In, out, shake it all about

By Alison Rowland

I am delighted to welcome guest blogger Alison Rowland to the Radical I-Pamphlet with a post containing her thoughts on the EU Referendum debate. Alison is a jewellery maker, advocate for social justice and an enthusiast for Labrador dogs and Ancient History. She can be found on twitter as @Rowland35Alison and on Facebook at BlueForestJewellery1


A referendum sounds like such a lovely fair and democratic thing, doesn’t it? Like something the British might have proudly created during that brave experimental time when we had de-capitated one King, and not yet replaced him with another equally as bad.  Sadly, history is an object lesson in not learning from our mistakes. Granted, we have evolved to a situation in which our monarch has relatively little political influence, despite retaining obscene levels of wealth and privilege. But we still regularly vote into power people whose background allows them to control and influence the media and effectively buy their power, and then let them use that power to pervert the notion of democracy.  And we are about to launch into a ‘debate’ which is already being defined around the notion of ‘sovereignty’ without any real hope that what that actually means will ever really be allowed to surface.

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With all this jockeying about for power, its like they’re playing at kings

We have only managed two major referendums, the original EU one in 1975, and the Alternative Vote one in 2011. The first allegedly an exercise in gauging support for the EU which would never be legally or constitutionally binding; the second a bad tempered spat between the then coalition partners over an alternative many didn’t understand, with a disproportionate amount of debate focussing on whether voting Yes would lead to yet more dreadful coalition governments.

As a traditional Leftie, I’m divided over the EU. A large club of wealthy nations created to sustain and privilege its own members must be in principle be a bad thing, right?  And yet, that club has allowed relative peace within its own membership, supported the fall of Communism and helped to sustain and promote new member countries as they struggle for economic independence. At the same time, rabid Neo-liberalism and  the disproportionate influence of economists and bankers have led to widespread corruption and fiscal incontinence.  The treatment of Greece was and remains an utter disgrace and a major affront to democratic principles. Yet in the UK, the EU remains one of our sole defences against attacks on the welfare state, workers rights and the very notion of social justice.

Both of our potential kings really want out of this club so that they can have free rein to continue the austerity myth, privatise the welfare state and NHS, demonise the poor, sick and anyone not born in the UK, and sustain and build their own and their corporate friends’ power bases. It’s a poor choice, but there’s the promise of watching the Tories tear themselves apart, and at least Cameron is clearly discomforted by the compromises he has been already forced to make.  I’ll vote to stay in because of that, because someone needs to protest against absolute power, and as before in history, we need Europe’s help to do that.

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