The Word Rabbit

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This article was written on 17 May 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.

Voting to Remain

I generally, as a rule, don’t vote. My opinion is that all it does is give a rubber stamp to a process that is fundamentally flawed and profoundly undemocratic. When you can have a government elected by just 24% of the population, and which governs as though it was voted in by a majority, then the system we live under is risible and not taking part is almost an imperative. The best you can hope to do is to withhold participation, hope that others do the same, and deprive the process of whatever thin legitimacy it may have had. But there remains the referendum.

This is a situation where there is nobody to vote for, where first past the post does not apply. If my contention was always that my vote went nowhere, here is, finally, a place where it does count. I’ve been railing, emptily, against the system for years, but recognise that this is one instance where that system is suspended and another comes into play and that, oh the horror, I’m going to find myself going up to the polling station on June 23rd.

But to say that you are going to vote for a certain side gives you, as the Americans say, ‘skin in the game.’ You have an interest in one outcome. As do I. And I passionately believe that we are better staying in a flawed EU than stomping off and giving fools and knaves like Farage and Johnson a vote of confidence. Farage is clearly a soft-focus racist and xenophobe who would have cheerily sold us out to Hitler in 1939 because he approved of his tough line on the Jews and Johnson is just a shabby opportunist who would say, or do, anything to hold power for its own sake. Neither matters.

What matters much, much more is that nation is being forced to talk to nation for the first time since the end of the Second World War. And before the ‘Leave’ faction go off on some deranged jingoistic rant, the truth of the Second World War is that it was fought by a multinational force, comprising many of the subject peoples they now spurn and that most of the actual dying was done by the Red Army, who inadvertently liberated countries only for them to be subjugated again under a regime that was less genocidal than the one they replaced. All a bit messier than the usual weary re-runs of the Battle of Britain and D-Day would have you believe.

It means, though, that while my great-grandad (1914) and grandad’s (1944) one and only trip to France and Belgium resulted in them being shot at, my dad hasn’t suffered the same fate and nor have I. And nor, I hope, will my children. If nations hit a bump in the road, they talk it out until a compromise is reached. Anyone who suggested going to war would look insane. You’d even look odd if you suggested breaking off diplomatic relations. We’re all too much intertwined for that to do much beyond hurting both parties. This is down to the EU.

We are committed, then, to free movement of people, as well as goods and labour. This seems ideal. We no longer have to stay in our island, but can travel more easily and sell our work to whoever wants it, rather than the bloke down the road. Who wouldn’t want that? Additionally, we have a whole load of protections brought to us by the EU, rather than the hateful reactionary windbags who call themselves our government and who would never have passed this legislation in a month of Sundays. Vote to leave, and you’re voting to strip away all of this and return to some nightmarish, pre-war vision of England where the rich get it all and the poor can fuck off.

Finally, we’re told that with the EU, there is a democratic deficit. Really? Where? I can’t vote for my head of state, whose only qualification is that she came out of the right vagina, just as I can’t vote for the Lords, all of whom are political placemen, with the exception of a few people who are there to mumble religious pieties. At least I can actually vote for people who sit in the European Parliament, unlike the sclerotic, Ruritanian system we have here, when you get first dibs on the top jobs if you went to Eton or are a Royal.

There are things wrong with the EU, but right now, none of them matter. We need to stay in, or the right will be emboldened into taking even more of our rights than they have already and there’s a very realistic prospect of having a Tory civil war that involves Michael Gove or Johnson becoming the Prime Minister. And I wouldn’t want that. Finally, if the UK does vote to leave, I hope the EU offers the ones who want to remain EU citizenship. I’d take it in a heartbeat, because I really don’t want to be here for Prime Minister Gove’s first hundred days in office.

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