Decisions, Decisions

I do not usually like being even remotely controversial – I’m a conflict avoider by nature after all. But even I cannot avoid making some comment on Thursday’s Referendum. It is too important – so here goes my pub conversation opinion (and that’s all it is…)

I do not like referendums. By nature they boil things down to what seems a simple question, when things are never that easy. It then asks people to make a decision that the majority are not really equipped to make because of the level of complexity and the need for specialist knowledge that most of us simply do not have (nor should we normally need it).

I am in a rare position in that most of my work revolves around EU regulation and how that happens but most people are not so well informed. But if you ask me about economics and I’ll probably look blankly back at you and defer to people I know who work in that area (and I do not mean politicians, I mean the people who actually work in that area, as usually the experts are in Industry in my experience).

But a Referendum is what we have and we will all have to live with what the people decide (whatever that is) and the implications, whether this be continued engagement with the rest of the EU and the compromises that will inevitably bring on UK policy (as it would in any trade agreement of course), or the uncertainties that a Leave vote will bring. I subscribe to the view that neither course is clear and anyone who says that it is probably selling something.

I normally fiercely protect my political views – it is a secret ballot for a reason – but for me I do not see this as a political vote (difficult to be when the major parties at least formally all back one side). And anyone who has actually discussed this with me knows I will be voting to Remain.

I believe that way people will vote will be based on a mixture of general attitude, whatever access they have to (the limited and insufficient) data and an unhealthy(?) dose of ‘what is best for me.’

Certainly I cannot say I am not impacted with that. As someone whose job is technical regulatory convergence (a slow and painful process at the best of times) to support something that at least sets up the environment for divergence post exit would be hypocritical in the extreme. A UK exit will impact me negatively both in terms of finance, and while I do not think would threaten my job it would certainly complicate it and make it more difficult. There are some things I am prepared to fall on my sword for, but not the political ambitions of certain players, scaremongering on immigration (for goodness sake, this country would not run if people did not come here and some of the most positive places in the world I have been built on positive acceptance of immigration) or some misplaced sense of ‘regained sovereignty’.

More importantly – I’ve spent the last twenty four years working with people from all over Europe, in industry but also with groups such as the Commission and other EU ‘institutions’. And with very few exceptions that period has been a rewarding and enriching experience and the friendship and togetherness I have felt with many of those people is extremely important to me. The world’s problems cannot and will not be solved by separatism – I challenge anyone to tell me how that is going to work. So fundamentally I cannot do anything but personally reject the philosophy of a Leave vote.

Everyone must vote based on their own reasoning (although for goodness sake please do vote one way or the other, it is too damn important not to).

But, for the record, I’m IN.


[On some aspects I am less familiar with – which incidentally came to me via the weirdest source – a shared post from aging Leftie Folk rockers Oysterband on facebook – a talk from someone more informed than I if you have a spare 25 minutes]