Making Sense with Richard Smith Episode 6 – The EU Referendum

You wouldn’t believe how hard this has been. The referendum is utterly screwed up, and I’ve been trying to make sense of it. After all, that’s what I claim to do around here. It’s been so hard because most of what’s out there are just wrong. It’s just the stuff of fantasy and I’ve been trying to debunk it all. If I carry on like that, I’m not going to be finished in time for the referendum.

Both sides of this debate have made such a mess of things that we have to start from scratch. Forget everything you think you know, and forget everything a politician has said. Here we go.

We’re deciding whether or not to leave the EU. Being that we’re already in the EU, we need to look if there’s an actual reason to leave it. Is there something about the EU that hurts us? Is there something that EU membership is preventing us from having? Let’s look at how the EU works and see if anything stands out.

Take the recent Tobacco Products Directive as our case study. All the elected governments of the countries of Europe got together and decided that there should be some EU-wide laws covering tobacco products. They went to the European Commission and asked it to make up some laws. They did that, and then presented those laws to our elected MEPs. Those MEPs voted on those laws and passed them. The those laws were sent out to all the countries who wrote them into their own laws, along with a few tweaks. In our case study, the UK applied the least number of tweaks, leaving the TPD as it was when it arrived in the mail. However other countries like Finland decided to take it further and do things like banning eliquid flavours.

That’s it. That’s the EU and its laws. Some would tell you that there’s something undemocratic, or anti-democratic, or whatever bollocks they’re peddling. It isn’t any of those things. Everything happens thanks to elected officials.

But what about the European Commission? How did they get their job? Well they were elected too. Not by you and me, but by the MEPs we elected to work on our behalf. The MEPs start by electing a president, who then selects a representative put forward from each country, and then the MEPs vote on the group as a whole. So the Commission that we’re told are unelected, are actually elected twice, by people we elected. And they only do what our elected governments tell them to do. They don’t sit around all day thinking up new laws just for shits and giggles, they do what they’re asked to do. (en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Commission)

When you think about it, how else could the EU possibly work? Just imagine the logistical nightmare of running an EU-wide election. It’s much easier if each country elects a few people to represent us. I really encourage you to take a look at Wikipedia and learn about the different parts of the EU. Don’t you think that’s something you should know about before you vote in this referendum?

I’ve already mentioned that I have a problem with the TPD. Shouldn’t I be all for Brexit? Wouldn’t it solve my problem with the EU if we were to leave it? In a word, no.

The TPD has already happened. There was a chance to stop it here, but that was scuppered by Labour. Take note of that. The law I don’t like was allowed to happen by the party I support. It wasn’t forced on me by Europe. It is now a British law. If we vote for Brexit, it will still be a British law. It will be a British law in the years it takes us to negotiate leaving Europe. After that happens, our government is going to be overrun with rewriting all the laws we currently get from Europe and actually really need. Like all the ones about working hours, health and safety, paternity leave, and so on. Nobody is going to be worrying about how you can only buy eliquid in 10ml bottles, because at that point, literally every other point of law will be more important and require more attention. Given that the TPD is due to be renewed in 2021, we might actually end up taking longer to change it if we leave the EU than if we don’t. And then when the TPD is reviewed we’d be much better off if we were part of that, rather than stuck on the outside. (www.clivebates.com/?p=3748)

I hope you can see the parallels between our case study and whatever issue you might have with Europe. It’s extremely unlikely that your problem will be solved by voting to leave. It’s much better to be part of the EU and have a say in what happens. That way we can take the lead and control things, instead of being locked out, shouting in through the windows like a pack of Crystal Maze contestants.

Don’t think that there’s nothing that can be done about laws from Europe. I can’t stress enough how the EU does what our country’s leaders tell it to do. Look at the TTIP issue.

