eu

Originally posted to Facebook, 26th June, 2016. Edited for clarity.

I was asked:

What are examples of things that the EU have control over that you don’t like? When you say, “we get considerable sovereignty back over stuff that I think is important”, do you have examples of things ? Like, I don’t think I count pressure to join the single currency because we’re pretty good at pushing back.

So, I generally disapprove strongly in principle of the whole system of decision-making on a European level. I don’t know the exact history of how it came about or whether it was intentional, but we ended up with is a system that has a floating layer of Eurocrats making policy who are totally untouchable by the people they’re ruling over, supported by elected governments whose individual voting power is sufficiently diluted that very few of them have any real control over what is happening, and both elected and unelected politicians then blame each other for stuff that people don’t like, preventing anyone from ever being held accountable for any of it.

So I don’t like that as a matter of principle, but if you want specific examples of things I don’t like that either affected us directly or we collaborated in, off the top of my head:

* I was really pissed off in 2005 when the EU Constitution was rejected by the French and the Dutch and they responded by amending all of the existing treaties and bringing most of its provisions despite the vote. We just ratified it without comment.

* In 2008 when the Irish rejected the Lisbon Treaty, I was really annoyed that they immediately ran a second referendum which won because the No campaign has spent all of its money on the first one and the Irish government put up a shit ton of money to crush the opposition. Again, we just ratified it without comment.

* In the 2011 Greek referendum debacle, Prime Minister George Papandreou insisted that the terms of the ECB bailout should be put to the Greek people given how insanely harsh they were, and political pressure was put on him by EU leaders until he cancelled the referendum and just legislated the bailout in the face of mass public opposition.

* In the 2015 Greek referendum debacle, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called a referendum on the terms of the bailout and won a rejection of it by 2-1. In return, Merkel, Hollande and Schauble summoned him to a room and proceeded to harangue him for over four hours over all the terrible things they would do to his country until he finally caved and pushed through the bailout is the face of mass opposition and by this time increasing poverty and hunger of the Greek people.

* I really, really dislike that we have a European President. I dislike the fact that the office exists at all given it was rejected in the EU Constitution of 2005 by the French and the Dutch. I really dislike the fact that that office is filled exclusively by former EU Prime Ministers, and I hate that Presidents are selected through quiet conversations and lobbying behind closed doors dinners of the EU heads of state.

* Until the eurozone crash of 2008 and the migrant crisis distracted them, people were starting to talk quite seriously of establishing a foreign affairs minister to speak on behalf of the entire EU on foreign affairs, and establishing a European Army to promote peace-keeping missions. I think centralising either of these areas would inevitably lead to imperialist interventions in other people’s countries and quite possibly war with Russia (imagine if they had had such a force when Putin walked into the Ukraine last year).

* Generally there is no way of publicly protesting European policies, because the institutions that form it are deliberately split up all over the continent and are hard to get to. When I wanted to demonstrate against the proposed intervention in Syria in December, I caught a tube to outside Parliament and we shouted loud enough that we were heard inside the chamber. If I want to protest some piece of European legislation, I first have to find out what byzantine institution is discussing it, then I have to fly to another country, find that building, and then tell a whole bunch of Eurocrats who are wholly unused to public opposition and have sent security guards to shoo away anyone who does turn up what I think of them.

This is not democracy and the reason I have always laughed when people talk about “reforming” it is because the only reforms ever proposed have been in exactly the wrong direction.

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I had a much, much longer blogpost that was going to rebut the main arguments of both the Leave and Remain campaigns and make my own case for why we should vote Leave on grounds of democracy, but technical problems got in the way and it was never finished to the standard that would have let me get it out before the vote on the UK’s membership of the European Union today. Sometimes the moment is simply lost. All I can do is hope that next time there’s a massive national argument on immigration some of it might see the light of day.

But there are some things that I cannot let pass without comment, and that is the disgusting use of boogeypeople to try to frighten people into voting Remain, which I find an appalling tactic reverted to by even activists and friends that I (used to) admire. Boris Johnson is voting Leave: do you want to be on the side of Boris Johnson? Or Nigel Farage? Or THERESA MAY?! This point is emphasised by helpfully misleading memes like this one:

brexit meme

 

They’re misleading because they never mention all the equally appalling people on the other side. Have you forgotten the Remain campaign is headed by, the Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and his Chancellor, George Osborne, the original architects of austerity?

Voting Remain is literally supporting the leadership of the Conservative Party in this country.

The leadership that tried to push through cuts on benefits for disabled people so severe that *Iain Duncan Smith* resigned in protest.

Funny how it doesn’t get put like that.

Also on the Remain side, but barely worth a meme:

* Every major banker, whose opinions prior to this referendum were considered to be automatically worthless by most lefties now fervently citing them;

* Tony Blair, a war criminal who laid most of the foundations of the privatisation tsunami befalling us today;

* The royal family, who would of course favour a political settlement that prefers quiet letter-writing to someone who knows someone over democratic accountability;

* And Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May. Are you *really* a feminist if you’re voting with them? (That’s a joke. Mostly.)

Want to vote with those people? Many would be as horrified as they would be to vote ‘for Boris’, but many will do it anyway because it doesn’t matter who else is on your side if that’s the side you believe should win. But that won’t stop the same people furiously trying to deter the other side with such baseless, emotional rhetoric.

The country is split down the middle. You will find odious bedfellows whichever side you choose because it turns out that large demographic groups previously despised as blocs actually have complex and nuanced political views (except for UKIP).

 

UKIP voters have pretty stark feels.

UKIP voters have pretty stark feels.

You are an adult, not a lemming. You are a political animal, not an adorably cute one. Make up your own mind and vote accordingly.

And if you are one of those people pushing this angle, stop embarrassing yourself and fight for what you believe in.

(If you don’t want to make up your mind, I’d like to politely ask you to vote Leave today, because I care and you don’t. There are some reasons here, although my reasons were much better.)

Lexit blogpost

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