A friend wrote this on Facebook to all the people that maybe confused about Europe
I wanted to say a few words about the vote on the 23rd, and to say rather more words about why I would urge everyone to vote Remain. I may go on a bit, but bear with…
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I was born in 1961. Sixteen years after the war and seven years after the end of rationing. Sixties Britain was quite drab if you lived more than a mile from Carnaby Street. Food was quite awful, cars were awful, clothes were frightful, politics were still dominated by men who had fought in the war and were a bit stunned that the Empire had drifted away and there were still quite a lot of hats. Summer holidays were particularly grim and, generally, taken in the UK.
At school, the only game in the playground was ‘war’.
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The Seventies arrived along with colour TV, strikes, the three day week, more dreadful food (especially ‘out’) and the beginning of Package Holidays which was when British people were flown to Spain to complain about the food, get sunstroke, complain about foreigners and fly home.
The telly was frightful too… revolving themes of racism and sexism as hilarious subjects, Love thy Neighbour, Mind Your Language, Miss World… there was a yawning divide between the sexes in the workplace… HR was known as Personnel and they weren’t there to protect you.
When you went abroad, there were restrictions as to how much money you could take with you, and the contents of your wallet was recorded in the back of your passport. This was checked when you got back too. You could bring back 200 fags and 13 bottles of wine.
In 1974, there was a Referendum about the Common Market (as it was then) and the result was a resounding ‘In’ from 66% of the population (the rest of Europe was somewhat aghast at this, as the UK had been branded the Sick Man of Europe based on the appalling state of Industry and Industrial Relations) however, we were in and, slowly, things began to change. The UK began to change (though War was still the only game in the playground).
The Single Market opened up and the UK blossomed. By the end of the Eighties the nightmare of the previous decade was all but forgotten. Travel abroad became the norm, students travelled and worked all across Europe. When the Iron Curtain was swept away, membership of the EU was the thing countries craved and the EU grew and grew and, and here’s the key point, the UK was at the heart of it… and still is. And will remain so if we keep our heads.
Now, a word about immigration.
In my lifetime there have been a steady stream of migrants into the UK: refugees from communist satellites of the USSR, Ugandan Asians driven out by Idi Amin, Vietnamese Boat People… all came here for a new life in safety. Most people my age will recall the wonder of corner shops run by Indians that STAYED OPEN so you could buy stuff in the evening! And on Sundays! Mental! And they changed the face of retailing. Every wave of migrants has brought their own special seasoning to the huge melting pot that is the UK and yet, now, we hear how immigrants are not wanted, despised, blamed for all ills. How has this happened? When did we stop being a kind, considerate, welcoming country and become bigoted and angry and racist in a way that my children find bewildering?
Have you been to hospital recently? I have. I was (wonderfully) treated by a Jamaican, a Slovakian, a Sudanese, an Irish lady and a Spanish doctor (whose pronunciation of ‘analgesics’ will live on in my memory). Which of these should be refused a chance to work in the UK? Which are not contributing? Who would you ‘send home’?
The EU isn’t perfect. Well, news just in, nothing is. But it is a brilliant idea that is still a work in progress. You and your children can work and travel freely in the EU, your rights are protected, your air is clean, your beaches are clean, your toys won’t kill you, you live in a Europe that, for the last seventy odd years has seen NO WAR between member states! Imagine that! There were less than twenty years between WW1 and WW2 but since 1945, not a thing between member states. Little short of a miracle.
If we leave, we turn our backs on all that Europe has done for us and will continue to do for its members. We will be exiles and, politically, there will be a shocking move to the right which will be unstoppable.
We are not a bad country… that’s why so many people want to come here. Let’s not wander into the wilderness with Boris and Ian and Michael , let us, instead, turn our faces to Europe, do what we can to help it grow and prosper and try and make sure that for our children and grandchildren, there are better games to play than War.
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