The Transatlantic, Trade, err something beginning with I, something beginning with P, is a truly horrible piece of trade agreement. Obviously it’s a massive document but all you need to know is that it gives American companies the right to sue the governments of European countries if they do anything that impacts the profits of those American companies trading in the EU. So if there’s an American chemical company operating here, and their workers suffer health problems at work, and we impose a law that protects those workers, the company has the right to sue us for the profits they’ll lose from having to protect their workers. How much does that stink? Why on earth would anybody sign us up for that? Who did sign us up for that? Who is it that keeps banging on about it being a great idea? David Cameron. Not the EU, but David Cameron. (tvnewsroom.consilium.europa.eu/event/transatlantic-trade-and-investment-partnership/eu-us-press-conference-cameron-uk)

That was David Cameron speaking in 2014 at the launch of talks. Does that sound like a man doing something he doesn’t want to be doing? Is that the speech of a man who governs a country that is forced into doing things by the EU?

Nobody but the Tories want this to go ahead because it’s so obviously a shit idea. So protests started. You can be forgiven for not knowing about any protests taking place because they only get BBC news coverage if they turn violent.

The protests have worked and the TTIP is pretty much dead in the water. (www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/05/protest-never-changes-anything-derailing-ttip-trade-agreement)

And do you know what the best thing was about all the protesting that happened? Most of it happened in France. Your French brothers and sisters in Europe stood up to you because you were part of their community.

Of course, this isn’t strictly relevant in this particular show but I thought I’d just throw it in there. If you don’t want things like the TTIP to happen, you need to have a government that doesn’t want them to happen. Like this…

What Are Your Problems?

While we’re talking about problems can you actually tell me what your problems are? Can you honestly say they’re real problems that are the fault of the EU?

There’s a lot of talk about money. How much we send to the EU, how much we get back, and so on. The popular idea is that we could take all the money we currently give to the EU and give it to the NHS. There are several problems with that theory. For starters, most of the money we give, we get back. It arrives in the form of grants and subsidies. If we stopped paying into the EU, we’d have to replace all the money that we get as grants and subsidies. Already the money is accounted for. It isn’t going to the NHS. It’s going to replace grants, and employing all the extra civil servants to deal with it. Maybe we’ll save a tiny bit, but it’s a few million, not hundreds of millions.

As David Cameron keeps repeating, we have the fifth largest economy in the world. We can afford everything we need. The reason why our health service doesn’t have enough money is because our government isn’t giving it enough money. After years of austerity and cutbacks on the news, we’ve somehow forgotten where our money has gone. We’ve had tax cuts for the super rich, and benefit cuts for those who need it. That hasn’t happened because of the EU, and it won’t be fixed by leaving the EU.

If anything life will get much much worse for the working class outside of the EU.

The Tories have been banging on about replacing the European Convention on Human Rights with a British Bill of Human Rights. Why do you think they want to do that? Is it because they think the European one isn’t nice enough? No, it’s because it’s far too nice. It gives you all kinds of things that the Tories wouldn’t really like you to have (www.conservatives.com/~/media/files/downloadable%20files/human_rights.pdf).

We talk about it but do you actually know what human rights you have? Do you really understand why it would be bad to lose this protection from the EU? Sit back, relax, and let me take you through the important parts and precisely what our current government doesn’t like about it (en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Convention_on_Human_Rights)

Article 3 – torture
You have the right to not be tortured. Believe it or not this is actually a controversial one, because it was used to prevent the handing out of life sentences to murderers. When our courts sentence you to life, it actually means a really long time, not your whole life.

Article 4 – servitude
You can’t be a slave anywhere other than your own bedroom. That’s a good thing right? Tories don’t like this one. Expect this protection   to go away if we leave the EU. Why don’t they like it? It means they can’t force you to work for free to keep your unemployment benefits. Government run slavery will come to the UK without the EU.

Article 5 – liberty and security
You have the right to be arrested when you’ve committed a crime. It doesn’t sound like much, but isn’t it good that you can’t be arrested when you haven’t committed a crime? Tories hate this one too because it also gives you the right to be informed of your arrest, why you’ve been arrested, and what charges you face. When I come back to cover our new Investigatory Powers Bill you’ll see how these human rights get in the way of how our government want to treat us.

