vlcsnap-2016-05-31-16h26m48s78I must admit the view from this fence is making me rather nauseas. On one side, I have David Cameron, George Osborne, Theresa May, Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson trying to woo me; on the other, I have Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Grayling, Gorgeous George, Nasty Nigel and Boris doing likewise. It feels a bit like joining a dating site and being offered two suitable matches – Ronnie Kray or Reggie Kray. Should I refuse the entreaties of either, the consequences will border on the apocalyptic. Every menace that can befall mankind awaits me – war, terrorism, recession, economic catastrophe, the prospect of England never hosting another World Cup (and that was so odds-on that it doesn’t bear thinking about). And I haven’t even mentioned the numerous journalists and media commentators who usually make me want to pull out my own fingernails lurking on either side. Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right – or, to quote another well-known pop lyric, should I stay or should I go?

The one Armageddon scenario I actually can envisage as a likelihood is that if the UK does vote leave, the SNP will instigate another Independence Referendum; having said that, I think the SNP are looking for any excuse to do so, and will keep doing so until they get the result they want – regardless of the opinions of those Scots who don’t want independence. I should imagine Sturgeon and Salmond are praying the Brexit camp come up trumps; it’s just the situation they’ve been waiting for ever since their grapes turned sour two years ago. But Scotland isn’t the only part of Britain divided; traditional divisions in Northern Ireland are also falling into line with this pattern. Recent surveys suggest Protestants are more likely to vote Remain, whereas Catholics favour Brexit. Anyone believing an official separation from Europe will somehow serve to unite this kingdom anew is clearly too blinded by the desire to give the Mandarins of Brussels a shiner to contemplate the realities of the aftermath.

The current holiday from routine Parliamentary business has seen the Devil make work for many an idle hand during the recess. News bulletins have given air time to toadies singing the PM’s praises and denying the Cabinet split over the EU issue will leave permanent cracks in the united front, as well as others within the Government criticising Cameron with uncomfortable candour and even predicting he will be ‘toast’ if the country votes leave. How anybody can realistically expect Dave to resume working with a group of underlings who have aimed the kind of personal barbs at him that are usually reserved for the Opposition should he still be in a job come June 24 is residing in a land consisting of clouds and cuckoos. Few can carry a grudge like politicians.

I apologise to a degree that this bloody subject has come to dominate the blog of late; but it is such a unique occurrence for a Prime Minister to dispense with collective responsibility within his Cabinet that it makes for good copy. To see Ministers let off the leash, actually saying out loud what they genuinely believe rather than toeing the party line and reading from a script penned by the whips is both a rare insight into the personalities behind the bland, spin-doctored facade and a chance to hear the kind of home truths that are generally the preserve of Westminster mavericks with nothing to lose. I’ve never previously known this happen, not even in the botched ‘Alternative Vote’ cock-up of a few years back; and my seven-year-old self was largely oblivious on the one occasion we’ve been here before.

As has been mentioned more than once, my age at the time of the last occasion in which the Great British Public had their say on the funny foreigners across the Channel negated any interest or real knowledge of what was going on; but had I been asked who the Prime Minister was back then, the name Harold Wilson would have come to me as quickly as any other question I might have been posed. My niece, who is three years older than I was in 1975, was presented with the same poser last week (courtesy of me) and she didn’t know the answer; granted, she didn’t know who the President of the USA was either – which surprised me more, considering Obama’s frivolous celebrity – but is that nature or nurture? Anyway, whatever that says about the society she and we inhabit is immaterial when it comes to doing what Bucks Fizz advised when they themselves made a strident entry into Europe 35 years ago.

For every argument I hear in favour of remaining, an equally valid one is made for leaving. I’ve watched and read as much as someone with a life can over the past couple of months and will no doubt continue to do so right up until the moment I embark upon my trek to the local polling station. I’m not ashamed to admit I’m undecided, for I believe I’m not the only don’t-know out there. Perhaps if one of the camps took a leaf out of the Al Qaeda manual and promised a Paradise with umpteen available virgins as a reward for the right vote, that might swing it. But then the police would be obliged to get involved, and I think they’ve enough ‘historical sex crimes’ to keep their quiet lives busy for the next couple of decades, some even coincidentally stretching back as far as 1975.

