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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...

It's a very reasonable question, and beyond a general appeal to the attitude that "we will nothing pay for wearing our own noses" I've not seen many detailed answers, yet - except in matters of immigration, where I've no sympathy with the Leave people. There are (relatively) small matters, such as getting out of the Common Fisheries Policy, for example, which has unarguably been bad for the British fleet, and I'm sure such examples could be multiplied. But mostly it's been quite emotive (as have the calls to stay). To get a sense of it, perhaps try imagining that NAFTA had gradually morphed into the basis of a proto-North-America-wide state, and imagine how that would play in Indiana.

As a matter of fact, I'll be very surprised if the UK votes to leave: their record in referenda has been pretty uniformly in favour of inertia. But I've been wrong before - often.

I fervently hope that inertia wins. A lot of the "red tape" that small to medium sized businesses complain about is often actually legislation regarding things like working hours, holiday entitlement, maternity/paternity leave, sick pay and so on and so forth. The regions also do well out of EU funding for projects that I'm very doubtful that Westminster would fund (despite lavishing billions on London), and FE and adult education in particular does well out of EU funding. Many courses would disappear without EU support.

Yes, those are all good arguments, I think.

As someone in the North East, I feel the same way. We get £3 for every £1 we give to Europe.

Interesting, from over here, all of the anti-EU arguments I've seen reported are from anti-immigrant UKIP folk, whose positions I also have no sympathy with.

The concentration on immigration really only dates from around ten years ago, if that. Before, Eurosceptic arguments had a very different cast.

Huh, now that I think of it, I've never heard any of these arguments. I remember arguments about the UK not going on the Euro (which in retrospect have proven to be astoundingly well founded), but not against EU membership, such is the US press dealing with issues in other nations.