked you to hand over the keys to your house, and they would give you another house instead, would you accept the exchange?

You have no idea where this new house is. You might need to look for a new job because it might be too far from where you work. It might be in a much nicer neighbourhood than where you live now but it might not. Think about a neighbourhood that you really wouldn’t want to live in. What would you do if this new house was right there?

You have no idea how much the rent or the mortgage will be. It might be cheaper than what you pay now, but it might be completely out of your budget. It would be nice to think about all the things you could spend the extra money on if it turns out to be cheaper, but what would you do if it was much more expensive and you couldn’t pay?

You don’t know how big this new house will be or what it will be like. Will it suit your family’s needs?

What if your new house has even more defects than your old one? You might be lucky and find the house of your dreams but what are the chances? You are not the one making the choices.

And there would be no going back. Once you had made the swap you would have to live there forever.

The EU has its defects. There are things we like about it and things we don’t. We might be able to change some of the things we don’t like with a bit of work; others we might just have to put up with. But if we leave, what will we find? I have heard people saying that the money we pay to the EU could be put into the NHS, but do you really believe it would be? This government has shown utter contempt for the NHS. If there really is any money saved, which is not certain, you won’t have a say in where it goes. It is more likely to end up in some Panamanian bank account. I have heard it said that we need to leave the EU to stop immigration. It won’t stop immigration. Yes, there will be fewer legal immigrants – the ones who pay their taxes, employ UK citizens and make a net contribution to the UK economy – but how is that going to solve the problem?

If I knew what house I would be moving to, if I had chosen the new house myself and had surveys carried out, if I had done the maths and made sure I could afford the mortgage, then of course I would move if I was sure that it was a change for the better. But let’s not take a leap in the dark when the issues are so huge.14444-illustration-of-a-house-pv.png

 

Take a look at my other post on the EU referendum: Four Reasons Why Britain Should Stay in the EU

 

 

 

 

Why Brexit is like a Mid-Life Crisis

 

EU-flag

Recently I have been listening to the arguments put forward by the leave campaigners, and they bring to mind the whinings of a middle-aged spouse in the throes of a mid-life crisis.

For the purposes of this blog post I will call our middle aged person “he” although I am aware that women can go through this too.

Our middle-aged man looks around him at his single or divorced friends and is envious of their lives. They don’t have whingey children whodrain their money and need attention. They can be completely selfish, spending all their money on beer and all their time playing video games. They don’t need to follow rules made up by a controlling wife who insists they do their share of the housework and put things away when they have finished with them and don’t come in drunk at 2am. They don’t have to do any housework and can come home as late as they wish. Our man’s children invite their friends into his house, and some of them are even foreigners! Why should foreigners be allowed to come into his house and eat his food? He wants to take back control of his house and lock the doors.

Likewise the brexiters look at other countries outside the EU and wail, “Why can’t we be like Norway or Canada or Albania? Why should we have to take other people’s wishes into consideration? Why do we have to follow these pesky rules made by other people? Why do we have to pay money to the EU? Why do we have to welcome other people into our country?”

But beware. What happens to our middle aged man if he does decide to leave his wife and family? Does he live a blissful independent life of freedom with no rules and no responsibilities? After an initial period of euphoric partying he starts to realise that there is a reason for most of the rules he so resented. If he doesn’t do housework he quickly runs out of clean dishes, and he can’t find anything because the house is in such a mess and he never puts anything back in its place. If he comes home drunk at 2am he wakes up feeling terrible and there is vomit on the carpet which he has to clean up by himself because there is nobody to do it for him. In fact he is beginning to realise just how much the other people in his family did for him now that he has to do everything by himself. Even his children’s foreign friends used to help fix his computer and plaster his living room. Now he has to pay someone else to do all those things. His money, which he thought would be his to spend as he wished, suddenly seems to be disappearing even faster than before because he still has to support his children but now he has to pay rent for his own flat too. He’s getting a bit worried about what might happen if he loses his job – his boss has warned him about being late because he’s been out till 2am and there’s nobody there to make sure he wakes up and gets out of the house on time. And he still has to look after his children every other weekend while his wife goes out enjoying herself, only now he has to do it alone so he can’t pretend to be asleep and let his wife get up when one of them has a bad dream. And there is nobody else there to cook their meals or clean up their sick when they are ill.

I fear that similarly, Britain will not enjoy the benefits that the brexiters hope for if we leave the family of the European Union. We will find that those pesky EU rules that we resent so much are actually quite important for protecting us. Rules about clean beaches may seem harsh but guess what? They serve to keep our beaches clean! Rules about what we can and can’t put into food serve to keep our food safe. I fear we might learn this the hard way. And we will still have to pay the EU if we want to trade with them, but we won’t get anything in return. And all these foreigners we like to complain so much about, what will we do without them? Who will nurse us when we are sick? Who will take care of our teeth and clean our offices? And who will look after all the pensioners who, waking up one morning in Spain to find themselves Non-EU Citizens, will flock back home to the UK where they can still enjoy the rights that they are now denied such as free health care?

When our middle aged man realises his mistake he goes crawling back to his family but it is too late. they have grown accustomed to him not being around. They thought they needed him, but they are getting along fine without him.

Don’t let’s be like our middle aged man. Don’t let’s grow old alone and unhappy. If we are tired of our life in the EU then let’s express our mid life crisis in a different way – let’s go out and buy a sports car or dye our hair purple. But don’t let’s throw away 43 years of marriage on some misguided idea of sovereignty or freedom.

Four Reasons why Britain Should Stay in the EU

EU-flag

This is a hugely significant time in British history. The EU referendum is an extremely important decision, but many voters still seem unclear about the ins and out of staying in or going out. Here are just a few reasons why, although the EU is certainly far from perfect, I’m in the “in” crowd.

  1. The European Convention on Human Rights This convention protects some of the most fundamental rights and freedoms of all of us such as the right to a free trial, and freedom of expression. leaving this protection behind could be a very dangerous move.
  2. EU Employment Law. This legislation covers such fundamental issues as anti-discrimination, equal treatment of men and women in the workplace, maternity rights, pension rights and parental leave. It regulate the contracts that employers have to draw up with their employees containing information about the length of the working day or week, amount of paid leave etc. Without this protection I fear that we could go back to an era where employers could exploit their workers in ways that seem unthinkable now.
  3. Freedom of travel. When I was in my twenties I decided that I wanted to travel, so I went to Italy and got a job teaching English in a language school. I was able to do this because of the EU. I made friends with an Australian girl while I was there and she was only able to work for language schools that were prepared to pay her cash in hand. I was able to work with a proper contract and I paid taxes to the Italian government. I want the same opportunities for my children and for everyone in Britain.
  4. Immigration. Research shows that people coming to the UK from other EU countries make a positive contribution to the UK economy. They pay more in taxes than they take in benefits. You can read about the research here. According to an article in The Economist, “Immigrants’ overall positive contribution is explained in part by the fact that they are less likely than natives to claim benefits or to live in social housing”. This is contrary to what certain political parties would have us believe. If we were to leave the EU, these immigrants would still come but they would find illegal ways of earning a living thus making themselves vulnerable to exploitation, working for less than the minimum wage and so threatening the livelihoods of UK workers, and paying no tax to our economy. There is much talk of “controlling our own borders” in the media at the moment, but how would we control our own borders without the support of the EU? Would we build a fence around our 18,000 km of coastline and police it 24 hours a day? It would be impossible. Immigrants would come; let’s just make sure their pay their share by staying in the EU.

These are just a few of the reasons I will be voting to stay in the EU. What do you think? Post your views in the comments.