It’s Remain from me

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I am aware I have devoted little time to the political issue of the moment, which is the EU referendum campaign. I am equally aware some have asked me to elaborate on my previously stated opinion that I will vote yes.

I have reflected on this and for three reasons have little to add. Firstly, as I explained before, decisions such as this cannot be entirely rational. I keep hearing people demanding facts on which to make up their minds. I have to be honest; such facts are and will always be in short supply. I happen to think those from the Remain camp are more honest than those from Leave, where the £350 million a week figure is blatantly untrue, but to be precise about costs and forecasts is not possible, so sentiment has to be the basis for any decision on thus issue.

Second, I am aware that the Charity Commission have warned against anyone with charity funding (and I do) engaging in this debate without an evidence base, and as I have just noted, this is limited in the case of economics.

Third, I have then to look at this issue using other criteria. There are several of these.

The first is as as a person whose family includes economic migrants who have, I think, benefitted the UK. Whilst recognising the stress migration can cause I do not think that this issue can be better addressed by the UK in isolation. And I do believe that migration is a net and very powerful gain to the UK, overall. I could not vote for something that would, if a situation was repeated now, potentially exclude many in my family from this country.

Then I look at the economic facts that concern me most and note that the EU has been good for that part of society that is most important to me. The EU has been a powerful force for good in employee and women's rights and continues, overall, to be so. Many rights now taken for granted happened because of EU law, and I value that. Saying so, I also recognise that the EU has been a powerful force in reinforcing the rights of capital and by doing so it has contributed to an undoubted increase in inequality. This I accept. But I think that would have happened anyway.  The wave of neoliberalism that swept the world from 1980 would have resulted in this outcome in the UK come what may, and might even have been worse without the EU. I have in this context previously noted the powerful and pioneering role of the EU in tackling tax abuse, for example, via the EU Code of Conduct, which was exceptional when introduced, and the EU Savings Tax Directive. Again, then, I see a net powerful contribution.

Last I look to the future. I make no prediction beyond believing that we face a period of profound change which will be stressful. It is my belief that to face that stress in an environment where mechanisms to manage some of those international strains exist is better than to do so in a situation where perpetual small-minded and self-interested threat is the weapon of choice, as those suggesting leaving the EU seem to think the available option to be. Cooperation will not always result in perfect outcomes, and I will sometimes be disappointed. But again this is a balancing act and I believe there is an overall better chance of managing change within rather than out if the EU.

I campaigned for staying in the EU in 1975. I have not changed my mind, although I am not campaigning now and explain my rationale only because I have been asked to do so. But nothing suggests leaving makes any sense to me.

What I do regret is the time and effort, and potential damage that this referendum has caused. This to me is the biggest indicator of political failure in the UK. And that may be both good reason to stay in the EU and the greatest cause of concern.