David Wilson outlines the cultural and political motivations behind his decision to vote to leave the EU.
Sadly, the EU Referendum debate has been characterised by fear, black propaganda and downright lies; on both sides. This has only served to harden and further polarise opinion between the remain and leave camps. Ultimately the mud -slinging has robbed the people of Britain of an opportunity to make an informed decision. I suppose it was inevitable in a game of such high stakes that the gloves would come off; bare knuckle fighting was never this brutal was it?
Leading up to the referendum on June 23rd, we’ll be publishing some key figures’ arguments for and against remaining in the EU.
Personally I see little point now in arguing whether we will be economically better off, worse off or neutral if we remain or leave; a hundred economists would give you a hundred different answers anyway. Will immigration go down, remain the same or even go up if we remain or leave; who knows. Ditto for trade, the strength of sterling, the future of the NHS and a whole host of other factors. The waters have been muddied beyond any hope of clarity.
So, where do I stand in this once-in-a-lifetime referendum? Being a landscape photographer you might imagine I would fall into line with the over-whelming consensus amongst the creative industries and vote to remain. Well, you would be wrong. I will be voting to leave.
Primarily I am voting to leave not because of the economics, sterling, immigration, trade; all of which statistically are open to manipulation from both sides. I am voting to leave in order to uphold the cultural diversity and sovereignty of the nation states of Europe. A grandiose statement perhaps but one which goes to the very heart of the debate.
This ‘one size fits all’ approach of the EU allied to its undemocratic and unaccountable constitution causes me great concern. When we joined the then EEC in 1973 it was primarily a customs union; tariff-free trade between member states with tariffs applied to goods coming in from outside of the union. Inevitably though the political strand of this organisation gained ascendancy. It is in the nature of all burgeoning political bodies to grab more and more power. What we have now is an EU that is primarily a political union with trade as a secondary adjunct.
The introduction of the Euro signalled the true intent of this political union; to drive forward harmonisation of law-making and fiscal policy within the EU, particularly the Eurozone, of which thankfully we are not a part. You cannot have a successful common currency without law-making and fiscal powers concentrated in one body. This inevitably entails the increased neutering of national sovereign governments. If you read quotes from commissioners and presidents going back decades the one desire and goal that repeats itself time and again is the drive towards a United States of Europe. A federated continent where the current sovereign parliaments of the countries making up the EU will become regional assemblies utterly subservient to the supremacy of Brussels. This homogenisation will destroy the cultural diversity of our vibrant continent.
This super-state direction of travel might be palatable if the EU were proving to be a run away success. But the recent experiences of Greece and to a lesser extent Spain and Italy undermine completely the template the EU is slavishly following. If it were a military organisation it would be suffering from mission over-reach, biting off more than it can chew.
And the plight of Greece is the real clincher for me. Greece was never a genuine candidate for membership of the Eurozone. Its weak economy and truly Byzantine public sector practices meant it was total madness to ever imagine it could share the same currency as an economic ‘superpower’ such as Germany. But doctrinal insistence that Greece satisfied the strict criteria for entry to the Euro (accountants call it cooking the books) got them into the club. Suddenly having traded in the under-powered Trabant of the Drachma for the high-performance Ferrari of the Euro they roared out onto the credit highway. There was no end to the loans the government and its citizens could secure; German-made goods being particularly popular. Anyone seen the 2004 Greek Olympic village lately? An overgrown wasteland of cracked concrete and broken windows; utterly deserted and a suitable metaphor for the country. Youth unemployment 51% (45% in Spain). The Euro club has been catastrophic for Greece.
And what is the EU’s answer to the Greek debt mountain? Political expediency demands that the Greek government implement austerity super-max to qualify for the drip-feeding of bailout money with which the Greeks pay their creditors. These payments hardly cover the interest on the debt. The Greek people are living in increasingly third-world conditions just to maintain the sickening pretence of fiscal normality in the Eurozone. Ask yourself this: if the EU can dictate such destructive domestic policy to a sovereign nation such as Greece now, what on earth will it be like in ten or twenty years’ time when it is the de-facto sovereign government of Europe.
We can trade with Europe and still be Great Britain.