Archive | June, 2016

Strangeness 

23 Jun

It’s almost midnight on 22 June which leads, inevitably to the 23 June. Normally this date is noted because Andy & Megan two friends of mine have birthdays on this date, I remember because they had cupcakes on the stage at the Bedford one year when we went to see Megan play with Dan, another friend (music not hide and seek or doctors and nurses that would be weird – they’re friends but like young enough to be my own children-ish or no, like I am a very young auntie, really young Aunty) They are in a great band I usually use this opportunity to put the band name in and encourage people to listen in a kind of ‘look at me linking, I am so clever in a subliminal advertising way, I am shit hot at social media’. Can’t be arsed to be clever, the band is Dan Shears & The Velveteen Orkestra…. Listen to them – D’oh for fucks sake I can’t help it!!

This time, 23rd June is a date we have been waiting for,  for what seems like ages. Now football fans know how I feel when the World Cup or Eurotrash or whatever it is called is on. An interminable grind that affects everyone’s life and conversation and social life, seemingly never ending like a long winter of rain and fog and summer of the same. This EU referendum debate, is actually taking place at the same time as Euro whatever and all anyone can do for relief is watch YouTube videos of Irish fans from the Irish Post, serenading nuns,poking money into cars and singing ballads whilst holding a can and remarkably remaining in tune like a massive emerald eistefodd. I do have to admit to an inner Mammy experience when a good looking young fella pops up and wonder if he is from near our family for my single daughter and how much land he has. We, second generation fifty something,  unfashionably Irish, before we were all friends and people knew about St Patrick’s Day; were brought up on the John Wayne/Maureen O Hara outlook instilled by our parents to keep us ‘good’ whilst our cousins in Mayo were bowling about the roads in minibuses travelling to clubs til 3am at the age of 16. Bashed into our psyche was a 1950’s upbringing that was transferred to East London and Surrey and I feel ripped off age 50. Note to self John Lydon and Shane McGowan obviously copped on a lot earlier than you.

I like that people have an opinion, I rather an opinion even if not one I agree with. I am worried though that in some, these opinions are based on lies. That worries me a lot. There are lies damn lies and statistics and they seem interchangeable. The ready quote of giving money to EU to the tune of ¬£350m per week has been discredited so many times and yet still people quote it even after being given the correct figures. The worst advocates for working people are telling them to leave and they are quoting them despite hating them last week and everything they stand for. The man that made up the fact he didn’t get treatment on the NHS at the weekend once is saying the EU wants to dismantle the NHS. The man who only months ago made positive noises about the EU is taking back his words in what appears to be an incredible cosmic cruel joke of a  domestic, in-party, leadership challenge that he has dragged us all into. This ‘bad relationship/bad divorce’ analogy I have seen people bandy about on our relationship with the EU seems a more appropriate comparison applied to the Cameron/Johnson relationship where we are all being used as collateral by a bitter abusive spouse who wants to undermine the other by virtue of appearing nicer to the outside world and more fun…

The fact that people are blaming  the EU in lazy memes for the sale of British Rail, The Post Office, BT, British Airways is an anachronism in itself – these were all sold, yes while we were in the EU but, by our domestic government to foreign companies, so therefore reinforcing the fact that this Govt has sovereignty and does trade well. It sold our assets abroad.

The fact that people say we’re over regulated because 60% of our laws are made by the EU and the figure is closer to 12% and these are laws that have protected the rights of people being encouraged to vote out.

The fact that many of the regulations quoted are non existent and to be honest, even if they were and remember that this is a blog, an opinion piece and my right to state my priorities whilst accepting others have their own, I am actually more concerned to prioritise workers rights, maternity and paternity leave, pesticide control etc than a straight banana (not true btw) Also those  who want to leave talking about over regulation feel that the worst parts in previous manifestos were things like maternity rights and that breastfeeding in public should be banned – how are these people with these opinions champions of freedom?

While I am on the subject of freedom and autonomy –  why was it down to the EU to channel money back into our country to help support rural economies and in Eire promote the language and culture of the country? A language that had largely died in the main because of it being illegal to speak it for so many years. How ironic that the EU is called a killer of national identity by Britain

There is, of course the other issues of what our grandfathers fought for. Obviously mine were not here but in a neutral country in the Second World War. People quote what their grandfathers fought for, it was freedom, I understand, and against persecution of one race or religion and they fought with allies and we have kept a peace in a unified way. The disturbing thing is that the terrorist who committed the 7/7 bombings and was captured days later in Europe and deported back to stand trial could have got away with it otherwise like in the good old days of Costa Del Crime. That when we take our children on holiday to Eurocamp and the eejits don’t wear sandals and cut their feet and get infected you hold out your EH11 card and get free treatment. That you don’t wait for visas and at borders if you want to holiday in France over to Spain or Germany. School trips are easily arranged and young people learn more (the ones that weren’t able to vote about their future) Touring musicians and artists can easily share culture.

