Are we sleep-walking out of Europe ?

Media interest seems to be focused on the trivial matter of "in-work benefits" to migrant workers from Europe.

Very little informed discussion of the benefits and consequences of us remaining part of Europe v the benefits and consequences of us leaving.

Or am I just not tuning into the appropriate TV channel or overlooking some "White Paper" that is on sale in WH Smith ?

Original Post

Me too Don, I'm missing any informed debate with any real detail.

The Stay In campaigners need to get their act together and start providing some facts or else your thread title may well become a reality as the tabloids and scare mongerers seem to have the loudest voice at the moment. Not much balance on show from where I am sitting.

Hmack posted:

George Fredrik Fiske posted:

"Getting out will be the best thing that the UK has done since 1945". 

Apologies for being so abrupt, but - Rubbish!

A dangerous thing, introducing politics to a forum like this. 

Despite George's simple statement of his overall point of view, I anticipate a more informed exposition of points of view on this forum than in the Commons................!! and possibly some  helpful direction indicators as to where we might manage to inform ourselves.

Do we rearly want to stay in a club run by un-elected mandarins full of self interest. It also seems to work under the rule that it all depends on "what Angela says". Also I do not think it can ever work fully satisfactory with countries with such     varying economies. After all it is this that is causing the migrant problem.

philip

 

 

Dear Don,

Your opening post is loaded with the idea that we might be sleep walking out of Europe, and to my mind this suggests that you think staying in - I may have mistaken your meaning - would be a bad thing.

You then say that you have no idea where you should look for informed thought on the subject.

I am guessing that your remember the referendum that took us into the EEC. And I guess that you have probably been wide awake to the implications of this membership ever since. I am surprised that you need to have a quick debate now not to be certain of your own mind.

Certainly I do not think anything our Prime Minister may extract as a reform of our relationship with the EU is going to be enough to put right was put wrong forty years ago. Indeed I discount his sayings so far as having any significance on the issue with his tub-thumping rhetoric about cutting benefits to migrants. The issue is far more radical than that.

ATB from George

 

Don Atkinson posted:

"Despite George's simple statement of his overall point of view, I anticipate a more informed exposition of points of view on this forum than in the Commons................!! "

Quite right, and I accept the criticism.

Well, I will begin by stating that my belief is that from an economic perspective we are better off remaining inside the EU (but retaining the UK currency) than exiting Europe. However, I accept this is a difficult argument (on both sides), but from a simple position of trust, belief and credibility, I would far rather side with the politicians and economists on my side rather than the rag-bag (I am sorry, but politics is an emotive subject) of questionable individuals on the other side.

However, my biggest concern about the possibility of an 'exit' vote, is that this will further divide the North and South of the country. I feel pretty confident that in the event of an 'Exit' vote and any real move towards an exit, there will shortly afterwards be a referendum in Scotland in which the overwhelming majority of people will vote to stay in Europe and leave the UK.

This is something I do not want to happen, and something that I believe will not happen in the foreseeable future should the vote be to remain in the EU. 

 

Part of the problem is that the rest of Europe are committed to closer and closer ties and the UK is not.  We can't have our cake and eat it despite our deluded prime ministers attempts, in my view, we are either in or out.  Which that should be is very much open to debate

Dear Don,

I believe that if the UK left the EU, then it would be quite right for Scotland to make a decision on remaining in the United Kingdom in quite changed circumstances. If Scotland would prefer its own sovereignty to sharing it with the other UK countries and then wish to rejoin the EU that then would be the business of the Scottish voting population. I would be unconcerned either way. I am not Scottish.

I am a firm believer in democracy, where each person who votes has an equal voice. It is the case that sometime people vote in majority against what you would support, but I support the notion even when the result is contrary to my own view.

I am all for democracy. I am also all in favour of cutting down the number of levels of Government we have. Two seems ideal to me. Westminster and County Council.

This may turn into a very interesting discussion! ATB from George

 

I think Don captures this well by using the term 'sleep walking'.

In my view we would be bonkers to leave the EU.  Unfortunately the debate seems to be dominated by the very narrow topics of migration and benefit payments, and the Daily Mail and other papers doing their best to stir up people's little-Englander prejudices.  The only reason the referendum was committed to was Cameron's sop to the rabid anti-Europe elements in his party. A poor call on his part since, frankly, no matter what 'concessions' the PM negotiates with his counterparts in other EU members states, those elements would never be satisfied. They want us out of the EU, period. 

