No facts & figures, just a gut reaction. That’s what this blog is about – and why I am voting Remain.
It’s easy to throw statistics around, but as Ebbe Skovdahl once said they are like miniskirts, stats are fine but it’s what’s beneath them that is interesting. Either side of this argument can “prove” their point by throwing a number at you but I think this debate and referendum are about more fundamental issues. It would also be easy to pick apart the hatred spouted by politicians on both sides (but mostly from Farage). Instead I want to take a more holistic approach to the issues.
Belonging to something bigger than ourselves is part of the human condition. We thrive as a species through the interaction and connections we make in life. Pushing towards a world without barriers and without prejudice is the Utopian dream we must want for our futures. Yes it’s easy to point out the differences between us all but perhaps if we took a minute to reflect on how similar we were, there would be more successes and strengths. I felt the same with the Scottish Referendum two years ago – I don’t want to build more walls separating us from each other, I want bridges to allow us to connect.
I joked yesterday that there should be an upper age limit in this vote of 80 as beyond that little would impact on them if the result was to leave – decisions can take up to ten years (look at Switzerland’s still unfinished trade deal nine years later). But the likelihood is that the older generations are making a decision that will impact on my generation and my children’s generations. I understand that the elders see the current model as something they didn’t vote for in the 1970s, but we have to move on from that and think about where our country, continent and world want to be in the future. The only way is to be in there and influencing decisions not sitting on the outside looking in, wondering why nothing is changing. I want my kids to live in peace and prosperity and I only see that as part of the wider world.
Another reason within the human condition is the nomadic nature we have. I have friends and family from the UK scattered across the planet and if you look at the figures for Brits abroad in general you have to realise that to remove yourself from the bigger picture you fly in the face of that adventurous spirit that we have. You can’t travel in the world without bumping into someone from home – literally from home as in within a few miles of you when you’re abroad. The work and live there in the same way we have others coming to this country to do the exact same.
Fear is another reason I can’t vote leave. I refuse to believe that being part of the bigger picture is dangerous, bringing terrorism, causing rifts. I know from my job as a teacher that removing ignorance on subjects opens minds – if we meet those who are different, welcome them to our communities and learn about them the stigmas will fall. There is no place for racism, xenophobia, prejudice in 21st Century Britain. I don’t want to be threatened with the idea of 508 million people being free to move, work and live across Europe – I want to be proud that we can do that. The impression we’re given of the migration is that they are all of one type and again from the mix of kids I teach I know this is wrong. I have Greek, Polish, Romanian, French, Italian, Spanish, Lithuanian, Nigerian, Iranian, Australian and Canadian pupils and each one is welcome. I, in turn, can go and live in Italy or Germany or Sweden as it’s an open door that goes both ways.
The main reason I want to Remain is that I don’t like the alternative. Living in a UK with small-minded, bigoted people who make us fear beyond our shores is not a country I want to live in. I want ambition, togetherness, opportunity, hope, expansion, integration, development; exchanges of ideas, cultures, knowledge, music, literature, art, food; values of honesty, decency, positivity and inclusion.
I want a Europe that helps and supports and defends and includes and we bring so much to that table – but so do our neighbours and we should learn and listen and engage to them to improve our own country within the world.
So tomorrow I’m voting remain for positive reasons. I’m not blind to the issues and obstacles the EU has – I just want to be in a position to improve it and shape it for the next generation.