steepholm: (tree_face)
At the beginning of the EU campaign I started a "bullshit arguments" tag, with the thought that I might highlight any particularly tendentious, emotive or illogical tactics used by either side. I haven't kept it up, though, because it would have meant transcribing pretty much every news bulletin in its entirety.

I was, and am, far from enamoured of the EU, and was genuinely on the fence at the start. However, I will now almost certainly vote to stay in, because no even vaguely acceptable alternative is available. To vote to leave has become synonymous with a vote against immigration, against workers' and environmental protections, and for economic neo-liberalism. It's very clear that all these - laced with coded and not-so-coded racism - are what we'd get in the event of an Out vote.

It absolutely didn't have to be that way: there are other models that an independent Britain might have followed, but at this time there is no group both willing and able to bring them to existence, or even to talk about them as a possibility. So, the choice is: EU, warts and all; or else a UK stripped of everything that's actually valuable and worth having about the EU. It's not really a choice, is it?
steepholm: (Default)
At the beginning of the EU campaign I started a "bullshit arguments" tag, with the thought that I might highlight any particularly tendentious, emotive or illogical tactics used by either side. I haven't kept it up, though, because it would have meant transcribing pretty much every news bulletin in its entirety.

I was, and am, far from enamoured of the EU, and was genuinely on the fence at the start. However, I will now almost certainly vote to stay in, because no even vaguely acceptable alternative is available. To vote to leave has become synonymous with a vote against immigration, against workers' and environmental protections, and for economic neo-liberalism. It's very clear that all these - laced with coded and not-so-coded racism - are what we'd get in the event of an Out vote.

It absolutely didn't have to be that way: there are other models that an independent Britain might have followed, but at this time there is no group both willing and able to bring them to existence, or even to talk about them as a possibility. So, the choice is: EU, warts and all; or else a UK stripped of everything that's actually valuable and worth having about the EU. It's not really a choice, is it?
steepholm: (tree_face)
Not for the first time, I find myself agreeing with Jeremy Corbyn.

On the one hand...

... I don't like or trust the EU, especially in terms of its lack of democracy and its willingness to negotiate free trade deals involving assymetrical arrangements for US corporations to sue EU governments should they put their citizens' interests ahead of those of said corporations. (And if that's not what's in TTIP, they're doing a very poor job of advertising what is in TTIP.)

On the other hand...

... the Brexiters are a such a motley bunch of capitalist ideologues, racists and chancers that I find it hard to imagine delivering the country into their hands either. Corbyn talked about the consequent "bonfire of workers' rights", but to that we might add the bonfire of environmental and social protections.

As for the economics - I don't know, and I'm not convinced anyone does. On balance, I'm inclined to hold my nose with Corbyn, or abstain for the first time in my life, or perhaps donate my vote to my daughter, who'll be a few weeks short of her majority on 23 June, and is after all likely to be affected by the outcome for longer than I am.

Meanwhile, I have largely stopped logging things under "bullshit arguments" because life is too short, but I was struck by Stephen Kinnock's response to Boris Johnson's pointing out (correctly) that the US would never dream of pooling its sovereignty in the way that membership of the EU entails, to the effect that it already does so by being a member of NATO and the WTO, as if those were in any way comparable. I despise Johnson, but I also don't like having my intelligence insulted by Kinnock. There are far more effective ways he might have answered (for example by pointing out that the USA's size and wealth allow it to do things that the UK never could) than with this childish misdirection.

That was topped today, however, by Angela Eagle, who apparently said:

“There are no countries that trade with the European Union that don’t have to accept free movement, that don’t end up paying virtually the same that we pay into the European budget."

China? Japan? The USA? They have to accept free movement and pay into the EU budget in order to trade with the EU? Please.

So far this debate has sucked harder than a vacuum pump.
steepholm: (Default)
Not for the first time, I find myself agreeing with Jeremy Corbyn.

On the one hand...

... I don't like or trust the EU, especially in terms of its lack of democracy and its willingness to negotiate free trade deals involving assymetrical arrangements for US corporations to sue EU governments should they put their citizens' interests ahead of those of said corporations. (And if that's not what's in TTIP, they're doing a very poor job of advertising what is in TTIP.)

On the other hand...

... the Brexiters are a such a motley bunch of capitalist ideologues, racists and chancers that I find it hard to imagine delivering the country into their hands either. Corbyn talked about the consequent "bonfire of workers' rights", but to that we might add the bonfire of environmental and social protections.

