Sunday, 28 February 2016

An open letter to Remain voters

Dear Remain voter,

By now you've had a good look at the Leave camps and their arguments. You will have concluded that for the most part they are godawful people with dreadful ideas and a slim grasp on reality. Lucky for all of us, this isn't an election and after the vote, if Leave wins, these people won't be in charge - so a lot of what they say is completely irrelevant.

That said, I trust that you are not going to vote to remain on the basis of the politicians involved. This is a referendum where yours and my vote matters as much as theirs. And if you're honest you've got some idiotic specimens speaking for your side too. You can't honestly expect me to believe you think Chuka Umunna is a serious person? No. Of course not.

So we have to rise above this, ignore the media and the politicians and the crap they spout and look at the facts. What we can say with absolute certainty is that we are not going to get facts from either campaign and it's going to be a torrent of interminable bullshit right through to June.

I don't believe Brexit will cause the apocalypse any more than you believe we're going to have £933.17 back in our wallets and a spending bonanza on teachers and nurses. Unlike them, we both live on planet Earth. And it may surprise you to think that it's not just your side who thinks Nigel Farage is a "goggle-eyed cock goblin", or that Boris Johnson is a pompous, lazy, self-serving buffoon.

What matters is what we can deduce for ourselves on the basis of what is in front of us. What we know for a fact is that the EU is a dysfunctional bureaucratic mess that struggles to call itself a democracy. Many on your side point this out, and the main reason they want to stay is that our side can't offer a better idea that bears any relation to reality - and can't guarantee we can achieve it. In this, I don't blame you. You've taken one look at the complexities involved and thought "bollocks to that".

The rest of you believe that because the Leave side are swivel eyed dinosauric little-Englander losers, that wanting to remain in the EU means the opposite - which by virtue makes you an internationalist progressive - exactly as you see yourself.

But that's not true. The world is seldom ever binary like that. What if I told you that the EU was Kipperism writ large? After all it is erecting massive fences in Hungary, it's obsessed with controlling immigration, it puts up all kinds of protectionist barriers and it spends half its diplomatic runtime look for ways to close off avenues in.

Now I'm not going to spend the rest of this letter badmouthing the EU, because you've heard it all before, and if you're honest, you know most of it is absolutely true, but you're still going to vote to remain on the basis that there is, to your mind, no other option. Personally I think that's a cop out.

The point I wish to convey to you is one of a different nature though. I challenge you to go and look at Hansard and dig out some of the parliamentary debates from 1975, and also 1992. Have a look at some of the media archives and Youtube.

The first thing you notice is that the people change but the same tired, dogmatic arguments do not. We have had vote after vote, and row after row and still we don't seem to be able to resolve this. And when the Leave side inevitably screws up this referendum, we will have more of the same, for decades, until we have yet another referendum.

In short, your children will have to suffer the same interminably beige politics we have for all of our adult lives. Do you really wish that upon them? If so you are even more of a complete bastard than me.

The fact is, the EU is thorn in the paw of Britain and it doesn't sit right with our national ego to be ruled by a supreme government for Europe. It was assumed as the old boys shuffled loose of the mortal coil that this resistance to le grande project would die off. It hasn't. It has passed like a torch to the next generation. It will never die. So really we have to find some way to accommodate these people so they will shut up and go away and let us get on with something else in politics.

That's where Brexit comes in. Like I said earlier, the scare stories about Brexit are nonsense, and so leaving the EU is actually safe. And here's why. Our government, and in fact any government handling the negotiations, will not want to leave the EU. Consequently, what they agree on will likely be as close to being EU membership as possible without actually being in the EU.

That is going to resemble something a lot like the so-called Norway EEA/Efta model. It won't touch on freedom of movement to the annoyance of kippers, but the government will likely say "tough, this wasn't a referendum on freedom of movement". It's worth voting out just to watch the kipper outrage.

Now I know what you're going to say. Norway has no say and we still pay. I may surprise you here by saying so what? Go and look at a Youtube of MEPs in action. For the last few years we've been lampooning Ukip MEPs for being thick as a whale omelette, but go and have a closer look at the others.

