Wednesday, 1 June 2016

A Brexiteer Writes...

I don’t know whether this is a symptom of entering Curmudgeon-hood but I’ve noticed more and more going to vote and participating in the phenomenon of ‘voting while holding your nose’.  Essentially voting for the least worst option, even if you don’t agree with that least worst option.  So far, I’ve done this twice – the Independence Referendum and the 2010 General Election.  Judging by the utter clusterfeck that is the current ‘Leave’ campaign in the ongoing European Referendum those two choices pale into insignificance compared to voting with the most overtly racist and correct fact-less campaign…  well, since the Tories & UKIP battled to reach the lowest common denominator last year.

And there's way too much of this... chap... too.
My own reasons were outlined a couple of months ago – essentially the EU has become less transparent, less accountable and is in danger of becoming this century’s League of Nations.  It should be easy to fashion a campaign around the EU’s failures and around the tagline “Who do you want to govern the UK?”.  Instead, the Leave campaign has descended into a grim campaign where only one issue is only really relevant. Immigration.

As has been pointed out before, UKIP’s deliberate conflation of Immigration (which we still control for people coming from non-EU countries) and Freedom of Movement (within EU countries) is disingenuous and outright racist – painting Bulgarians and Romanians as thieves and gangsters.  How dare those people come across here, we’ve got plenty of home grown crims…  For the Leave campaign to adopt the same UKIP styling’s after working so hard to marginalize the pound shop Mosley shows a form of desperation and a lack of imagination.

It is not just those Eastern European countries that are already within the EU that have attracted the focus of the less imaginative of the Brexiteers.  The application of Turkey to join the club has become a lightning rod for those looking to stir the pot.  We would, if those Brexiteers are to be believed, be at the mercy of more criminal and terrorist gangs.  There is one small problem with their argument, apart from the most obvious one about not all Turks being villains straight out of Hollywood casting.  Their leader Erdogan is not…  shall we say… exactly on the same page as the west & the EU in terms of their dealings with Daesh.  It is therefore not that likely…  at the moment… that that application from Turkey to join the EU will be successful.

Alongside the constant mention of the £350m figure, which has been shown to be false, immigration is the issue which is providing the most self inflicted wounds on the Leave campaign, certainly up here in Scotland.  It is somewhat timely perhaps that the Government have shot themselves in the foot over the handling of the Brain family.  The reaction, certainly in the media has shown a sharp dividing line between a community orientated Scottish sensibility and Westminster’s own denial act about the existence of ‘Society’.  If our public services are stretched to breaking point, and there is a crisis in housing, then who’s fault is that then that we have had governments committed to either providing public services on the cheap or have cut back on those services.

One of the things I’ve always said about UKIP is pertinent here, that to win votes here in Scotland they’d have to change their message.  The Leave campaigners, to pick up votes here, really need to dial down the racist rhetoric and push the undemocratic nature of the EU.  If elections are seen to be referendums on parties and individuals, then why isn’t this referendum seeing the figures of Jean Claude Junker, Donald Tusk and Martin Schultz at the front and centre of its campaign, especially from the Leave camp?

These are the figures that lead the main European institutions, yet we’ve never voted for them.  We’ve never voted for their policies or direction of travel. Yet these figures are largely anonymous throughout a campaign where we should be asked to judge their performances.

Arguably the pro-Independence campaign two years ago was undermined by their arguments being over complicated.  A campaign built around the simple idea of Scottish People running Scotland should have been much more the centrepiece.  Like that campaign, the Brexiteers are falling into the trap of fighting the status quo with a campaign designed to fight (and fail) on ‘Remains’ favoured battleground.  The thinking that Immigration is the trump card to win them the referendum is a flawed idea.  Immigration is not the issue here that it is in parts of England and as a result the referendum could be decided here in Scotland.

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