28 May 2016

The EU Referendum Campaign Has Been Disgusting

When the date was set for the referendum, I think we all believed that we would take pointers from the Scottish referendum in 2014 and ensure that the campaign was exciting and got the entire nation involved. Unfortunately, since the designation of the official campaign groups, neither can hold their head up high. Both sides have been part of project fear; Leave with immigration and remain with economics.

As someone who is advocating a ‘lexit’ (left exit), I find it incredibly aggravating that the official leave campaign is focussing on immigration as the main reason to want to leave the European Union. I for one am happy with the current immigration numbers and if anything would like to see more immigration. It’s a controversial thing to suggest and I respect that I’m in the minority on this subject. The issue of immigration is used to blame them for the lack of housing, school places and problems within the NHS. However, these issues are not the fault of the EU or migrants. They are the fault of the British government. They haven't built enough houses (let alone ‘affordable’ ones) and then there are the failed housing projects such as ‘right to buy’ and ‘buy to let’ that are continuing to make the situation worse. If the government wasn't one of austerity and instead invested money into housing, schools and the NHS, these issues wouldn’t be so painful and migrants wouldn't be scapegoated. 

Many of the arguments the leave side use are so easily countered by remain. Our contributions to the EU for instance. Stop using the figure of £350m a week. The remain side see it coming, counter it by saying it’s incorrect because of the rebate and the still enormous £135m a week is somehow forgotten because leave have lost that talking point… Even when we remove the rebate, it’s still around £8b a year and will increase to around £11b next year. For some reason that’s okay… I don’t think it is. £8b a year could be invested into the NHS and attempt to fix the crisis. Another argument leave give that remain counter easily is using Norway or Switzerland as an example of life outside of the EU. Both Norway and Switzerland are inside the EEA which means they still have to accept all EU regulations, the four freedoms and are in the Schengen Area. Nobody thinks this would be a good idea for Britain. So, stop using them as examples! Use a country outside of the EU that still trades with Europe. Why can’t Britain be like Britain? Why does it have to look like another country? Though Norway and Switzerland are two of the most wealthy, liberal and happy countries in Europe, we can be better than them by being out of the EU and the EEA.

The remain campaign has done little to give an exciting argument to stay within the European Union. If playing on the fear of migration is bad, playing on the fears of another recession and a third world war is twice as bad. Both David Cameron and George Osborne have been scaremongering like there’s no tomorrow. And according to them, there won’t be a tomorrow if we leave. That’s funny because prior to Cameron’s renegotiation talks with the EU, he seemed to make the argument that if he didn't get what he wanted then he’d advocate for a brexit. Now all of a sudden, if we leave there’ll be a two year recession, world war three and a black hole of around £30b in government spending. Focusing on the negative economic aspects of leaving the EU is completely invalid. They don’t know what life outside of the EU will look like. To many that’s scary and remain know this. But to me, the risk is worth it as the only non-subjective argument in this entire debate is democracy. I’ll continue to advocate for a brexit even if there’ll be another recession because I want to live in a fully democratic country. 

The argument against this by the remain camp is that the figure for the number British of laws made in the EU is more like 11 per cent instead of the believed 63 per cent. However, independent researchers believe it’s somewhere between 17 and 50 per cent… Even if 5 per cent of British laws are made in the EU, I’d still want to leave. 100 per cent of British laws should be made in Britain. It’s as simple as that. Arguing that it’s only 11 per cent is as irrelevant as the contributions argument. 

Though I’m still going to watch every debate and see what each campaigner has to say in interviews, my interest in listening to what they really have to say has dropped dramatically. I can say this was mainly down to the first BBC debate the other day. The leave camp performed awfully, the counter arguments by remain were simple and there was no mention of democracy at all. What’s worse is that the campaign has become a Tory leadership battle between Boris, Gove, Cameron and Osborne. Don’t get me wrong, I like to see Tory infighting but it’s overshadowing the entire campaign. Compared to the Scottish referendum, we should be ashamed of ourselves. Turnout will be less than the 2015 general election and much less than the Scottish referedum. The future of our country could be decided by half of the eligible population because they have been disenfranchised by the entire process. There are still many people who are undecided and angry because they can’t make an informed decision. 

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