It is also an insult for one group to claim exclusive rights to knowing what their grandparents fought for when they came back from the war, elected a government that started the NHS, and brought to bear a more liberal generation of forward thinking world citizens. I think that they knew a lot more about peace and unity than any of these soapbox warriors who have indeed never fought and many of whom even had grandparents whose fights on the beaches were against the Mod or the Rocker they despised in the 1960’s not 20 years earlier .

I have worked with EU money, I have, lucky me, been a beneficiary because it has helped me run projects for communities in need. I have seen how regulated it is that every single penny spent is accounted for or you can’t claim it back – perhaps the EU should oversee our MP’s expenses- and I have seen when it has been there when govt policy has gone to cut off the most vulnerable and at risk in society who still need help, whose bones haven’t knitted back together or leg regrown, after a six week course, or brains cleared the fog of losing a person they cared for for years now passed on and making them ‘fit for work’ in their raw grief. I’ve seen when we used our quota and the govt money here is axed and it is me sitting on the other side of the Job Centre desk.

I’ve sat on meetings where people talk about the money available if they share skills and innovation across areas and across countries and I have been at conferences where the creative industries leaders have proudly announced they have been commissioned by Shang hai to deliver a programme to enliven their night time cultural economy, already dealing with China from within the EU

Switzerland is quoted as a great example of a country outside the EU who benefits. It still pays in to get those trade agreements but has no place at the table and no decision making rights. People there, where possible (I have relatives there) drive across the border to France, Germany, Italy to shop because it is so expensive, the cost of living is so expensive. Healthcare is expensive.

If we are not in the EU the border then moves and Calais moves to Dover, the camps and the people that we need to support, this is a common EU goal at the moment. 

People vote for low taxation here, they get a government that promises low taxation and that affects how many GPs there are. It affects your meals on wheels for elderly relatives it has an affect. It is not caused by Romanians or Hungarians or French people or whoever using our services, if these people weren’t here doing that annoying thing of contributing more to the GDP than they take out then the cuts would be even worse. 

And finally, Great Britain, putting the Great back in? So going back to when we were described as part of France – Brittany Bretagne and us, Grand Bretagne. Big Brittany. That is where it is from, I hate to burst the bubble but it is nothing to do with being Billy Big Bollocks on any world stage but an misinterpretation of what the moniker ‘great’ means. Like in the old days where ‘fear ‘ meant respect and sadly now, hate. Like the other words we have incorporated from our rich multicultural and fluid relationships with the world – sterling (French) fish n chips (French dish thought to be of Jewish origin) khaki, shampoo, bungalow, nurse (Urdu) gob, session, shenanigans (Irish) etc etc. 

People want to go back to the good old days, but apart from the fact no one wants diphtheria, polio, and outside loos the issue of stampeding into countries appropriating resources and stamping out culture is so last year and accusing a body of being unelected and ‘out of order’ and doing that is kind of ironic really.

Talking of unelected, we elect MEP’s they sit on the committees that make these decisions just as the domestic ones do.

I think everyone is entitled to make a decision on their own opinion but it worries me that people are saying I hate politics and I never vote but I want our sovereign nation and I want our own laws and I don’t want to give that much money and I think immigration should be controlled so because these things are making me unhappy now I am using this vote to vote against the current status when not one of those things is true.  The issues people are using as against reasons aren’t even on the table -if they were I could understand it but they aren’t. 

There is also the other thing. None of them have a proposal for what is happening afterwards. The only proposal seen is a meme about Churchill opting for the open sea rather than Europe. Ok an analogy but what the feck does it mean? What is the open sea in this debate? Us on our own doing what? Churchill oft quoted as the greatest ever prime minister – greatest wartime perhaps but builder after war? It wasn’t Churchill that built the country back up post war – the welfare state would have been an anathema to this ancient family of feudal lords.  Be careful that in sticking your fingers up to the EU in a long drawn out ‘battle reenactment of Agincourt’ like those blokes in pubs are always keen to point out the facts of the V sign, that the other hand isn’t constantly touching a greasy forelock to our real enemy –   the class system endemic here that has you waiting in line in the foodbank because another patriot in an ancient building as part of their ancient right has sanctioned your benefits and your steel works were sold off – remember – it was the EU that tried to get a deal on that to keep it here, not the government.

Whatever people do,   Whatever is said, the only ones who have had no say are the very ones it affects most, the 16 and 17 year olds and younger. Try not, you older generation, with cast iron pensions and no mortgages, free universities and a peaceful life,  to pull up the ladder after you. Your grandparents didn’t just fight for you, and if they did it was to give the chance for you to be grandparents and look out for your young ones too. Really, this is their vote. Ask them what they want.