Monday, 30 May 2016

Why you should care about Brexit

Freedom depends on an effective early warning system

Undecided individuals keep asking me why they should care whether we stay in the EU or not. I can give them no answers. I can't give anyone a reason to care because everybody has different motivations. All I can do is say why I care. If that resonates, then fine. 

And so why do I care? You have all heard the expression "politics is too important to be left to politicians"? Well if not, you have now. And our continued membership is exactly that - leaving politics to the politicians. 

As a largely well pampered society we cast off our responsibilities to indulge in whatever takes our fancy. We trot along to the polling booths whenever there's an election (or some of us do) to select the brand you find the least offensive and that's "job done" as far as most are concerned. It's a complete abandonment. You place your trust in those you select and you let them get on with it. 

But they have betrayed that trust. They have taken the power that is yours and handed it over to the EU. In turn our own politicians have cast off their responsibilities to indulge in whatever takes their fancy. And there are consequences for this. 

Personally I have a special loathing of the EU. I have written volumes about it over the years and this blog is a testament to that. And as bad as it is, I still do not seem able to convince some that leaving is a good idea. And that's fine. We all make moral compromises every single day and we shut out what we don't like in order to carry on behaving as we do. 

Occasionally I will see videos on Facebook demonstrating in graphic detail the horrors of factory farming. It's horrific. But by dinner time I will be tucking into something that has been treated abysmally without a second thought. Whether we change our actions depends entirely on our motivations and the compromises we are willing to make. I'm not going veggie for anyone. So we are all hypocrites. 

And I could set out in detail, beyond reasonable doubt, that the EU is in a large way responsible for the people you see dying in the Mediterranean. And you'll be horrified. But not horrified enough to risk your job or the luxuries you enjoy. Go on, say it... I don't care. And that's fine too. Nobody cares really about these people do they? They are inconvenient. 

We cannot shoulder all of the burdens of man or dwell on their plight when we have our own lives to lead. But then if I can't convince you on those grounds, what if I told you you would be £933 a year better off? You wouldn't believe me and I would think you a fool if you did. And so I cannot convince you of anything can I? The only way most of you will make a stand is when something immediately disturbs your reality.

But you only have that peace of mind because you trust that there is a functioning early warning system and checks and balances exist to ensure your safety and liberty. We have our politicians and our media. But ask yourselves if that is really working properly? 

Do you really know or understand what is being done in your name? Your MPs don't. They don't know where the rules and regulations come from. I can count on one hand the ones that do. And when was the last time you saw an authoritative report on what was happening in the European Parliament? 

Most of you have been told there is something called TTIP. You have been told that it is something to worry about. You probably don't know what it is or what it does. You might have grasped that it's a "trade deal" of sorts that may or may not do something to the NHS. Our media doesn't know. Our MPs and MEPs are largely none the wiser. And because you know so little about it and you trust me I could tell you anything I want and you would believe me. I won't because that's not how I roll. 

As it happens I'm not going to say anything about it. I'm going to leave you in the dark. All I'll say is that when and if it passes, within a few years there will be effects and consequences. And since there is only a shallow debate about it, are you really going to take it on trust? 

In all likelihood you don't know who your MEP is. You can't name the EU presidents, you don't understand what the EU Commision does, you don't know the difference between the European Council and the Council of Europe. You have no idea how UNECE works. You don't know the difference between the EU buildings Brussels and Strasbourg. You don't know who is making the rules, you don't know how they are made and the people voting for them are only marginally more informed. 

But you do know who the PM is. You can probably name a few of his ministers. You probably hate their guts. You know there's a House of Lords, and have a vague idea of what they are for and you know they live at that big building by the river with the big clock. You also know you can kick government out now and then. You are culturally attuned to the power being in the Wesminster neighbourhood. It's where you believe the power is. 

That is why it matters. We are always going to be run by crooks and frauds but the idea is to keep them where you can see them. You may not watch them from day to day but plenty people do. Who is watching they grey men in suits negotiating seismic deals at the top tables? Nobody, that's who. 

