Judgement Day

Well, today is the day that Britain goes to the polls and decides whether it wants to remain in the EU or leave, and if the flooding is anything to go by, it seems we’ve gone with Brexit and the apocalypse predicted by David Cameron is already upon us!

Of course, the result remains far from a foregone conclusion and, if the polls are correct, will be close fought. I can certainly testify that, while I was in my local polling station to cast my vote for ‘leave’, there were far more people coming to vote than would be the case for a general election, so it’s quite possible we may see a record level of votes cast today.  But, will the British dare to take the first step in refashioning their political landscape, let alone all those that must follow, or will they continue to cleave to a boy’s club of limited scope, a relic of the Cold War years?

It’s certainly been an interesting campaign, at least as far as the Remain camp’s propaganda went. We’ve had them telling us that Europe is corrupt and inefficient, but is better than the alternative. There were apocalyptic visions of how Europe will collapse into anarchy and war without the UK and the global economy collapse overnight. One pro-EU pundit proudly proclaimed that it was thanks to the EU that Britain is the fifth largest economy in the world – a position it has held since before joining in the 1970s. Then, came the threats: vote Leave and an emergency budget would be inflicted upon us (for our own good, naturally), Obama declared the UK would go to the back of a non-existent queue for a trade deal, pensions would be slashed to punish the pensioners who largely back Brexit.

Not that you can blame them. The only credible arguments for the EU are those they don’t want to make on the grounds that most people in Britain don’t want the superstate they do. Unfortunately, the arguments for closer integration are the ones that actually make sense, leaving them with these non-arguments and insults.

And, then, everything came to a brief, crashing halt with the murder of MP Jo Cox. The work of a lone nutter or the first step to right-wing revolution, as many of the more paranoid leftists proclaimed? Predictably, certain figures in the Remain camp immediately stepped forward to politicise her death, claiming that the rhetoric of the Leave movement was to blame. Of course, it’s difficult to tell how much the referendum debate played in motivating her murder as her killer was known to be mentally unstable, but if he did act as a result of coverage, the blame lies at least as much, if not more, upon the febrile Remain campaign. On the whole, the Leave camp have been measured and rational, focusing upon the undisputed problems of the current immigration system, the savings that might come from leaving the EU and such issues of sovereignty, with relatively little in terms of apocalyptic vision and hatemongering. The Leave campaign, as already noted, has largely consisted of emphasising the bugbear nature of the EU, threats and apocalyptic scenarios, all leavened with insults and ad hominem arguments aimed squarely at their opponents. Far from the measured and responsible campaigning they now bewail a lack of!

Unfortunately, the quality of the campaigning hasn’t improved in the last few days. Banal arguments and insults remain the best that can be mustered by Remain and, without a decent debate, Leave cannot really shine. In many ways, the entire exercise has been a waste of time, especially as neither side has a real vision for what lies beyond the referendum result tomorrow. The Remain camp, after reminding us how bad the EU is and denying the inevitable progression towards a super-state, essentially just want to carry on with ‘business as usual’ without confronting the need to reform the EU or getting a handle on immigration. The Leave camp, on the other hand, offer vague promises of jam tomorrow and a land of milk and honey should we vote ‘out’ without clear details as to what it actually means to Britain or even how the extraction of the UK from the EU will work, if it actually occurs at all, given entrenched opposition in the civil service and parliament. Lacklustre, indeed.

The question is: Can something good come from it, regardless? I’d like to think so, but the jury’s out till all the votes are counted.

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