Way back, before mobiles, tablets, games consoles and even PC’s, in 1975 the UK had a referendum:
Do you think that the United Kingdom should remain part of the European Community (the Common Market)?
I campaigned with all the vim, verve, vitality and animal cunning of a red admiral (butterfly, that is) for a NO vote.
As a young man whose brains had slipped below the belt line, it was important to identify with the “Left”. They had by far the most attractive women. The other side’s ladies all had the sexual attraction of a Margaret Thatcher with a broken leg.. I had also discovered that a few choice Ho Chi Min quotations slipped into the pub’s obligatory political conversation would almost guarantee they wouldn’t be the only thing slipping inside that night – nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
Physically identifying with the “Left” was imperative. A red scarf or Lenin badge on the collar of the denim shirt, or a red star on your Che Guevara beret, was about the only way you could push your way through to get served in the Uni bar.
I did a lot of posturing for the NO side that year.
However, when the voting booth curtain was drawn so that even my latest squeeze could not see – I voted YES.
First, I had always wanted to work in a foreign land. To learn a new language, new customs. An adventure-lust that I did satisfy: 30 years of work in Denmark, Danish (plus Swedish and Norwegian) earning a Danish pension with a view of Holbæk fjord from my window.
The other reason (which never happened) was less selfish. I have always been a huge supporter of organised labour. How someone could believe their job, its conditions and pay, had any form of security without being a member of the relevant Trade Union, has always been beyond me.
I imagined the formation of a European Union of Miners; a European Union of Nurses; a European Union of Sanitation Workers etc. Just imagine the power the threat of a strike by the EUSW would have.
Alas my multi-cultured adventurism had clouded me to the obvious endemic xenophobia of the majority of Trade Unionists. In all European countries, not just the UK.
Although, now I look back, this advanced mistrust of “foreign” as so often expressed in the UK (Enoch Powell lived just down the road) was probably just as much a stimulus to my leaving HMUK as was my curiosity for Danish girls and Carlsberg.
So what (according to the Independent) have been the gains from membership of the EC – now EU?
1. It gives you freedom to live, work and retire anywhere in Europe
As a member of the EU, UK citizens benefit from freedom of movement across the continent. Considered one of the so-called four pillars of the European Union, this freedom allows all EU citizens to live, work and travel in other member states.
The pillar I lean on. As does organised crime.
2. It sustains millions of jobs.
A report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, released in October 2015, SUGGESTED 3.1 million British jobs were linked to the UK’s exports to the EU.
How many jobs have been lost due to resourcing into other EU countries.? Or shipped out of the EU altogether, disguised within EU trade agreements with eg India, Thailand or China?
3. Your holiday is much easier – and safer.
Freedom to travel is one of the most exercised benefits of EU membership, with Britons having made 31 million visits to the EU in 2014 alone. But a lot of the benefits of being an EU citizen are either taken for granted or go unnoticed.
This Schengen Agreement (and the EU lands who did not sign up) demonstrate the lie. As does the border checks as a result of refugee hysterics. This is not to mention the indignity of airport security examinations (not attributed to the EU, but certainly not alleviated by it).
4. It means you’re less likely to get ripped off.
Consumer protection is a key benefit of the EU’s single market, and ensures members of the British public receive equal consumer rights when shopping anywhere in Europe.
This assumption ignore the fact that in many EU countries the consumer protection laws (plus methods of payments) are far more advanced and sophisticated than the UK’s.
5. It offers greater protection from terrorists, paedophiles, people traffickers and cyber-crime.
Another example of a lesser-known advantage of EU membership is the benefit of cross-country coordination and cooperation in the fight against crime.
Why is it that we have had so many violently tragic examples of the lack of cross-country coordination and cooperation in the fight against crime? The bad guys move about just as freely as the good guys. How many time have we heard – in the last 12 months – “but he was not on our terrorist radar”.
6. Our businesses DEPEND on it.
According to 71% of all members of the Confederation of British Influence (CBI), and 67 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the EU has had an overall positive impact on their business.
In other words, our businesses are so weak in their construction and ability to make money, they have to rely on handouts from the EU. To the extent that they are DEPENDENT.
7. We have greater influence.
Robin Niblett, Director of think-tank Chatham House, stated in a report published last year: “For a mid-sized country like the UK, which will never again be economically dominant either globally or regionally, and whose diplomatic and military resources are declining in relative terms, being a major player in a strong regional institution can offer a critical lever for international influence.”
Influence over what? That EU laws would not be against our interests? This would be irrelevant if we were not a member. Influence over restrictions on UK’s arms industry to sell outside the EU? There are no restrictions. Influence over foreign policy? The UK has its own foreign policy. The EU has a fictitious foreign policy with no sovereignty in any of its states.
Or – and this is my strongest objection to the EU – influence over the secret club whose national allegiances lie somewhere between their mother tongue and the Cayman Islands? This club disguised as EU potentates who were willing – and still willing – to grind a fellow member of the EU (Greece) into the dirt. Disdaining EU solidarity for the safety of their dollars hidden in “secrecy jurisdictions” – read tax-havens – around the world.
Anything that would divide the UNION OF HIDDEN CAPITAL can only be a good thing.