Final reflections on the EU referendum

So today is the day! People go to the polls with high expectations of what might happen over the coming days and weeks. Many believe that today they will have the chance to put an 'X' in the leave box and that if there is a stampede of people with similar thinking we will exit the EU. Those making their mark in the remain box will feel vindicated that all their name calling 'useful idiots' etc. will have been worthwhile.

What has transpired sadly is that friends have almost come to blows over a difference of opinion on this. Relationships have been thrown into turmoil as irreconcilable differences have emerged between people over this EU debate. Old wounds on racism and undercurrents of non 'Politically correct' thinking have been brought to the surface. Some will argue that this has been hugely damaging and others would suggest, well at least we're seeing who people really are and what they stand for... long missing in politics since the days of people like Michael Foot and Ted Heath.

So we have been divided. Another example of bringing about great controversy and a huge expectation that we have a 'biggest in our lifetime' chance to take into our own hands this democracy thing and make a difference.

You will be disappointed, sadly. This game on the EU has not been fair. First and foremost, we won't be deciding anything. There is no legal position on this referendum... it is nothing short of an expensive opinion poll. It is just a view of the mood of the nation. The result of the opinion poll will unsurprisingly be very close. In my discussions with people, it is pretty 50-50 out there.

The arguments for and against are so complex most people have formed their view on what they think is fair and reasonable and that aligns with their original thinking. Confirmation bias if you like. If a point aligns with their thinking they feel attached to it, if not, disinclined to listen or agree. So the whole exercise has been one of polarisation.

What happens in politics is that the safest ground is to do nothing. As we all know possession is 90% of the law. We are in the EU we can't be out of Europe due to our physical location with it. In the same way that we must be part of our own community if we are alive and breathing. How much we participate however is up to us.

I remember listening to our MP Richard Harrington explain that he had been asked by Parliament to construct a bill to change something that needed sorting, a privilege afforded a select few MP's every year. An absolute no brainer of a bill, took a couple of years at huge expense (£ millions) and could have been dealt with a competent high street solicitor in a few hours. Those believing we can change Europe 'significantly' will be long in the grave before this happens.

Yes... I am afraid that pretty much everyone is going to be disappointed with the outcome of this referendum which was not designed to help any of us 'the people'. We must look beyond the divisive surface battles to observe what and who benefits most from this very expensive exercise, which has only served to unsettle, and take us in the wrong direction away from unity and collaboration.

What has been most disturbing in all of the debate however is the lack of a sanity check on the state of the EU. I have heard the arguments about trade, investment, jobs, business, ability to negotiate en-mass and finance etc. and yet we know that the global economy is in turmoil. Actually the EU is broke, with many of the countries on the brink of financial ruin. Irrespective of whether 'we' vote to stay or go. There are so many critical weaknesses in the whole project that it is going to end in tears anyway. Ironically we will be out of the EU (in its current incarnation) whether we like it or not. As a major population centre in Europe however we will be needed in whatever happens next to ensure some stability is continued during this transitional time.

To remain in the EU is the safest (lowest cost) no change (pain) option (in my opinion it is the only possible outcome). This requires no investment, no expenditure and everyone goes back to work this Friday and carries on (the civil servants will breath a deep sigh of relief). Yes the debate rumbles on. Yes there will have been such a large percentage of the population voting for out it will require many more sessions in parliament.

To exit from the EU quite frankly is virtually impossible at this moment. We just don't have enough resources either manpower or money to do it. But perversely every 'out' vote almost improves our negotiating position with Europe.

So, what will happen after today?

The likelihood is that the votes will be pretty close. This will ensure that David Cameron's campaign is seen as having failed and will exit. Turmoil in the ranks of the conservatives with potentially a Boris appointment or maybe even the quiet rudder of Theresa May. Boris would bring all the 'out-ees' with him as he is their big voice, and as we stayed in, the 'Inners' would feel pretty good that they got their way... so Boris get's his way, big win. But hang on that's a swing further to the right isn't it? ... not so good... or the way I see it. To take us in the direction of more inequality and lunacy more quickly is to get to the point we need to get faster... After the last election many of my Green friends argued they were happy in a perverse way that Cameron won as it would bring about change faster, I agreed with them. We need change at the grass roots level... huge inequality equals higher propensity for change.

There will be a need for parliament to do a post mortem and then how will we renegotiate with the EU in the light of this referendum?

Ok we have decided to stay in. We were frightened to leave and be on our own (never really an option, but the one used as a reason to stay by the remainers). So not really a strong negotiating position in Europe is it? Not really a strong position to bring about 'Another Europe is Possible'. Well Britain you're not even that sure you wanted to stay... but ok... I guess you can 'join in'.

The concessions in Europe will probably come from immigration being the single biggest 'reported' issue and reason for exit allegedly (according to the papers). That way the British government can placate vast swathes of people who have been sold that this is the main issue by the popular tabloids.

What has really changed then?

A few different people at the head of politics in this country will have changed. A neat opportunity to exit Cameron over the EU referendum not over the state he has left the country (see what they did there?). Our country will have weakened its position in Europe. We have created mass disharmony in this country.

An Opportunity to wake up

We can however realise that for those hoping to create change to a fairer society aren't going to realise this dream using conventional politics and democracy. That's because we aren't in a democratic world. We are in a world which suits the 1% and enslaves the rest of us. Voting for which flavour of slavery you want isn't really an option is it? ... so it comes down once more to two things...

  1. Taking personal responsibility and being the difference you want to see
  2. Focus on people and relationships.
When the financial markets crash once more (and they will). When savings and investments are worthless... what will you have? People... those around you that either will help you or whom you can help. This is the level at which change is needed. This is the level at which people can make a difference. This is the level at which we need to be voting.

Change will never come from the highest levels of politics, finance or business. That would be like turkeys voting for Christmas. They have no reason to change anything, and I am completely gobsmacked at how many people still believe that change can come from this direction.

If we want change, we have to all do our bit, on the ground, in our village, town or city and work together as a collaborative unit with structure... when we finally get this... then we can bring about a different world... one we want... not a selection from the scraps of the so called 'elites' table.


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