As for the economics - I don't know, and I'm not convinced anyone does. On balance, I'm inclined to hold my nose with Corbyn, or abstain for the first time in my life, or perhaps donate my vote to my daughter, who'll be a few weeks short of her majority on 23 June, and is after all likely to be affected by the outcome for longer than I am.

Meanwhile, I have largely stopped logging things under "bullshit arguments" because life is too short, but I was struck by Stephen Kinnock's response to Boris Johnson's pointing out (correctly) that the US would never dream of pooling its sovereignty in the way that membership of the EU entails, to the effect that it already does so by being a member of NATO and the WTO, as if those were in any way comparable. I despise Johnson, but I also don't like having my intelligence insulted by Kinnock. There are far more effective ways he might have answered (for example by pointing out that the USA's size and wealth allow it to do things that the UK never could) than with this childish misdirection.

That was topped today, however, by Angela Eagle, who apparently said:

“There are no countries that trade with the European Union that don’t have to accept free movement, that don’t end up paying virtually the same that we pay into the European budget."

China? Japan? The USA? They have to accept free movement and pay into the EU budget in order to trade with the EU? Please.

So far this debate has sucked harder than a vacuum pump.
steepholm: (tree_face)
It's a bit rich for Boris Johnson and others to complain that David Cameron and the Stay campaign are pursuing "Project Fear". After all, that's the way Cameron has always campaigned, and most of the time Johnson has been cheering him on. The Scottish referendum was Project Fear (Scotland would be cast adrift, unable to enter the EU); the last election was Project Fear (Nicola Sturgeon would keep Ed Miliband locked in a cellar). It's worked well in the past; of course the EU referendum is going to be Project Fear too. Cameron has no positive vision of anything, as far as I can see.

So yes, of course Project Fear exists - and rain is wet. Still, it would be good to have a better sense from the Stay campaign of why one should want to vote to remain, other than "To avoid this long catalogue of disasters." The few attempts to do so tend to strike a rather unpalatable of "We will get special treatment because we're special" note, which makes me uncomfortable in itself and can hardly endear us to our neighbours. Ironically, of course, some of the things that actually give the most benefit to UK voters individually - such as the ability to move around and live anywhere in the EU - are those that they feel they can't be vocal about, because while freedom of movement is a good thing for us, it's a very bad one when foreigners have it, don'tcha know?

On the other hand, the Leave camp's Positive Vision seems even more negative. A chance to strip workers (and others) of their rights; a chance to introduce Farage's dream of an "Australian style points-based system" for immigration, which boils down to a) indirect discrimination in favour of white people, and/or b) letting poor countries pay to educate their young, then skimming them off to come and work for us - which we do a fair bit of already, but would be ramped up in the brave new Britain.

So, I'm still on the fence - and considering tunnelling under the fence and making for a different continent entirely (Antarctica is nice at this time of year). Still, it's early days: perhaps Donald Trump will invade us and we can stop worrying about it?
steepholm: (Default)
It's a bit rich for Boris Johnson and others to complain that David Cameron and the Stay campaign are pursuing "Project Fear". After all, that's the way Cameron has always campaigned, and most of the time Johnson has been cheering him on. The Scottish referendum was Project Fear (Scotland would be cast adrift, unable to enter the EU); the last election was Project Fear (Nicola Sturgeon would keep Ed Miliband locked in a cellar). It's worked well in the past; of course the EU referendum is going to be Project Fear too. Cameron has no positive vision of anything, as far as I can see.

So yes, of course Project Fear exists - and rain is wet. Still, it would be good to have a better sense from the Stay campaign of why one should want to vote to remain, other than "To avoid this long catalogue of disasters." The few attempts to do so tend to strike a rather unpalatable of "We will get special treatment because we're special" note, which makes me uncomfortable in itself and can hardly endear us to our neighbours. Ironically, of course, some of the things that actually give the most benefit to UK voters individually - such as the ability to move around and live anywhere in the EU - are those that they feel they can't be vocal about, because while freedom of movement is a good thing for us, it's a very bad one when foreigners have it, don'tcha know?

On the other hand, the Leave camp's Positive Vision seems even more negative. A chance to strip workers (and others) of their rights; a chance to introduce Farage's dream of an "Australian style points-based system" for immigration, which boils down to a) indirect discrimination in favour of white people, and/or b) letting poor countries pay to educate their young, then skimming them off to come and work for us - which we do a fair bit of already, but would be ramped up in the brave new Britain.

