I have been having another wee think over the weekend about the EU having watched a little more of the debate about our membership, I even watched the debate from Glasgow on catch up where Alex Salmond stole the show and put forward a very compelling case to Remain.
One of issues that makes me sometimes consider a leave vote is the failure of the EU to reform. I believe it needs to reform it’s agricultural policy making it more environmentally friendly and protecting the smaller farmers and producers. The EU is also still pretty much in recession resulting in greater movement for economic reasons. I’m not sure if the answer is more regulation or less but better regulation but one area I would like to see is a more universal social security system across the EU. The UK, while allegedly having a stronger economy, has some of the poorest safety nets for it citizens. I would like to see the EU intervene more to ensure that EU citizens have a basic standard of living across the EU and not the poverty and starvation system we currently have in the UK.
The EU also feels very remote, how many of us are aware of the decisions it takes! Very few of us. I know that I am very ignorant of the day-to-day decisions taken by the EU so maybe there needs to be greater transparency and a requirement for the EU to inform all citizens of what is going on. I appreciate that is no easy task but possibly the EU should do a simplified annual report that we all receive in whatever format we prefer, most people might not read such a thing but at least it would be there.
The EU holds an awful lot of power, and this power appears to be held by very few people who are less than willing to be transparent about what they do with our trust and our money, TTIP being an example. Governments like the Conservative one we currently have push for greater liberalization, deregulation and privatisation of vital public services, supported by the likes of Germany and France we have seen the results of this being forced on Greece. We have suffered from this type of policy in the UK for the last 40 years. This privatisation has often resulted in the selling off of public assets into the hands of the few, and in the Tories case, their friends. Would a leave vote result in this policy being revisited and pressure put on the few to change this approach which has had dire consequences over the years for too many.
In my opinion, in the EU, we are seeing a widening gap between the rich and poor, low wages and poor employment rights, as we see in the UK and France, are now the norm or are being proposed. As I noted earlier social security systems in the UK, but also in many EU countries, are suffering massive cutbacks. Pension levels are falling as was highlighted on Welcome to Misery for British OAPs today and our standard of healthcare is deteriorating. Unemployment has reached record levels across Europe, esp for young people. Social protection has reached the point where the extreme political far right across many EU countries pose a political threat to our stability and security. This drift to the far right, in my opinion, is a rejection of the right of centre neo liberal governments in too many of our countries when what we need is a more socially democratic and socially liberal approach.
So maybe a leave vote would force the EU to seriously consider and bring about reform, serious reform that we could then vote on to change a leave vote to a remain vote. I think the shock of a UK exit might just be the thing that brings about real change.
Or is it a risk too far?
I remain undecided as to how I will vote and really need to continue to find out what others think and try to find out more facts and not fear.