This is our truth, tell us yours
‘You put your left arm in, your left arm out, in out in out, shake it all about,
You do the hokey cockey and you turn around, that’s what it’s all about.’
Welcome, dear readers to the EU hokey cokey.
Over the next four months it’s going to be a long and tedious set of non-debates, with increasingly shopsoiled soundbites being shouted at opponents who aren’t listening by participants who are beyond caring.
The name calling has started already. Anyone who decides to vote to leave the EU risks being askedhow they feel about being on the same side as Nigel Farage and George Galloway. Now, let’s leave aside for the moment that both Nigel Farage and George Galloway seem better suited to the Allo Allo version of the Hokey Cokey.
You put your left boot in, You take your left boot out
You do a lot of shouting, And you shake your fist about
You light a little smokey, And you burn down the town
That’s what it’s all about
The problem for those on the In side of the debate is that being in favour of the UK remaining in the EU means being on the same side of the debate as George Osborne, Nick Clegg and various Nationalist parties. It’s going to be an unedifying debate.
I am remarkably agnostic on the whole topic. When two or three people interested in democracy are gathered together, there’s always someone who will insist that to abstain is to spit in the face of the chartists, the suffragettes, the diggers, the levellers and the ghost of Tony Benn. However, for a vote to be meaningful it has to be a vote that will change something, and I’ve yet to be persuaded that a vote in the referenedum on 23rd June will change something.
It’s an unpopular opinion amongst some of my friends, almost as unpopular as my opinion that, on the whole, MEPs are the least qualified and least gainfully employed layer of politicians in the UK. (A good diagnostic as to whether someone is a political geek is to ask them to name their regional MEPs- very few of the general population will get close.) The EU, in the main, is an over-rated organization, a shabby collection of compromises designed to protect inadequate farmers and continental heavy industry. The UK has always been semi detatched from Europe,and has adopted its own, Quixotic approach to European regulation, so that British services have been opened up to competition, mainly from European state providers of the self same services. The notion that the EU has been universally a force for good is over-sold; British trades unions were fighting and winning battles for equal pay and better conditions before the UK ever joined the EU, despite what some MEPs like to claim.
I can’t think of another political occasion when I’ve been so ambivalent about deciding which side I’m on. Neither side has a clear vision of what Europe is for, and neither is addressing the isues in a positive way. It could be a long four months.