Article 6 – fair trial
Oh fair trials and how they get in the way when you just want to accuse a person of something then deport them.

Article 8 – privacy
Boom! This is the big one! Oh how the government hate your privacy. We’re back to the Investigatory Powers Bill. Article 8 says that nobody can read your correspondence, and that really bugs a government that has just passed a new law that says they can keep your internet history, read your email, and get Apple to give up your iMessage history, all without telling you. This article is the only thing keeping you safe from laws that our government passed only last week.

Article 9 – conscience and religion
The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. No no no! What about all those people with thoughts that we don’t like? I can almost hear the Tories throwing up at the thought of anybody being able to think what they like.

Article 11 – association
The right to assemble, and to have trade unions. Have you seen how many protests have swamped London over the last few months? The government would like that to come to an end. Oh, and those pesky unions force companies to treat their employees with respect. Tories hate treating employees with respect.

Article 14 – discrimination
We can’t discriminate. Why would anybody want to take this away? Of course, you might be an employer that isn’t keen on having muslims, homosexuals, or people of colour in your office. At the moment, you can’t discriminate based on those things. At the moment.

Article 16 – Aliens
If you aren’t from Britain then you’re foreign, right? Wrong. This right says that nobody from the EU can be considered foreign. That right will go away because of all the lies told to you about immigration. I imagine some morons would be pleased if this right went away.

Of course, the original bill is far wordier than I’ve put it, but you get a general idea. The European Convention on Human Rights is something we would lose immediately and miss the most. You have these rights today and you can’t trust the Tories to give them back to you. Never trust a Tory. Never.

Never Trust A Tory

While we’re on the subject of not trusting Tories, there’s a problem that I’ve noticed with some of you and it really worries me. I can’t help but feel like most of us have been born without the ability to detect possible danger. The gut instinct that tells us when something wishes to do us harm and can’t be trusted. It’s a big problem.

When I look at Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, Nicola Sturgeon and others, there is an instinctual warning siren that goes off. I don’t always know why it goes off, but I’m very aware when it does, and it goes off with everybody on the Leave side of the argument.

It doesn’t matter what Farage or BoJo say because they aren’t to be trusted. Never, for any reason. If Farage told me that I shouldn’t set my head on fire, I’d be out looking for petrol and matches immediately. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Everything they say is motivated by a hidden agenda that they don’t want you to know about. BoJo wants to be Prime Minister. He’s working on the assumption that if we leave the EU then Cameron will be forced to resign leaving Boris in Number 10. He doesn’t really want us to leave the EU. That’s why there’s loads of videos of him explaining how amazing and essential the EU is. He’s lying when he talks about it now. He doesn’t care if we leave or stay, he cares if he becomes Prime Minister.

I know you want me to say that I don’t trust the In side either. Mostly I don’t. Certainly not David Cameron and George Osborne. In fact, I think the best thing Cameron can do to help the In side is to shut his mouth as soon as possible.

That said, there are a lot of people on the In side that I do trust. People who have nothing but the greater good in mind. They include people like the NHS, all business leaders, the scientists, The Economist, and many many others. I do understand that there have been lots of lies flying around but not everything is a lie, and most people have the nation’s best interest at heart.

What are those lies?

So these lies. What are they exactly? That’s easy to figure out because the Leave campaign stuck them through my front door. To truly understand them you have to accept one simple fact. Everything wrong with this country is the fault of our government. If you can accept that then you’re on the right path. I know some of you will think that I’ve gone crazy when I make that claim because you’ve seen the news and it tells you that all your problems are caused by other things. Some people are telling you that those things are only happening to you because of the EU. That is wrong or a lie. Problems are caused by our government. Please try to remember this, it has been on the TV for ages now. They keep cutting money given to public services. It’s that simple.

The whole thing was summed up perfectly by one woman during a debate hosted by Buzzfeed.

