Thursday, 7 July 2016

The UK needs to make an informed choice

Timothy Garton Ash wrote in The Guardian, Saturday 25th June, under A Farewell to Europe. He stated the beginnings of the EU and some of its current issues go back a long way. In 1989 the Berlin wall came down. ‘As their price for supporting German unification France and Italy pinned Germany down to a timetable for an overhasty, ill-designed and overextended European monetary union. As a result of their liberation from Soviet communist control, many poorer countries in eastern Europe were set on a path to EU membership, including its core freedom of movement. And 1989 opened the door to globalisation, with spectacular winners and numerous losers.’ Back to the workers living in social housing in my earlier post.

Ash commented further: ‘The eastward enlargement of the EU in 2004 was followed by a large westward movement of people and … 2 million of them came to Britain. …pressures on public services – and on housing stock in a country that for decades has built far too few homes – have been felt acutely by the less well-off… Their concerns are widespread…Unfortunately populist xenophobes such as Nigel Farage exploit these emotions, linking them to subterranean English nationalism.’

Where is Farage now? Living off the earnings of his German-born wife now he’s stood down as leader of Ukip? He’s helped bring the country out of the EU and he’s gone very, very quiet. He isn’t the only one demonstrating far-right views. Marine Le Pen speaks a similar language in France, Geert Wilders, Dutch politician and leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom, wants Turkey to remain outside the EU. He tried to work with Le Pen, right-winger Strache, for the Austrian Freedom Party, Salvini, heading up Italy’s Lega Nord – The Northern League, and Gerolf Annemans of  Belgium’s Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest). The notion was to form their own parliamentary group in the European Parliament. The Greek Golden Dawn and Poland’s Congress Party were not included so no new party was formed. Now, in the USA, we have Trump showing his true hand. I will not repeat his vicious attack on a variety of peoples but in the view of Ash: Wilders, Le Pen et al are ‘…trumpery European-style’.

Back to the effects on Britain. Farage is a millionaire. Having brought us out of the EU I am sure he won’t suffer personally. As Ash writes ‘We will pay the economic price for years to come. The costs will probably fall especially hard on the less well-off who voted for Brexit.’ And why did we have to have a referendum? Jeanette Winterson writing in The Guardian, also June 25th, ‘What did surprise me was that Cameron and Osborne would risk the first full-power Tory government in decades on a gamble with an unelected cartoon character from a time-warp. Nigel Farage is ridiculous. But he has won. There was no need for a referendum. What was needed was a firm cross-party consensus explaining why the EU is not the problem facing Britain.’ 

As people having been moving since the fall of the Berlin Wall we have had migrant workers in Britain for many years. We rely on them. What we haven’t had is reasonably-priced housing, council housing to replace those sold off under Thatcher and proper funding for the NHS and state education. It seems to me the choice made by 52% of the voting population to leave the EU was a bad one. But where were the facts? Who knew what they were voting against? Voting against a lack of good, affordable housing and employment opportunities should be aimed at a British elite. Not the EU. 

We may actually have more immigration, not less, now that France is suggesting we roll back the borders from Calais. We may become a much smaller economy, especially if Scotland votes to leave the UK.  As Polly Toynbee wrote in the same edition of The Guardian ‘Soon those leave voters will find they were swindled. The foreigners will still be there. No new homes, hospital appointments or nursery places freed up by a migrant exodus.’
‘…Future US presidents will fly over us to the EU.’ Toynbee puts the blame squarely at Cameron’s feet and echoes Winterson’s surprise at Cameron and Osborne’s stance. ‘But in the end it was (Cameron’s) government’s relentless small-state austerity that tilled the ground for popular rebellion… He closed the Sure Starts, libraries, leisure centres and day centres that once held communities together. He accelerated right-to-buy so close-knit estates lost a third of flats, sold off to private landlords to fill with exploited migrant men. He is slicing away the lifeline of tax credits.’

And we have come out of the EU because of this? I doubt the EU made the decision for all the above closures, the rise of private landlords and abandoning the tax credit system.
As I write Farage is no longer on our screens, Cameron has resigned and Osborne isn’t on the ballot papers for the Conservative party leadership. Boris Johnson was speaking in the House of Commons only hours ago stating that migrant workers were welcome. Yet two weeks ago he was fighting to leave the EU, won, and at the same time lost. To Michael Gove.  

One chink of light in this shocking, confusing fall-out is that should Theresa May become our next PM she has said she wants a Britain for all strata of society not just for the elite. Let’s hope she is our next leader. I don’t vote conservative but she is the most sensible choice and as a country we need to start making sensible choices again. First inform the people so they can make an informed choice!

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