© The Editor

10 thoughts on “THE LAST OF MAY

  1. On the basis that Cameron solemnly promised to reduce net immigration to tens of thousands, “no ifs no buts”, when he knew full-well that he had neither the power nor the inclination to deliver on that commitment, then I’m happy to follow his lead and promise whatever you need, plus the obligatory 72 willing virgins, in exchange for a positive Leave vote. (Admittedly, it may be a struggle finding 72 virgins, willing or otherwise, this side of a nunnery).

    The problem with this lengthy campaign is that the genuinely undecideds have no hope of resolving their position by absorption of the output of both camps: not only is there too much of it, it’s all fantasy anyway. They are both trying to promise a future vision, when the real issues of the future are completely unknown to both of them – no-one can predict the global economic or political future, they can only make guesses and, with so many variables in play, they will invariably be wrong. This is not new, as I remember voting in the ’75 version, when exactly the same pattern applied, but in very different economic and social circumstances (Cold War, recent devaluation, industrial strife etc.).

    In the end, this referendum question comes down to whether you think Britain would be better managed independently by its own elected government or by following a set of directions laid down by a group of others, in which Britain would be one voice. That’s the real choice.
    Do you have more confidence in the ability of Britons to appoint competent leaders or would you rather address any risk inherent in that by delegating that tricky stuff to a larger mixed-interest group ?

    That’s as objective as I can get and, as a dedicated Leaver, it’s difficult to be so even-handed when I believe the right answer is so clear. But, unlike much of the Tory party with their erstwhile mates, I will accept your decision and will not think less of you if you choose to disagree. But just think about those 72 virgins…….

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  2. I too wish there were a strong enough case to get me off the fence and firmly into my default Leave camp. But so far there isn’t one, and as you say, for every valid argument one way there is an equally valid counter-argument the other.

    In lieu of 72 virgins I’d settle for a bunch of honest British politicians dedicated to putting the British electorate first, whichever way the referendum goes.

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  3. Stay. Remain. Keep on keeping on. Follow the path least followed (co-operation). Recognise we are (mostly all) English/Scottish/Welsh/Irish AND British AND European. Believe that we have a common destiny with the countries of the mainland of the continent of which we are part (even if that destiny sometimes means we are in opposition to their views – after all, every war needs two sides, minimum). Let’s try to shape that destiny for the common good of all European people.Let’s not engage in competition with each other that leads to a race to the bottom, where the poorest on both sides suffer while the wealthy on both sides profit more. Let’s not ignore we have different cultures, but let us share mutual interests too. Let us, the European people, keep each other’s “elites” (ha ha) in check. It’s time to remember most our ancestors came from France, Germany, Scandinavia. To see ourselves as a race apart is to ignore our history.

    There: a rare plea to stay. I am actually sincere, too.

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    1. It may seem strange but I agree with what you say: we probably only differ on the means of getting there.

      My argument is that all those positive benefits can be achieved without needing to be a member of that stultifying EU monstrosity – in practice, the edifice of the EU is not the solution, it’s the problem. It may achieve harmony in banana-shaping and similar trivia, but it is positively driving disharmony between the peoples of its member-states on a daily basis and that’s not good for anyone.

      The way ahead is not as an amorphous, characterless mass, forced against its will into conformity, but rather as a continent of nations sharing common headline aims of peace, democracy and prosperity, each contributing to those in its own way, within its own culture and at its own pace. What’s not to like ?
      But you will vote with your own vision, I shall vote with mine – I trust that the outcome, whatever it is, works out well for both of us.

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      1. I agree the EU needs to be reformed. It’s structure is unwieldy and the idea of further integration should be halted immediately. However, I see Exit as emphasising the differences between us and, for a lot of people, “we’re different” = “we’re better” (though I’m not accusing you of this). That way means we lose sight of what we share. I believe if we Remain, we can work with everyone to emphasise what we have in common, which is a lot more than that which separates us. Also, we can figure out what we want to achieve together in Europe’s best interests, rather than China’s or America’s, which I fear will end up as the UK’s position if we leave.

        As for your sign off – we can but hope!

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  4. If you’re still open to considering the position for Remain, you might want to take a look at the arguments put forward by Scientists for EU (who are independent of the official Remain campaign):

    Click to access SfEU_factsheet_12-2-2016.pdf

    – Who they are:
    – Funded by the EU? No:
    – Facebook page, with lots of discussion around Remain/Leave, not all science-related:
    – YouTube channel:

    I see that the proprietor of your former watering hole has decided to jump into the Brexit boat, in apparent sympathy with the Austrian far right. The former is one thing. The latter is another, and she has lost this reader.

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