Thursday, January 28, 2016

Even for a Europhile like me there are some dodgy goings on in the "Remain" cause which I don't like.

For this Europhile, whilst I fervently want the unnecessary referendum on Britain's membership of the EU to be successfully out of the way, the means don't necessarily justify the ends. Open borders is a key principle of the EU. There is no way around this. If you're a member you accept that your citizens have the right to live and work anywhere across the 28 member countries. And vice versa of course. The refugees in Calais have nothing to do with this. They are not EU citizens and have no rights of residence anywhere in the EU. They do have the human right to be referred to less contemptuously by our Prime Minister. But they have nothing to do with Britain's membership of the Union.

Dog Whistle politics bring the whole political class into disrepute. The EU Referendum  campaign is already in the gutter before it has really started. The very premise that the UK is renegotiating the terms of its EU membership is a lie. A few minor adjustments on the edges of our obligations as an EU member do not a successful renegotiation make! It's the old marketers game - find something of high perceived value and make it seem more valuable than it really is. Hence all the nonsense over non British EU citizens right to benefits if resident in the UK. It's a very minor issue indeed. But Cameron is focusing on it because he thinks it has high communications value and will prove the pseudo-negotiations have succeeded. Baloney!

Membership of the EU as I say brings wth it free movement of Labour (and Capital of course). This free movement may also mean migration, but the two things are not synonymous. Your Polish plumber is unlikely to be a migrant, he's far more likely to be a GastArbeider who will eventually return to his home Country. The actual number of EU citizens who actually want to make permanent homes in Britain is far less than the number who are presently working here. 

"Immigration" is a code word for "multiculturalism" for many and it's this that UKIP and others seek to exploit in the EU debate.  Some people don't like our multicultural cities (a status which has little to do with the EU of course) and unscrupulous politicians seek to exploit this. "Immigration" becomes important in the EU debate even though in reality it is a subject that is in principle non-negotiable and in fact fairly unimportant! 

As I said I want Britain to remain a member of the European Union and I hope that we will choose to do so. But I don't welcome the lies and obfuscation creeping into the "Remain" campaign's rhetoric and communications. The case for membership is strong. We don't need to play dog whistle politics to win the argument. 


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