 

 

Only a moron would vote to leave Europe and watch the economy collapse. There should be no referendum, it should be left to Parliament. But Cameron is terrified of his right wing, so we end up in a position where the uninformed, racist or both, could potentially do untold damage to the UK and our friends across the Channel. 

While this ridiculous charade unfolds, investment decisions will be delayed, the economy will falter and airtime will be given to those who want to turn back the clock fifty years. England for the English!! Or, hopefully, not.

 

I agree with all of that, HH. Cameron's legacy could well be pulling us out of the EU with the consequence of throwing the economy back into a serious and long-term recession, and causing the break-up of the Union. I believe he wants none of these things but I fear he may not now be able to control events. 

George posted:

"I am a firm believer in democracy, where each person who votes has an equal voice. It is the case that sometime people vote in majority against what you would support, but I support the notion even when the result is contrary to my own view".

I too believe in democracy. However, we live with (or endure) in this country a confrontational political system in which a party (with some very extreme views in the eyes of many) can claim a carte-blanche mandate for all of its policies with approximately 36% of the votes cast in a general election (never mind the viewpoint of those who haven't voted).

This is divisive, and has led (irrespective of whether left or right is in power) to a succession of governments over the years which have not been truly supported by the majority of people in this country. This has further been exacerbated by the North/South divide in respect of wealth and well-being.

For those who don't care whether or not Scotland chooses to leave the UK, consider whether you will be happy to live with a 'right-wing' (possibly leaning more and more to the right - who knows?) government in perpetuity. Not much hope for proportional representation anytime soon.

No doubt, many will be very happy with this prospect. However, many others will not. The UK (excluding Scotland) will become more and more divided.

Didn't realise I felt quite so passionate about this. I think I'll dismantle my soap-box before I burst a blood vessel.   

Hungryhalibut posted:

Only a moron would vote to leave Europe and watch the economy collapse. There should be no referendum, it should be left to Parliament. But Cameron is terrified of his right wing 

Cameron's only way to fix his right wing problem is a referendum, he can never win - or at least not in his lifetime.  Even so, with a vote to stay in EU,  the euro sceptics will be a constant drip drip but he will have the support of the vote to better manage them.
A vote to leave will break up the UK as Scotland will vote (again) to go independent, if an independent Scotland will get membership of EU is another question, but an un-united kingdom will get blamed on Cameron.
Its hard ball all in poker

Dear HMack,

Your points are certainly well observed with respect to our first past the post elections, but it is the system that has evolved in the UK, and the results mean that few governments tends to survive more than one or two re-elections. This itself is a good thing as it leads to a clear out of politicians every few years and prevents the kind of entrenched position that can ever so easily lead to being out completely out of touch with the electorate.

My view is simply that until someone can invent a PR system that still implies that an MP has a direct appeal to his or her voters, then PR tends to put power into the party machines who post candidate lists and select from it the chosen MPs by placing nearer the top. I am in favour of ideal democracy I would hate to loose the right to help choose the individual MP for my individual constituency. 

However none this concerns the EU as such, which after all has a massive unelected [appointed] bureaucracy that is in the position to over-rule what used to be the sovereign United Kingdom Parliament. I think the Prime Minister will get his token shifts in the relationship with Europe, and because this is always done with quid-pro-quo exchanges and compromises, we shall gain little and potentially loose more even with this current shame of a renegotiation. 

ATB from George

The same idiots that will vote in a referendum are surely the same ones who vote in the general election.  I think it is unfair to label those who want to leave the EU as uninformed and racist.  They could be just as informed and just as unprejudiced as those who want to stay in - they just don't agree with your view.  It's a poor start to the debate if the stance is that those who don't agree are uninformed and racist and those who do are of course well informed and reasonable human beings.  To my mind those entrenched and judgemental views make a referendum where all people can make their decision a no brainer. If we trust the government who were placed in power by the electorate in an act of democracy I really can't see how we can not trust democracy to arrive at the right decision on this.

Dear Daylay,

Totally agree.

Calling people you disagree morons or racists or other emotive things is hardly a propitious start to what is after all a rather important subject of discussion. People who use [and have already used] such emotive put downs should consider very carefully their starting point. It is fine to disagree, but very rude to insult people willy-nilly.

