There was a big response when Voice of the North ran ‘unknown man in the street’ Geoffrey White’s article on why he would vote Remain in the coming EU referendum.
In this article, international journalist, wife and mother FIONA WINGETT takes him to task. . .
UNUSUALLY for me, with the big EU referendum vote looming, I am still undecided whether to Brexit or Bremain. One thing about which I AM certain , however, is that Geoffrey White’s much-lauded ‘Stay In’ argument is a plea based on chocolate box sentimentalism.
His is not a position based on causal effect, merely an affirmation that he is old enough to remember the aftermath of the Second World War and an emotional description of what people in Britain had to endure as a result of going to the aid of its neighbours while, at the same time, saving itself.
Membership of the EU did not cause many of the things White uses as ‘facts’ to make his argument; to mention them in a polemical case for Britain to ‘Bremain’ loads his argument with non sequiturs, making it irrelevant.
Examples? Let’s look at some of them:
• What is the point of talking about post-war currency arrangements? The country was broke after a war which cost tens of millions of lives and unimaginable resources in order to save Europe. Of course there were currency restrictions: the country was trying to rebuild.
• The term ‘ever closer union’ may be taken now as the creation of a single, Federal state which would involve us being ruled by unelected bureaucrats but that was not the understanding of those who voted ‘in’ and pursued membership in the Sixties and Seventies. Back then it was merely a trading bloc.
• Geoff White mentions the death penalty but where was the EU’s involvement in ending the death penalty in the UK? The last state hanging in England took place in 1964 and capital punishment was abolished for murder a year later. In France it was abolished in 1981, in Poland in 1997, in Spain in 1978 ( and then only completely in 1995).
• Women continue to be paid less than men for doing the same jobs. Using this as an argument to Remain demonstrates a breathtaking ignorance of wage equality in modern Britain.
• There is little consolation in bringing legislation involving gay men and acts of gross indecency into the EU debate, as White does? When it comes to to gay rights, Germany still has not legalised same-sex marriage and neither have Poland, Italy, Greece and many others. In fact, only 13 countries of the 28 have adopted the British standard.
• An argument about Brits moving to Europe to look for work is predicated on the fact there was a TV series called Auf Wiedersehn, Pet. Seriously? Is that seriously the best argument he can come up with?
• The fact that there have been no wars between EU member states does not imply a causal link.
Those who rave about this article have been caught up by White’s rose-tinted view of Europe, his sentimentality and warping of the reality of the aftermath of the Second World War, his lack of factual information or the relevance of his description of what this country once was.
Has everyone taken leave of their senses in this, one of the most important debates we are likely to face in a generation or more?
Please don’t accept as ‘facts’ the musing and meanderings of ill-referenced and non-factual accounts. Keep your head. Try and see through the ‘facts’ that are being presented by both sides. Then make your decision.
.That’s what I am trying to do.
Interesting article, as was Geoffrey White’s. Know which way I plan to vote, but still listening to all arguments. Why can’t they provide a balanced approach, showing the pros and the cons so people can make up their minds?????
Would be interested to know where this “big response” is, as not on this website.
‘Big’ as in responses to our alerts through social media, MARGARET, and through personal emails as well as reactions like yours here on the Voice of the North site. I would prefer ALL comments to come direct to VoTN and have resorted, you might have noticed, to emphasising the Leave A Comment tag with an extra red-ink reminder. Sadly, it does not always work. Frustrating but true!
The people who want to remain are trying to protect industry that has been built on gold plating EU diktat.
Having worked for over 35 years overseas and with consortiums with other EU member states we Brits were always ridiculed over the fact that number crunchers and penpushers enlarged every edict from Brussels.
Even as recent as my last overseas assignment within a consortium of French, Italien and German companies we were ridiculed as to our approach to EU orders. Most said “You Brits are stupid! If we do not like the edict we shrug and throw it in bin!”
Perhaps rather than thinking that Geoffrey White is putting a rose-tint on the EU as it currently exists and attacking his historical accuracy, his comment should be taken more as a reminder that before the EU, we didn’t “manage perfectly well for thousands of years” as Leave supporters keep saying. The early and mid twentieth century were bleak times for many people in the UK and abroad. We should look around now at where we are and what we have got – things could be much worse and our greed to have things better than they are should not lead us to risk making a decision which could make our own country, and many other countries worse off.
J.S. I agree with you. Thank you.
Geoffrey. Your article was great. A piece of history that put things perfectly in perspective without claiming to be a cause-effect analysis of the UK’s membership of the EU. For me Brexit is a modern English (not British) identity crisis, mostly nostalgia for the past when Britain was great, led by the English of course, and a leap of faith that it will be again. That is real chocolate box sentimentality. But Britain (England) was only great at others’ expense. Ask Scotland, Ireland, India, China, Africa, etc.). Doubt they’ll let it happen again. Most EU countries went through something similar but people there seem now mature enough to realise they are best off as part of a modern European club. What a tragedy if it’s only realised in the UK after it has left.
Exactly Patricia. Brexit is an aftershock from the explosion of the Empire. And thank you for not accusing me of asserting that all of the positive changes were a result of our membership of the EU.
There is no diktat from the EU. The EU has a parliament. Every member state has MEPs. The UK has many, in fact, the highest number possible, due to the country’s size. Parliament makes the decisions, not the European Commission. These are just some of the facts that are missing in this debate in the run-up to the referendum. It is shocking that so many British citizens don’t know these facts. I’m not British – so in other words, I’m an immigrant – but I do come from a country which has direct democracy. Several times a year we vote on numerous issues. We are well informed about our institutions, and what they do (or don’t do), and it is expected of us to understand this so we can make informed decisions. The scaremongering still happens, but it is not taken seriously. Scaremongering is a sign of desperation, and it is never based on facts. What is truly frightening, though, is the realisation that the Leave campaign has so far sought no advice from the countries which are part of the European Economic Area but not members of the EU, and what this means for them, and what this has meant for them in the past, how isolated they were, and how long it took them to negotiate all the deals with the EU, and what it had cost them (and still does). If a minority comes along and wants to join a club, it jolly well adapts to the majority… and has no say. Is that the free and independent Britain of the future? Why would Britain want to give up its voice in the EU but still need to adhere to all the rules and regulations? This is not chocolate box sentimentality – this is a very bitter pill to swallow!