Not Mid Morning Matters

JD in the Morning, off air…

Tag: immigration

It’s up to EU

So the saying goes, if you can’t explain it clearly to a 5-year-old then you really don’t understand it yourself. Apply this to the E.U and find yourself a 5-year-old to test the theory. I would be interested to speak to you and the 5-year-old after your explanation to see how you both got on. If only our political class had tried this before they embarked on their ”Leave” or ”Remain” campaigns as the last few months has been little more than claims and counter claims. These have now mostly been discredited as part truths at best or lies at worst. The truth is and the facts are that they don’t and can’t know. The painful reality of the 23rd June and our pending referendum is that it is change we are voting for, regardless, and to make it in/out or status quo/unknown is naive. The biggest question of all is why are we having this referendum in the first place.

So far the campaigns might as well have been saying that each of us will get our own Unicorn and money tree if we stay in the EU but our ears will fall off and our kitchen taps will all leak if we leave EU, or visa versa. Most of the claims on what The EU costs or doesn’t, what the EU does or doesn’t do or what the EU will be or not be in the future have been rightly pulled apart (in part) by the opposition but they never let facts or the truth temper their best interest not their possible raw political gain. The sign written Out Battle Bus is a prime example of a ”fact” that is just not true.

So what can we do before we make the most important political and social decision of our lives and of our generation? Firstly, ask yourself how the EU affects you directly or indirectly? This is a tough question. It’s hard to know but think about the hours you work and the hours others work to support you. Those hours along with maternity and paternity pay, sickness and holiday pay are all down to the EU. As are European mobile phone charges, migration, free trade, product safety standards, VAT setting, tax on tampons, education, nursing staff, doctors training and food quality. Check the facts on those and then you can make an informed decision for you and yours.

Heaven help us if we make the most important democratic decision of our lives solely on migration and immigration. We can not go back fifty years to a time of Police Officers with whistles and no radios, when you mostly likely would have lived, worked and shopped in your town and your world was a much smaller place. That is not today and we can’t go back to that unenlightened time even if we really wanted to. Now is not a time to be romantic or nostalgic nor is it a time to rely on all those who we elected last year and this year. They have too much to gain or lose politically from this vote and they are hardly likely to tell you the whole truth now so close to the actual vote.

There will be two debates that I will be moderating in my BBC Radio Bristol day job during June and my plan for both these debates is simple. Get answers to questions that are truthful and factual. Only when the head and mind is informed can the heart be allowed to guide. The 23rd June has to be a head lead decision not an emotional response to ‘Johnny Foreigner’ coming over here and doing what ever. If the EU and its solution really were as simple as our black top tabloid newspapers sell it there would be no need for a debate at all.

One last thing. We all need to learn the very important difference between migration (a net figure in the last year of 184,000 to the UK from within the EU), immigration (a net figure of 186,000 people to the UK from outside the EU) and refugee, who is someone who has no choice other than leave their home or be killed.

One last question. Why has every British Prime Minister been pro the EU with the majority of Treaties sign by Conservative Prime Ministers?

And for the record I am undecided.

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You want out of the EU, right?

Then there were two. UKIP now have their second MP and it’s fair to say that neither of the defectors who are now UKIP MP’s were moderate Conservatives in the first place. They wanted out of the EU. They have their position and they don’t want a debate it. UKIP don’t want a renegotiation, they don’t even want to discuss what is good about the EU, they just want out. UKIP arrogantly assume you want out of the EU too. To UKIP it is a binary question with a binary answer, and that ‘out’ answer leads to a land of men in business suits, women at home, blue striped milk jugs on the breakfast table, corporal punixshment and lunchtime drinking in the pub. Where do I sign?!

Of course you want ‘out’ of the EU don’t you? Of course you do. The press says you want out, UKIP says you want out so that’s it. And you weren’t asked about the EU. You were only asked about the Common Market back in 1975. The EU is a bad thing. It takes all our money, makes all our laws and the entire population of continental Europe wants to come to the UK to take all our benefits and all of our jobs. The simple solution is get out of the EU and the UK is back to its 1950s heyday. This seems to be a UKIP vision of the UK, a sort of Kath Kidston brand of the past, a stylised pre globalised world of safety, empire and security, which never really existed. But it will have lovely spots.

Here are three of many arguments for staying in the EU.