ATB from George

dayjay posted:

If we trust the government who were placed in power by the electorate in an act of democracy I really can't see how we can not trust democracy to arrive at the right decision on this.

dayjay - I know it can sound high-handed but in my view some things are best left to the elected government of the day.  For an extreme example, a decision to go to war.  To take another (and at the risk of stirring up a different and emotive debate), the decision on whether the State should have capital punishment.  If a referendum were held on re-introducing the death penalty, and re-introduction was supported by the 'Red Top' papers, how do you think that would turn out?

In my view this referendum on EU membership is ill-thought through and questions of membership to any supra-national government body should be decided by Parliament.    

I don't necessarily disagree with that, but the decision has been made and there will be a referendum.  In my view the best chance of a good end result from it will be to have the debate focus on the facts; not insults and scare mongering, just the demonstrable facts.  Trust me, if we don't drift into insults and rhetoric and give people the facts there are a lot more sensible, decent people in this country than otherwise, give them a chance to prove it.

The referendum was part of the last General Election. It seems that we elected a government that said that they would hold a referendum on the issue. Of course we cannot have referendums on every issue, but when one is promised by one or more political parties at a General Election, then clearly we should have one. It is part of the system that we have. It certainly has precedents. Not least the first referendum on the EEC forty odd years ago. Once a generation seems fair enough to me.

ATB from George

I agree with those sentiments dayjay but I am less optimistic about a balanced and informed debate supporting the decision that each of us will make at the ballot box.  I think we has a foretaste of this with the Scottish Independence referendum, albeit on a much smaller scale.  It was only at the last knockings that the heavyweight politicians woke-up and started making the arguments in favour of retaining the Union and enough of the Scottish electorate saw the down-sides of leaving.  

Mike  

George Fredrik Fiske posted:

The referendum was part of the last General Election. It seems that we elected a government that said that they would hold a referendum on the issue. Of course we cannot have referendums on every issue, but when one is promised by one or more political parties at a General Election, then clearly we should have one. It is part of the system that we have. It certainly has precedents. Not least the first referendum on the EEC forty odd years ago. Once a generation seems fair enough to me.

ATB from George

Well, I certainly didn't vote for a bunch of old Etonian elitists, who are happy to destroy the state to an extent that even Thatcher baulked at. Britain is not a world power, and we get the international investment solely because we are a bridgehead to the wider Europe. To turn our backs on Europe is to make our faltering economy even worse. 

I cannot abide Cameron, but on his support for continuing membership of the EU he has my support. 

So much of the 'leave Europe' agenda is based on 'foreigners' taking our jobs, taking our houses and sponging on our benefits. It's small minded, island mentality, little Britain racism, and it's disgusting. 

dayjay posted:

Let us hope then that they have learned their lessons Mike because this will be an important decision 

Mightily important, especially for our children and their children. I will be casting my vote for their futures rather than mine.  But here's the irony: I have three adult children, all working, and none have the slightest interest in this important issue and probably won't vote.   Hence my fear that their futures will be decided by those who will vote in the referendum, many of which are motivated by some narrow-minded prejudices.

HH posted:

"I cannot abide Cameron, but on his support for continuing membership of the EU he has my support"

A viewpoint I largely support, although there are other members of Cameron's party for whom I reserve most of my distaste.

Unfortunately, a referendum on Europe was in the Conservative party manifesto simply because the party was terrified that growing support for UKIP would lose them the election. Certainly Cameron himself, and I believe the majority of his party, would be strongly opposed to an exit from the EU.

Unfortunately, I think that MDS is right to be concerned that the referendum will be skewed by individuals who are highly motivated and have narrow-minded prejudices. I hasten to add that many of those in favour of an exit will not fall into this category, and will have (for them) genuine and rational reasons (albeit misguided in my view) for wanting to exit. However, the most highly motivated to vote will be those with the narrow-minded prejudices. Unfortunately, their votes combined with a politically apathetic majority of people on the other side may just sway the outcome.   

MDS posted:
dayjay posted:

Let us hope then that they have learned their lessons Mike because this will be an important decision 

Mightily important, especially for our children and their children. I will be casting my vote for their futures rather than mine.  But here's the irony: I have three adult children, all working, and none have the slightest interest in this important issue and probably won't vote.   Hence my fear that their futures will be decided by those who will vote in the referendum, many of which are motivated by some narrow-minded prejudices.

This does sound like an argument against the democratic principle. But in reality the careless should have as much power to have a say as the solemn. Are the solemn [I am one] always right?

The evidence of history does not indicate that the solemn, nor the careless are more right than the other ...

