So over the weekend my EU Referendum postal vote arrived. Notwithstanding that I think it arrived a little bit early, emblazoned on the front of the envelope was the injunction to complete it and send it back immediately. So right there on a postal vote that has arrived nearly a month before the actual polling day was a command to make a decision before the full campaign is over. Now obviously if I am to ensure my vote is counted then I will need to post my vote in time for it to arrive, unless I take it and hand it in to the polling station, so I will miss the last days of the campaign. However I don’t think that I should send my vote back with such a significant portion of the campaign still to unfold. Anything could occur that might sway my vote, it is unlikely, but I for one would feel remiss if I didn’t allow for the possibility that the other campaign might come up with something so compelling and authoritative that it alters my thinking. I don’t think such instructions should be on the envelope of your postal ballot paper, a reminder to ensure it is back by polling day fine but to suggest that the vote needs to be determined and cast before the full campaign has unfolded or at least a significant portion of it has is to me plain wrong.
Having said that I am clinging onto my uncast vote for a little while longer to see how the next couple of weeks unfolds I may get to a point where I am too depressed to bother. The campaign has not been brilliant, or anything even approaching mediocre. It has been unutterably terrible. There is fault undoubtedly on both sides, neither campaign has been hugely inspiring. However the approach being taken by the Leave campaign and more especially by Conservative elements in the Leave campaign leaves a great deal to be desired. It is clear that our international partners, respected independent bodies and many others believe that remaining in the European Union is the best option for the UK. It is absolutely and perfectly acceptable to disagree with that contention. However to disparage those who make the argument, question the credibility of or simply dismiss without any countervailing argument is just not on.
International figures have been attacked in the bitterest of terms, these are the same people that the Leave camp then believes will roll over and hand out favourable trade deals on demand like sweets. Respected independent bodies have been disparaged in grotesque terms, had their independence questioned, and been subjected to all manner of vitriol. One thing that amuses me in all this is that the bodies in question wouldn’t have gained the respect they enjoy had they not been independent and trustworthy in regards to their work and politicians with zero track record in these matters look faintly ridiculous attacking them.
One thing that has seriously annoyed me in the campaign is the Leave sides contention and the lynchpin of their campaign that we send £350m a week to Brussels. The official statistician in the toned down language of officialdom has called bullshit on this. The figure takes zero account of the rebate and no account of the EU funds spend in this country, much of which would probably need to be replicated at least initially post an EU exit. Even disregarding the second point the claim by the Leave side is akin to walking into the supermarket and seeing an item marked half price, purchasing it and then telling everyone you paid full price for it. There is a word for what the Leave side is doing with regards to the £350m claim; lying.
The next part where the Leave side is being disingenuous at the very least is on migration. Recently there were banner headlines prompted by the Leave campaign that tens of millions of Turkish people would flood into the UK if that country joined the EU. The numbers were ridiculous to anyone with access to the internet and a calculator. The figure bandied about was around 1/6 of the entire population of Turkey. The idea that that volume of humanity would up sticks from Turkey and suddenly arrive at Heathrow or elsewhere within a few days of Turkish accession is fantasy. This was scaremongering pure and simple, and real scaremongering not the mislabelled version levelled at Remain when they point out harsh economic reality.
The final thing we have seen is some pretty glorious double standards on behalf of Leave campaigners and mainly the Conservative ones. Conservative Leave campaigners are free to campaign for what they believe in however the Conservative Prime Minister is behaving outrageously when he does the same. Conservative Leave campaigners are free to campaign with like minded people from across the political spectrum including Labour figures, when the PM does it it’s outrageous. The Prime Minister has a view, he is as entitled to campaign for his view as anyone else is for theirs. The only thing that is outrageous is the attacks on the PM for doing what he is entitled to do. Finally I would say to Conservative Leave campaigners that the vote on 23rd June is an In/Out referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union not an In/Out referendum on David Cameron’s occupancy of Downing St.