Friday 03 June 2016

There is little point in pretending I have looked into the specifics of the pros and cons of staying/leaving the European Union. I haven’t. I will be voting to remain in. That is the short version.

There has been quite a lead up to this vote. And it is a very important vote that surely deserves this period of contemplation and debate. But, much like the build up to a general election, I do wonder if it makes much difference. If the vote had been two months ago would it be that much different to when it takes place on 23 June?

It’s mainly about improving the CV and public perception of the leading campaigners. Whether it be about Cameron’s legacy, Johnson’s march to leading the Conservative Party, or indifference to whatever the leader of the Liberal Democrats thinks about anything.

So, why don’t I listen to what everyone has to say and make a balanced opinion and use that to inform where I write a cross with a pencil on a small piece of paper?

Well I am not sure anyone could say anything to make me vote to leave. That’s a pretty pig-headed place to be but it’s inefficient to pretend otherwise. There are lots and lots of intricacies to the whole debate. However, I fundamentally don’t like the idea of borders and anything that separates people. As such leaving the European Union does not appeal to me.

Have I completely ignored everything then? No. I have listened to people talk from both sides because I am not very proactive when it comes to changing the channel on my television or radio. From absorbing the cacophony of electioneering I can confidently say that both sides have either lots or no evidence that staying or leaving is a good thing for the economy.

With those campaigning to leave I can at least listen to the ideas on how the economy will improve. I don’t believe them but at least it has some sense of reason. However, their argument seeming to lack any real conviction means that they rely on (a) the thing that is garnering all the support (b) the thing that repulses me: the issue of immigration.

I am not small-minded enough to suggest everyone who wants to leave the EU is racist. Because I think that there are probably hundreds of them who aren’t. And I am sure there are plenty of racists who will vote to stay in the EU, that’s the thing with racists: you can’t pigeonhole them as thick, ignorant horrible bastards.

There is a lot of scaremongering about immigration. Which is understandable because it’s what the right-wing generally does to engender support when they can’t get it just by getting people to think about their wallet or some other selfish trait.

What confuses me is the way it’s done as though we aren’t in the EU currently. If we don’t vote to leave then some Turkish people will live in your kitchen and there will be nothing you can do stop them. So why aren’t there 14 million Turks in my shed now? Are the immigrants waiting until the country has said it’s definitely OK by everyone?

I know some people think there are already too many immigrants (like I said, racists) but there aren’t. We aren’t voting to double how much we are in the Union and to insist more immigrants (escape places they are persecuted/tortured/murdered/bombed) come to contribute to our society/destroy our society* delete as applicable.

There are clearly a lot of people who will vote to leave because of their fears of immigration. The sad thing is that if any of them win the lottery they will move to Spain leaving me behind with all the annoyed aging racists frustrated that they haven’t won the lottery and moved to a hot country.

Let’s add something here about the jibes about people wanting out being racist. “Oh yeah, then how am I black then?”; “Oh yeah well I’m half-Indian so how can I be racist?” Well an easy answer is that people are fucking stupid. Of course you can be racist and also be of a race/nationality/religion that isn’t ‘White British’. Especially if you’re fucking stupid. And even though you might not think you are racist, because you don’t goose step or have a skinhead, if you talk and act like a racist when you talk about immigration then you might be a racist, yeah?

I still haven’t heard an argument about the problems of Britain that aren’t just problems that could be solved regardless of the amount of immigrants in the country. Apart from the number of immigrants in the country, admittedly that is directly linked to immigration. But if someone thinks that is a problem then I feel more comfortable with labelling them as a racist.

I am from Stalybridge, I am Mancunian, I am English, I am British, I am European – I am from Earth. I am a human being. I am happy with all these labels but I don’t think any of them should involve barriers. That’s where I am.

*drops mic walks off*

The above was written about a week ago, not sure why I waited so long with it unpublished. Happily enough my laziness has led to an encounter which fits in with this whole waffle, perhaps making this whole blog less interesting than it already is (not interesting).

Last night, 3rd June 2016, I was having a few beers with a friend in Didsbury. I’d played football after work and rushed by tea after putting my son to bed and the Fosters wasn’t going down as well as it normally does – but that’s irrelevant.

While my companion is taking a piss a man who is clearly obnoxious (Irish) says something in a broad accent. Being able to make out one in three words and having a vague sense of his body language I am 82% certain that he’s making a joke about me being sat alone on a table. Over the following 20 minutes I will become crushingly aware of the irony of this, as he’s a man who should spend eternity sat on his own at a table of empty chairs.

He will introduce himself as from Northern Ireland. His ‘friend’ (my quotation marks) is from Bochum in Germany, this is relevant to what follows so if you’ve skimmed over it but are reading this then go back and read it.

Seemingly unaware that we were quite happy in our one-one-one conversation the man continues to make conversation. He seems quite aggressive, says “fuck you” after everything I say, but unthreatening (as unthreatening as a man of my age can find anyone with an Irish accent), as he laughs after doing it. His German friend remains quite quiet, I soon realise this is because he is contemplating what he has done wrong to be on a night out with this guy.

After asking where we are from and other questions leading to me saying something mildly offensive (nothing too bad – I suggest he looks a lot older than the 40 years he says has on him, I suggest he didn’t like London because people would have been uncomfortable about him, worrying he might blow them up with a holdall – that kind of thing) and him saying “fuck you” and then laughing.

He brings up the EU vote. He is British and thinks Britain is for the British and thinks we should vote out. I suggest there could be advantages to this if Ireland is united before this happens and he is then not really British and we eject him…”fuck you hahahahaha”.

My friend and I tell him we are quite openly very pro-EU. He talks about money and how the Euro isn’t good. We point out remaining in the EU doesn’t mean we will lose the pound. My friend suggests everyone should just vote the way they want to and not try to convince others.

As I suggested earlier I don’t think people are going to change their minds from their instinct. However, in this situation – like any situation to be fair – I find it impossible to ignore the opposite view. More accurately I find it impossible to ignore the flaws in the argument of someone who is kind of an immigrant, on a night out with a definite immigrant (coincidentally enough I am writing this listening to a German Labour MP) electioneering for the Leave campaign…well I never), shouting the virtues of closing our borders.

Fortunately at this stage he spills a pint over himself, blames my friend (who gets him a pint) and we make our goodbyes. We shake hands and I say bye to the German, who is stood outside smoking. I wonder if this is a habit he has started to excuse himself from his enthusiastic and vocal friend. I also wonder whether their wives are very good friends. Or if the German has murdered someone and the Irish man knows about it and holds it over him.

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