by Les May
IN five weeks time I am going to be asked to vote in a referendum which I did not want and have about as much enthusiasm for as a medieval peasant must have had for the Wars of the Roses. But on this occasion it isn't the Plantagenets that have fallen out but another bunch who reckon they have a God given right to run the country for their own benefit, the Tory party. It's not Yorkist and Lancastrian branches of the Plantagenets, but the Nasty and the Very Nasty wings of the Tory party.
Just as the battle of Bosworth was the end of the line for the Plantagenets, June 23rd could prove to be the end of the line for the Tory party as we know it. UKIP has already suggested that if the result is in favour of staying in the EU, but not decisively so, we should be made to carry on voting until UKIP gets the 'leave' result it wants.
I am one of the 33% of people who voted to leave the European Economic Community (EEC) in the 1975 referendum. So why have I changed my mind and joined the 'Remain' camp?
I am a Socialist. That means I want to see a more equitable, less hierarchical, society and I want less income inequality. I don't want to see things like health and education monetised and traded as commodities. I'm 'Green' enough to know that the pursuit of never ending economic growth is a futile quest and we have got to find a different way.
But whichever way I vote, when I wake up on the 24th of June I am not going to see any of those things. I am not going to see even the tiniest step on the way to these things. Voting for Brexit on the grounds that the EU is a 'capitalist conspiracy' is just gesture politics or as I am inclined to call it, 'Resolutionary Socialism'. It might make me feel better, but it will change nothing of consequence.
So far as I am concerned you'd struggle to insert a fag paper between the Cameron camp and the Boris camp in terms of their overall politics. But that fag paper of difference is the EU.
The Brexit camp go on about, 'setting Britain free' and 'getting rid of Red Tape'. But my 'Red Tape' is your protection against an excessively long working week. It's your protection against your nearest river being polluted because it's cheaper to dump stuff in the nearest watercourse, rather than treat it properly before disposal.
Because in the end that is what the EU is about. It's about creating a 'level playing field' and making sure that no country can gain an advantage by 'a race to the bottom'. You may not like the game that is being played in the EU, but if it offers a bit of protection from rapacious employers why not take it?
In spite of their liberal pretensions the printed media like to stereotype old folk like me as being particularly ill at ease with immigration and so more likely to be in the Brexit camp. Whilst the Brexit people have not actually promised an end to immigration they have done little or nothing to dispel the notion that such a scenario is on the cards.
But just because we are old doesn't mean we can't see through this particular ruse. We were having our kids in the sixties when the birth rate was high averaging about 17 per 1000 for the ten years after 1960. In the 1980s it was about 13.3 per 1000 and since 1994 it has been about 12.3 per 1000. Our kids will become pensioners themselves in the years after 2030. There will be a lot of pensioners being supported by a smaller proportion of workers who were born here. Raising the pension age still further may offset some of the problems but would not be popular or practicable. It's fine if you are an office worker but not much good if you work on a building site.
So how to square that particular circle? By immigration of course. Let in lots of young able bodied workers and let their taxes pay the pensions bill.
In other words if you are thinking of voting for Brexit because you don't like all these foreigners taking 'our' jobs, forget it. All governments are committed to immigration to make sure the sums add up, even if they don't want to tell you so.