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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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Bullshit Diary
I really don't know at this point how I'm going to vote in the EU Referendum. I am floating in the not-so-blue water between the two sides, waiting for one or both of them to throw me a lifeline in the form of great, evidence-based arguments. Hopefully that will happen over the next few months. (Meanwhile my daughter is fuming that the vote will take place just a couple of weeks before her 18th birthday, thus denying her a say.)

Meanwhile, there are already a lot of bullshit arguments floating about in these same waters, and since I don't yet know my own mind and so am not in a position to try persuading anyone, I thought the most useful thing I could do was to perform some turd triage by listing some of the arguments that won't do a thing to persuade me, either because they're non sequiturs, rely on emotional manipulation (usually attempts to scare people, or to appeal to some nebulous past or future utopia), or because they involve questionable premises. Here are some I've heard so far:

The existence of the EU is what has prevented a third European war in the past 70 years. (I think NATO and the Iron Curtain had rather more to do with it.)

Immigrants are coming en masse to claim benefits. (I've seen no evidence that this is happening on any significant scale. The free movement of people is one of the things most likely to make me vote for the EU, in fact.)

Britain has bad weather, which would be improved by continued EU membership. (I don't know if that's what Emma Thompson was trying to suggest, but it's the best I can do. Climate change may do the job anyway.)

The vote is to decide whether Britain stays part of Europe, and hence of European culture. (The EU and Europe are not the same thing.)

You don't want to vote the same way as [insert name of bogeyperson here], do you? (I have bogeypeople on both sides, though admittedly many more on the Leave side, but this is in any case a weird sort of ad hominem argument at one remove.)

We will definitely get favourable terms for trade with the EU should we leave. (I can see a number of reasons why this might not be the case. It's certainly not something we can be confident of.)

We will definitely get atrocious terms for trade with the EU should we leave. (See above.)

British Indian forces in the Second World War fought and died for "the European project". (Just no.)

This may be a continuing series...

The second of those seems potentially a very strong argument, along with the allied argument that the UK would in any case become a less attractive proposition for inward investment. I look forward seeing some scenarios explaining how this might or might not happen in detail, though. The counter-argument is that, as a much larger economy than (say) Norway, and one that the rest of Europe has a large trade surplus with, the UK would have a better bargaining position to negotiate its independence. On the other hand, I think resentment against the UK amongst the rest of the EU might be such that they would attempt to humiliate the UK even to their own immediate detriment, not least pour encourager les autres.

Bargaining strength in negotiating independence isn't what I was referring to. I mean that the UK, as a member of the EU, must abide by various EU regulations in its manufactures and trade policies, from using the metric system on up. This seems to rile a lot of people. If the UK withdrew, it'd be free of these rules. Except not really, because the EU would still require them for goods sold in the EU, so in practice UK firms doing business there would still have to abide by them, as how many would establish different product runs for the domestic and continental markets?

Yes, fair question. That would presumably be determined by market factors: i.e. whether buying milk in pints rather than litres was important enough to people to warrant paying some kind of premium for the extra trouble of packaging that way. I've really no idea how that would play out.