Then it presents an opportunity to mobilise the silent majority, those who have decent, fair minded views, on either side of the fence, so that we see a triumph for democracy and not a disaster.  Let us see if our politicians and those who have influence in society are up to it.  In the Scottish debate I was surprised by how passionate and eloquent some of them were once the chips were down

Hungryhalibut posted:

Only a moron would vote to leave Europe and watch the economy collapse. There should be no referendum, it should be left to Parliament. But Cameron is terrified of his right wing, so we end up in a position where the uninformed, racist or both, could potentially do untold damage to the UK and our friends across the Channel. 

While this ridiculous charade unfolds, investment decisions will be delayed, the economy will falter and airtime will be given to those who want to turn back the clock fifty years. England for the English!! Or, hopefully, not.

 

+1

Indeed. A Brexit would cause damage on both sides of the Channel.

Which is exactly why having left the EU everything will carry on on a different but satisfactory course. Europe needs us far more than we need Europe in terms of giving up sovereignty. They can meet us on our terms having given Cameron the gigue in pointless face saving renegotiations. Germany is not going to stop buying what we make well, and we are not going to stop buying what Germany makes well ...

There will be changes, but nothing to fear.

An interesting post, especially for a non-Brit who grew up in West London.

I have vivid memories of queing up in front of the Polish Embassy on Portland Place to vote in a referendum. The referendum was about Poland joining the EU. I stood there, in the rain for 4 hours just to cast my YES vote.

For me that was the only obvious choice.

As for leaving the EU? Complete and utter madness. But what do I know...

Europe [except Poland and the UK] has been flat-lining economically for years. We have not flat lined - look at the employment figures.. They need us and will continue to trade. but like Australia we need, as an island nation, to control borders and our own rules.

 

It's all a bit scary as a Brit living in France.

Despite having paid (a lot of) tax here for the past nine years, I suspect it will become at the very least massively more bureaucratic for UK nationals living in the EU (of whom there are far more than vice-versa I believe). 

This is simply too multi-layered an issue to be put to a referendum that may well he decided by the (popularist) opinions of Murdoch and Dacre/Rothermere.

Whatever one's opinions on politics here, it seems as though Cameron has misplayed this. It was as much a sop to UKIP as it was to his own bachbenchers (whom he can control), and UKIP turned out to be the straw dog many people suspected they would be.

With the state of the oil price (upon which all of the SNP's economic prediction and assertions were based), the idea of a Scottish independence vote rerun are severely curtailed, and the likelihood of an even greater result in favour of keeping the union, even if the rest of the UK left the EU, increased. Sturgeon and Salmond both know this, so despite the anomalies and ammunition for a new Scottish referendum, that wouldn't happen any time soon.

The real problem is that everyone's partisan stance means it is difficult to gauge the financial benefits/costs of EU membership for the UK. I for one am not convinced that leaving will constitute a fiscal gain for the UK (the reverse probably) and even if it might, it's too much of a risk to take, as it certainly won't win us any friends.

We have little to gain and much to lose. But you can't quantity either...

Besides, my only option might be actually to become French, and that would mean having to unlearn how to drive including  having the ability to indicate in a car somehow surgically removed.

Adam Zielinski posted:

An interesting post, especially for a non-Brit who grew up in West London.

I have vivid memories of queing up in front of the Polish Embassy on Portland Place to vote in a referendum. The referendum was about Poland joining the EU. I stood there, in the rain for 4 hours just to cast my YES vote.

For me that was the only obvious choice.

As for leaving the EU? Complete and utter madness. But what do I know...

As a Pole, you would first and foremost be interested for Poland, not the UK unless you are a very rare case.  I have quite a few Polish friends in UK [I have been to Poland five times in the last ten years], and they all wonder if they should apply for a UK Passport. I told them yes! I like them very much.

But the reality is the UK has in the main had enough. 

ATB from George

Frenchnaim posted:

Not really sure about that...

Europe needs us far more than we need Europe

Dear Frenchnaim.

You quote me partially, which is by no means the actions of a Frenchman in the tradition of Voltaire.

I shall make no further comment on you post. 

Best wishes from George

winkyincanada posted:

Selfishness, fears and prejudice drive the debates in these matters. My own view is that overall good is seldom achieved by partitioning people into smaller tribes, tightening borders and erecting economic barriers.

Taking Winky's point, should Britain leave the EU,  I hope you all know that you will have a welcoming friend here in the US ready to lend economic and govermental support. Same goes for our close friends in Canada. 

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