Peace. Since the formation of cooperation over coal and steel production between Germany and France in the early 1950s the central tenet of the EU has been the free movement of people, to remove the need for formal boarders and denies any nations desire to expand the beyond them. The countries not in the EU but who trade within the block, such as Norway, also have to allow free movement of people. It’s part of the EU deal. This is something UKIP forget to mention, along with the rest of the political class and the press. The EU won the Nobel Peace Prize back in 2012.

The European Convention of Human Rights. This is nothing to do with tehe EU. It was born out of the atrocities of the WW2 and originally called the Treaty Of London. The treaty protects the rights of everyone beyond the European landmass. Winston Churchill was one of the instigators.

Cheaper labour. The reality is that if you want a pre made lunchtime sandwich, fresh seasonal British veg and fruit in the shops or decent service in a restaurant then you need cheaper labour from the EU. Simply, our UK work force can’t or won’t do these low paid, hard work jobs. British workers want more pay than is available and if you think it’s just a case of paying more for the job then you’re deluded. If it cost more to do the job it will cost you more to benefit from the product of that job. And if it costs you more than you will need to earn more to pay for it. This is called inflation. It’s a bad thing.

Being in or out of the EU is not as simple as UKIP are selling or as complicated as the other political parties are implying. The EU is far from perfect. The EU needs reform so free movement of people does not mean free money if you move to the UK. Yet to use immigration as the reason your lot is not how you want your lot to be is a delusion. UKIP’s ‘Kath Kidston 1950s Britain’ is no more real than the Labour or Conservative view of Britain’s place in the EU. A real, factual debate is needed.

If you could be made happier, healthier and wealthier by leaving the EU then don’t you think the other parties would be selling an exit too? Of course they would. It’s time to open our minds to what the EU is for and stop looking for simple answers to complicated questions.

UKIP have conflated immigration and the EU into a potent cocktail with a big kick. They offer a simple solution and an even simpler result. The other political parties have failed to answer their pitch.

It’s not the EU that has failed us, it’s our political class, again.

I’m not being racist but…

Immigration. It’s a complex word that strikes a deep chord, gets the media in a tangle and makes politicians worry about what they can say, or don’t say.

At the last general election in 2010 it was the third rail of British politics. Touch it and you will die. Bigotgate anyone? Ask Gordon Brown about immigration and see his jaw lock, as only it can. This year and the next general election this will and must change.

It is a painful reality that, as part of he EU, we have freedom of movement around the 27 member states and they do here. So we can no more pull up the UK PLC drawbridge and lock the doors with a sign on saying ‘No Vacancies’ than Spain can do the same to us. Maybe Spain, Greece, France, Portugal would like to send back all those British expats living in those warmer European climbs? Freedom of movement is a central plank of the EU and, without it, the whole project will fail. So for the UK not to be part of this fundamental part of the EU means we are out, even before you get be asked if you want to be in or out in 2017. It is a shame that the bill that would have made that law has now died a painful death at the hands of our noble lords. That is politics for you.

This last week has seen the Prime Minister commit again to ‘tens of thousands’ of net immigration just as parliament got itself into a total tis over the Immigration Bill. The sight of our Home Secretary having to sit on her hands and abstain on an illegal amendment to the bill shows how difficult this whole issue is, even for our law makers and party leaders.

So is it racist to debate immigration? The BBC gets itself in knots over the issue, as do most national newspapers and politicians. Is it racist to want border controls? If it is then most countries outside the EU are guilty as charged. ‘I’m not being racist but … can I see your visa?’ Is it racist to expect those who choose to the UK to pay taxes, to be part of the wider community, to speak the common language and respect the laws and traditions of the UK? Is it racist to ask those who come her to be part of our culture, life, and principles? Is it racist to send home those who threaten lives or incite hatred against the wider society?

Last year the retiring Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks suggested multiculturalism creates a society where “everyone is a guest”, and went on to call for a “multi-ethnic” society not multi-cultured. In essence multicultural means many cultures rubbing along together, all trying to understand and respect each other. But what happens when things rub? Friction, heat and then worse. Lord Sacks went on to say multiculturalism in Britain has “had its day” having led to “segregation and inward looking communities”. Is he a racist for say that? Am I a racist for expanding on it?

We must stop being afraid of a debate on immigration and the many unique cultures that live in the UK. We must control our boarders, know who is coming in and out and we must stop saying ‘I’m not being racist but’ every time we dare to express a view that might offend someone. Free speech is just one of the many reasons why we are all here and free speech might just achieve a multi ethnic, broad, mono cultured society that we can all live in, happily.

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