Oh, no. Staying in the EU can be the “patriotic course for Britain”, says Lord Rose, chair of the “Britain is stronger in Europe” group. Just what I didn’t want to hear after I had finally decided that it would be better for the UK to remain in Europe than leave it. To make matters even worse, I then read that Karren Brady is a big player within this group. Perhaps I have made an horrendous error of judgement. It wouldn’t be the first time.
On the face of it, this appears to be the upper classes lining up to keep us in the EU because tax dodging Richard Branson is another prominent pro staying in person, too. I know: I will change my mind and vote to leave. What could possibly go wrong?
Oh hang on. The no lobby is led by the likes of Nigel Farage, leader of a party that is so right wing there has been little need to resurrect the BNP. And then there’s the shady Tax Payers Alliance (TPA). Now what? Can I abstain?
So that’s one lot of right wingers in favour of remaining within the EU and another lot calling for us to leave. How is everyone else going to vote?
What I don’t is more of this “I’m more patriotic than you.” I am quite glad to be a bit British, as I am to be a bit Dutch and a bit Norwegian. I’m genuinely not sure what it means to be proud to be British, though. This is not because I hate my country, as the Mail might suggest, but because there are things I am very proud about and there are things I am not proud about. I am proud that we have the NHS, the BBC, state schooling and all the rest of it, I’m not proud of how we are behaving over the refugee crisis (angry and embarrassed are better descriptors), or how we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, or of how the government treats young people and how a million people used food banks last year.
I would rather we did remain in the EU because I believe in free movement. I am not particularly exercised by the current levels of immigration, I like the idea of being able to live and work wherever I am in Europe, I see people as people, whichever language they speak, whatever colour they happen to be. But it’s not without a qualification.
I do not want Cameron to negotiate away workers’ rights as part of his new deal with Europe. We already have some of the most draconian anti-union laws in Europe, if not the free world, and anything that still further takes away our rights should be opposed.
We have seen the rich and infamous kick off the campaigns for and against but I’d like to know how it affects ordinary folk. It is about much more than how it affects big business.
But I won’t be voting for patriotic reasons. I want what’s best for ordinary working people and that’s the basis upon which I will vote.