And that is why we need to take the power back. As much as you are being ripped off by paying for two well pampered political classes, only one of them is doing the real business of government. The bozos in Wesminster are just doing as they are told. In this arrangement they are not accountable to us. 

Since you are never really going to fully engage in politics the way I do, and you're only partially tuned in, you are not getting the warning signals. When there is a flap in the media it is usually over some or other nonsense, but that's because the big stuff is decided elsewhere. For sure, our government is still in charge of when we commit our forces to conflicts, and you always know when they are about to drop bombs on people, but that is a largely so you don't wake up to the fact that there has been a silent coup. 

Little by little, the powers you have entrusted to your politicians have been surrendered to the unelected, the nameless and the unaccountable. You wouldn't even know where to look for them if you took issue with them. And though we have seen empty promises from David Cameron that he has put a stop to further transfers of power, we have heard that same riff from every prime minister since 1975. There is nothing at all to stop them handing over more powers and no reason to believe that they won't.

But we're back to that question again. Why should you care? Well, in the final analysis, you are free to do as you choose in blissful and wilful ignorance largely because you live in a liberal country that is governed well by way of our respect for the rule of law. You are used to politics not impeding on your life. But there's an old saying. If you don't take an interest in politics, politics will take an interest in you. Or more precisely, your wallet.

You are paying too much for everything. You are paying too much for your energy, too much for your rent, too much for your petrol, too much for you food, too much for your water and too much for your flights abroad. Either directly or indirectly you are subsidising corporates to build things we don't need and things that don't work. And you don't get a say in it because it's decided at the global level. 

They tell us it's to stop climate change but mainly it's about profit and vanity. And because governing officials are largely insulated from the consequences of their decisions, there is no real imperative for them to change tack. Especially when you can't get rid of them. 

Now this is the bit where I am supposed to offer you the moon on a stick and tell you that everything will be cheaper and we can clear out the corruption and that we're only a vote away from a return to glory. That's not going to happen. We are turning a supertanker here. Nothing much is going to change overnight. There will be no miraculous transformation. But what it will mean, eventually, is that when there's a flap coming from London, when your instincts tell you that you should be paying attention, there is every advantage in doing so. It means that if we say no, then no does actually mean no. 

And that is what this is all about. Having the right to say no to our government. Liberal democracies only stay liberal democracies with real particpation even if that particpation is just keeping an eye on them. For as long as government is shifting ever further away, the less attention you will pay to them and the less attention they will pay to you. Until one day, all those things you take for granted, those things you believe you can do without infringement of government will come to a very sudden end. 

And we have been here before. Many times. And if we have learned one thing it is this: When we have ceded absolute power to those we cannot remove then there are few ways to get it back, none of which are especially pleasant. And so whether you should vote for to leave the EU comes down to a couple of estimations. How long do you think things can go on the way they are, and do you trust these anonymous people to whom our politicians have given the power?

I see a number of threats and challenges on the horizon. They are all documented on this blog. I believe they are good reasons to leave. You probably don't care. You will eventually, but not now. But I am not going to ask you to simply trust me either. There is no reason why you should. But you should know this. This vote might well be the last vote you ever cast that can change course. 

Take a close look at the people who want you to stay. They are the people who hold the power or those people profiting from them. They do not want to leave the EU. They don't want you interfering with their grand design. They want you to go back to sleep. They want you not to care. They want you to quietly go about your business. They'd even rather you didn't vote at all. They even think this referendum is a nuisance which they would rather not have. To me, that is justification enough to leave. Because we habitually tune out politics we need to be mindful of that and put in a safeguard. 

We make a conscious decision to tune things out. We don't want to be bothered by this stuff. There aren't enough hours to in the day to keep on top of it all. We have our own lives to lead. But when you take your eye off the ball for long enough, they forget who they work for. Think of Brexit as a yank on the leash. 

If we don't do it now they will take it as a mandate to do as they please. They will learn that there is no consequence for betraying your trust. They will learn that they can tell you a lie and any lie will do - and that there is no price to pay. And from that day forward, nothing you ever say will ever matter to them again. Let that sink in. 

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