’75 and all that

The last time this happened I was 15. The digital age hadn’t quite kicked off. Vinyl records and cassette tapes were hip. Monty Python made us laugh and the film Jaws was released. In 1975 the Conservative Party selected its first female leader; Margaret Thatcher. North Sea Oil started to flow but on the down side Dutch elm disease killed over 3 million Elm trees.
I remember the following year with more affection but there is no doubt that the consequences of 1975 shaped my working life. UK voters said “yes” in the referendum on staying in the European Community on 6th June 1975. Living in the countryside, where farming was the main stay, I was never far from a debate on the Common Market. The two opposing camps were just as vigorous then as they are now.
Taking a lesson from that time, it’s perfectly clear to me that young people have the most to gain by remaining in Europe and the most to lose by leaving. For me, Europe has provided challenges, opportunities and rewards. I dread to think what the UK would look like now if that referendum had turned out differently.
It’s also perfectly clear to me that predicting the future is mighty difficult. Going back to the start of the digital age there was predictions that we would work less and have more leisure to fill our time. At least one prediction came true the common market became a much bigger single market. Working together, removing trade barriers and free movement has created a brighter future.
This time I will have a vote. In this crucial referendum I will vote to REMAIN in the EU.

Holidays in the sun

We Brits love our week in the sun. Pile them high and sell them cheap. Holiday companies fight tooth and nail for our hard earned cash. Prices are highly competitive. Choice is plentiful. New deals are always springing up. All that in a European Union where countries are happy to see us.
What’s that got to do with the EU? – I hear you say. Well there are several critical points to explore on the subject of travel. Today, we take a lot for granted but you only have to look back at the TV of the 1960s to see enormous change. Foreign travel was for the glamourous wealthy few as often depicted by the likes of Simon Templar (The Saint). Yes, I am a fan of Roger Moore.
Europe has taken down barriers and made it easier for us to go where we wish. In the last 20 years low-cost flying has grown to offer flights to all corners of Europe. Competition has brought real customer benefits. The EU single market and its lowering of regulatory barriers has made this possible. Even when you want to call home the EU helps by forcing down mobile phone roaming charges.
Not only is the EU good for the traveller but it’s good for the environment. EU funding of projects like the Single European Sky make more efficient use of our airspace.
Eurosceptics are calling for an uncertain leap into the dark. One thing is certain; outside the EU it will not be so easy to get from A to B on the continent. Why go back to the 1960s?

That leaflet

It’s the size of a medium sized envelope. Its’ a combination of pictures and words. Its’ a got some Conservative MPs in a tizzy. The subject is a leaflet that puts the Government’s case for remaining in the EU. One arrived on my doorstep yesterday morning.
First reaction I had was; what’s all the fuss about this is rather modest. I expected something in dayglow pink, with loud headlines and grandiose claims. What I got was clear, concise and straightforward. The Government has every right to state its point of view. The Government believes the UK should remain in the EU. It would be irresponsible for them not to tell us, the voters, its reasoning.
Any kind of professional public communication costs money. The alternative is to be a secretive Government with no regard for accountability, openness and transparency. Yes, this current administration can be criticised on the issue of communication but not in this case. Starting a lengthy debate on the cost of the leaflet is a pure distraction.
If the campaigners to leave the EU are so concerned why is there no alternative text? It may be because there is no single policy position that can written down and agree between all the bickering Eurosceptic groups. For example; one group would want to whack-up tariffs and start a trade war with China and another group would run a mile before suggesting such action.
Britain is stronger, safer and better off in Europe. The messages are worth repeating. There are many reasons to REMAIN in the EU and this leaflet provides one selection.

Take with one hand

Headlines are chasing one story: Tax. Who pays it and who should pay it? The old saying about nothing is more enduring than death and taxes is being played out in public. It’s quite appropriately so. This is the real meat of political debate. Along with security, it’s probably the most important debate that takes place in parliaments and councils. Without public funds we can’t have the public services that we demand and expect. However, if Governments take too much out of people’s pockets they stifle the creativity and dynamism that drives improvements in life.
Inheritance Tax is generally disliked because it takes a slice out of money passed from one generation to another. In the UK, Inheritance Tax receipts were around £3.8 billion in 2014-15 and have been rising.
The way this tax is levied is a sovereign matter and wholly the responsibility of the politicians in Westminster. Whereas LEAVE campaigners are wrongly arguing that the majority of our laws come from the EU; this is clearly shown to be nonsense. Here we have the most important act a government can take and it has nothing whatsoever to do with Europe.
On the positive side, the EU has been investigating the way in which large multinational corporations shift their money around to avoid National taxes. In fact, the EU offers the best way of calling large international companies, with a wealth bigger than some countries, to account. Its only by looking at the big picture can measures be designed to stop large scale tax avoidance. Another good reason to REMAIN in the EU.

The clock is ticking

It’s the biggest event since the Berlin Wall fell. Yes, not to mince my words the UK referendum on EU membership could change the political landscape for a generation or more. It could be a terrible gamble that erects dark walls all over Europe or it could start a new period of enlightenment within the European project.
I’m firmly convinced that our place is in Europe. We are strong enough, we are clever enough and we are determined enough to make that project work. What a bonus that would be: Expanding a market that covers half a billion people on our doorstep. Guaranteeing that the world sits-up and listens to Europe. Unlocking a diverse creative powerhouse where the UK would thrive.
The frightening alternative is to gamble with millions of jobs and invite a plunge into recension. If this happens it’s the younger generation who will pay the price. We should not condemn them to isolation and struggle for reasons of narrow nationalism.
I’m not saying the EU is perfect. In fact, I wouldn’t say Westminster or my local council are perfect – far from it. But the EU is a work-in-progress and not a finished project. It’s better for British pragmatism. It’s a two-way street as free movement brings people to these shores who then go home with a positive view of what we have to offer. In the next generation that means more trade and better international relations.
This referendum needs thinking about. Voting on the basis of yesterday’s headline could invite a nightmare of unimaginable proportions. Let’s fight our corner in Europe.