Be nice, vote remain.

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Be nice, vote remain.

The EU referendum is only days away now and the battle between the leave and remain campaigns is out of control.  Both politics and journalism has got nasty over the last few weeks culminating in the shocking behaviour from The Sun, yesterday, urging their readership to vote Leave on June 23rd. https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/1277920/we-urge-our-readers-to-believe-in-britain-and-vote-to-leave-the-eu-in-referendum-on-june-23/

This, I’m hoping will be the lowest point from either side,  but desperation can make people do bad things, so watch this space.

So far, the debate has been fought using aggressive rhetoric,  with neither camp afraid to err on the side of hyperbole for effect.   The leave campaign in particular has used language for the purpose of instilling fear in our communities about the ‘dangers’ of Europe.  The Sun’s article states how we as a nation should be seeking control, strength and sovereignty.  Openly writing that Great Britain should be a ‘powerful nation, envied by all’.  How on earth envy can be a positive outcome in any respect is beyond me.  This is a piece about division, about supremacy and xenophobia.  These divisive words are being used with such hateful strength, and as if it’s perfectly normal to be that nasty.  It now wouldn’t surprise me if the next step for the Tories would be to promote these ideologies as ‘British Values’ through the education system.

The general bluster surrounding the whole referendum may be offensive and off-putting but it is driving the prime objective of getting bums in booths on June 23rd.  Both sides are trying to make more noise than the other in these closing stages of the campaign, and I don’t blame them.  In previous elections softness in approach has been misconstrued  as weakness of argument, which we know could be pounced upon by any number of boorish politicians or businessmen on one side or the other, persuading hoards of undecided fence-sitters to vote the other way.

For the sensible and measured among us, I want us to remember the Scotland referendum earlier this year and how we felt about it in England. I have zero pride in having been born in England, it just happened, and it’s fine.  Well actually, it’s rather nice here, but I have no sense of nationalist pride whatsoever.  But for some reason even I felt a tiny bit offended that so many Scots didn’t want to be part of ‘our’ country anymore.  I had readied myself for a ‘sod off then’ attitude if the result was for Scotland’s independence (luckily, it wasn’t – this time).   Now imagine that on the epic scale of Europe, and how the people will be watching and waiting to see if we are going to choose to reject them.  Just as we held our breath, hoping that Austria wouldn’t elect their far right candidate as president this month, so will Europe have all eyes on us.   The people will be hoping we choose friendship over hate, and co-operation over tactics of bullying and holding to ransom (which would be the only ways to proceed with negotiating new trade deals if we do leave the EU).

We cannot underestimate the stability that comes with positive diplomacy and international relations that this country has worked so tirelessly to achieve since the second world war.  Our united Europe is a testament to reason, courage, tenacity and friendship from all parties.  We are a leader within the EU, we hold a position of esteem and with that honour comes humility.  This is a value that we, as Brits should be proud of.  The notions of inclusion, empathy and raising standards should be what we’re all about.  Why wouldn’t we want as many nations as possible to be able to set their standards of workers’ rights and safety laws higher as part of the expanding European Union?  British Law has the power to set even higher standards for these things if we should wish, so I can only surmise that the Leave campaign wishes to duck out of the obligation to look after our people to this level.

The people of Britain are not going to suffer by remaining in the EU.  There is a great possibility however, that the people of Britain are going to suffer if we leave.  The suffering is obviously not physical, it may be economic, but that’s not actually what’s at stake here.   If we leave the EU it is certain that our reputation will suffer and that other nations will suffer too.  Perhaps countries will break away one by one, fragmenting Europe, complicating relations and individually vying for power, one over the other to negotiate the best trade deals.  It will lead to ugly competition, envy and hate across Europe.

To put it simply, we need people to realise that it is important to do the right thing.  Strength lies in kindness and working together.  It is not a sign of weakness to remain united.

So be nice.  Vote remain.

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