So, I'm still on the fence - and considering tunnelling under the fence and making for a different continent entirely (Antarctica is nice at this time of year). Still, it's early days: perhaps Donald Trump will invade us and we can stop worrying about it?
steepholm: (tree_face)
I'm too lazy to go through Boris Johnson's list of lies and half-truths about EU legislation, so on this occasion I'll let the FT do it for me.

Or, for those who prefer to hear much the same information rather than read it, here is Eddie Mair on today's PM (start at 53.24).
steepholm: (Default)
I'm too lazy to go through Boris Johnson's list of lies and half-truths about EU legislation, so on this occasion I'll let the FT do it for me.

Or, for those who prefer to hear much the same information rather than read it, here is Eddie Mair on today's PM (start at 53.24).
steepholm: (tree_face)
I really don't know at this point how I'm going to vote in the EU Referendum. I am floating in the not-so-blue water between the two sides, waiting for one or both of them to throw me a lifeline in the form of great, evidence-based arguments. Hopefully that will happen over the next few months. (Meanwhile my daughter is fuming that the vote will take place just a couple of weeks before her 18th birthday, thus denying her a say.)

Meanwhile, there are already a lot of bullshit arguments floating about in these same waters, and since I don't yet know my own mind and so am not in a position to try persuading anyone, I thought the most useful thing I could do was to perform some turd triage by listing some of the arguments that won't do a thing to persuade me, either because they're non sequiturs, rely on emotional manipulation (usually attempts to scare people, or to appeal to some nebulous past or future utopia), or because they involve questionable premises. Here are some I've heard so far:

The existence of the EU is what has prevented a third European war in the past 70 years. (I think NATO and the Iron Curtain had rather more to do with it.)

Immigrants are coming en masse to claim benefits. (I've seen no evidence that this is happening on any significant scale. The free movement of people is one of the things most likely to make me vote for the EU, in fact.)

Britain has bad weather, which would be improved by continued EU membership. (I don't know if that's what Emma Thompson was trying to suggest, but it's the best I can do. Climate change may do the job anyway.)

The vote is to decide whether Britain stays part of Europe, and hence of European culture. (The EU and Europe are not the same thing.)

You don't want to vote the same way as [insert name of bogeyperson here], do you? (I have bogeypeople on both sides, though admittedly many more on the Leave side, but this is in any case a weird sort of ad hominem argument at one remove.)

We will definitely get favourable terms for trade with the EU should we leave. (I can see a number of reasons why this might not be the case. It's certainly not something we can be confident of.)

We will definitely get atrocious terms for trade with the EU should we leave. (See above.)

British Indian forces in the Second World War fought and died for "the European project". (Just no.)

This may be a continuing series...
steepholm: (Default)
I really don't know at this point how I'm going to vote in the EU Referendum. I am floating in the not-so-blue water between the two sides, waiting for one or both of them to throw me a lifeline in the form of great, evidence-based arguments. Hopefully that will happen over the next few months. (Meanwhile my dauhter is fuming that the vote will take place just a couple of weeks before her 18th birthday, thus denying her a say.)

Meanwhile, there are already a lot of bullshit arguments floating about in these same waters, and since I don't yet know my own mind and so am not in a position to try persuading anyone, I thought the most useful thing I could do was to perform some turd triage by listing some of the arguments that won't do a thing to persuade me, either because they're non sequiturs, rely on emotional manipulation (usually attempts to scare people, or to appeal to some nebulous past or future utopia), or because they involve questionable premises. Here are some I've heard so far:

The existence of the EU is what has prevented a third European war in the past 70 years. (I think NATO and the Iron Curtain had rather more to do with it.)

Immigrants are coming en masse to claim benefits. (I've seen no evidence that this is happening on any significant scale. The free movement of people is one of the things most likely to make me vote for the EU, in fact.)

Britain has bad weather, which would be improved by continued EU membership. (I don't know if that's what Emma Thompson was trying to suggest, but it's the best I can do. Climate change may do the job anyway.)

The vote is to decide whether Britain stays part of Europe, and hence of European culture. (The EU and Europe are not the same thing.)

You don't want to vote the same way as [insert name of bogeyperson here], do you? (I have bogeypeople on both sides, though admittedly many more on the Leave side, but this is in any case a weird sort of ad hominem argument at one remove.)

We will definitely get favourable terms for trade with the EU should we leave. (I can see a number of reasons why this might not be the case. It's certainly not something we can be confident of.)

We will definitely get atrocious terms for trade with the EU should we leave. (See above.)

British Indian forces in the Second World War fought and died for "the European project". (Just no.)

This may be a continuing series...

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