Pay close attention and you will see that Kippers are not all that far removed from the norm, Do you honestly believe these people sat in the Hemicycle, pushing buttons when various lights go off, have the first idea what they are voting for - or what its effects will be - when just a few hundred of these morons are making decisions for half a billion people? Do you really think they add a critical layer of scrutiny and protection? If so, stay right there, I have a bridge to sell you.

This idea that being in the EU somehow means we have influence is a long standing joke, not least among MEPs not suffering from delusions of adequacy. People criticise Ukip MEPs for not turning up, when when you look at how utterly futile it is, I can't say I would honestly bother either. No amount of reform or tinkering with the process is ever going to make the parliament relevant or democratic.

More to the point, I am keen to remind voters that the EU employs fewer people directly than the BBC. There is no possible way it could come up with sophisticated industry regulations as diverse as marketing standards for cabbages through to pollutant levels in container ship ballast water. And that's because they don't.

The EU doesn't make the substance of these laws and adopts them from global conventions and international super-regulators - so in or out of the EU we end up accepting them as they are and we will increasingly find, to avoid deviation from the global standard, MEPs won't be allowed to amend them in any meaningful way. Regulation is increasingly globalised and the EU is increasingly irrelevant to that process.

So my point is really this... who gives a tinker's damn if we send a bunch of mouth-breathers from the shires over to Strasbourg to push buttons that wave through masses of regulation they couldn't even begin to understand? As to having to pay into the budget, that's inevitable. What we can say is that we'll pay a bit less. Who cares? We need regulation, devising it is based on research and that won't come for free.

As to joint cooperation programmes, we will still participate and by way of being the world's fifth largest economy, we will still be consulted. We have clout in our own right so long as we keep paying. Money talks.

What we get for our trouble is Britain enjoying more or less the same good relations with the EU on slightly different terms. There are pitfalls to this approach but freedom to trade according to our own needs is a good way of offsetting them. On balance, it's going to be ok. From there, we'll have a few more freedoms and more control over fishing and agriculture and I can't for the life of me see why you might think that's a bad thing given what the CFP did to our fishing grounds with no real prospect of reform.

I don't see that we have that much to lose. Not that much is going to change so there is no real commercial advantage in businesses quitting Britain - and they know it. What we do gain is a clean slate in our relationship with Europe, and a change to put this horribly tedious debate to bed once and for all.

Best of all, it means no more Ukip. Sure, they will find something else to whinge about and they will never stop banging on about foreigners, but having thrown them a bone of leaving the EU, we can rightly tell them to shut the hell up. They got what they were set up for and if they didn't like the result then they should have drafted a vision and a plan before pushing for a referendum.

I won't pretend it's not without risk, but the default option is safe enough and it presents us a with a lot of new opportunities. That's really what will make us outward looking and enterprising. We won't have the option not to be. It will be a rebirth of multilateralism and possibly even democracy. If we are back in control of critical policy areas then we will need better politicians than Gove and Umunna, and maybe the public will start taking their votes seriously enough to elect competent people.

It's a long shot I know, but if you vote to remain, what you are saying is you can cope with decades more of the status quo - with these vacuous wastrels filling the airwaves and column inches with there their monotonous drivel. Don't you long for some real political change? Brexit would at the very least give us that elusive "new politics" we have been chasing for the last decade or so.

Voting to leave may throw up challenges and uncertainties, but it's challenges and uncertainties that make life worth living. It's what brings our lives meaning. The fact that we have eradicated both from politics means we can only expect Westminster politics to remain as empty as it is.

I say let's chuck out these tired old arguments and make way for something new. The EU issue is a bed blocker to advancing politics onto subjects which could manifestly improve our wealth, health and human experience. Thus far, the only thing this Brexit debate has enhanced is my ability to spell Chuka Umunna's name. How depressing is that?

If you vote to Remain in the EU, you are voting for certainty. You are voting for the certainty of identical politics for the next forty years and another tedious referendum. You are voting to bore us all into extinction. If that really is your intent, please let me know now so I can stop wasting my time and put a bullet in my brain - or see if I can get a Canadian visa. If this is the politics you really want to condemn us to for the remainder of our natural lives then you are welcome to it. I'm checking out. I can take no more.

Yours sincerely,

Complete Bastard.

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