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.