The leave side are claiming that over a quarter of a million immigrants come to this country every year. Apparently that’s a bad thing. I’m struggling to see how. After all they do the jobs that most of us consider ourselves too good to do. They also do lots of skilled jobs. Having spent a lot of time in various NHS care programs I can tell you that I’ve rarely been treated by an English person. As the saying goes, you’re far more likely to be treated by a european than you are to be in a bed next to one. Immigration is good. We need these people to come over here.

A cleverer man than me recently said

“We celebrate our diversity. We know that it makes us stronger and moves everyone forward.” – Tim Cook

The immigrants that come to this country are awesome and I thank them for their contributions.

Obviously, they aren’t all great. I’m very sure that you can find me an individual immigrant who’s an arsehole. That’s true of any group of people regardless of how you define them. The fact that some immigrants might take advantage of our support systems is a small price to pay for the good that happens over all.

Oh and by the way, the reason why our benefits systems are at breaking point is because of the Tories and austerity. Not because people are using the system. Today David Cameron was told that he can withhold benefits from immigrants. It’s a major concession from the EU and one that should give reassurance to the people on the Leave side.(www.thecanary.co/2016/06/14/brexit-looked-like-bag-eu-court-made-shock-decision/)

Continuing with the fear of outsiders we’re being told that Turkey might join the EU and that would be the end of the world. The theory is that because Turkey is next to Syria then terrorists will come. And because Turkey will be in the EU those terrorists will be able to get in a car and drive straight to London without being challenged. WRONG! Which bit? All of it.

First of all Turkey aren’t joining the EU in my lifetime.(www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/08/erdogans-draconian-new-law-demolish-turkeys-eu-ambitions). They’ve just come up with a law that basically allows the government to remove any and all opposition. It’s like David Cameron passing a law that lets him arrest any Labour politicians or supporters. This means that Turkey is a long way from meeting the basic requirements for being considered for membership. There are a set of rules that all EU countries must follow regarding a free and open system of government. You don’t have that if the leader of a country can arrest anyone he likes, including his opposition. For that reason alone you should ignore anything you hear related to Turkey. But it doesn’t stop there.

This whole idea that we don’t control our borders is just an out right lie. Have you ever left the country and come back? Then you went through passport control didn’t you. You had to show your passport to a man who’s job it is to decide if you get to come into the country or not. That’s border control. What else do you think it is? On top of that, we aren’t part of the system that allows free movement of travel throughout the EU. You cannot drive to London unchallenged from outside of the UK.

But what about the money?

I know that by now you leavers in the audience are shouting about the money. Don’t worry I was just getting to it. It’s on the Leave leaflet.

£350 million goes to the EU every week! Really are we still on this one?

If you look at the treasury report on our EU budget for 2015, and there’s a link on my website (www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/483344/EU_finances_2015_final_web_09122015.pdf) you can see that we spent £9.8 billion on the EU in 2015. Then if you go to the CBI and look at their report into how much money we got from the EU in 2014, you’ll see that we received somewhere between £73 billion and £91 billion. There’s a link on my website, feel free to check this out (news.cbi.org.uk/business-issues/uk-and-the-european-union/eu-business-facts/cbi-literature-review-of-the-impact-of-eu-membership-on-the-uk-economy-pdf/) I know that didn’t go into your pocket personally, but it did come back to our farmers, and people in many other industries, as well as benefits, and funding for projects in any area you can think of.

I just want to make it a little clearer so here’s something from infacts.org

All that money coming from the EU. How are we going to replace that? It’s not like we leave the EU and magically get £350 million per week. We need to spend that replacing the money that we get from the EU. If anything we’re going to be far worse off.

Brexit The Movie

The more greasy members of the Leave camp have put together a little film they like to call Brexit: The Movie. It’s a very well put together production, and it sounds ever so serious and professional.

You could go and watch it, but you aren’t to go in unarmed. Much like the German government have only allowed the republishing on Mein Kampf if it comes with notes explaining what’s wrong with it, let’s listen to Dr Mike Galsworthy talk about it. He’s part of the Scientists for EU campaign and the kind of guy who has dictionaries of many different languages on his shelf at home. Unless you have multiple dictionaries at home, you can assume that he’s cleverer than most of us and should be listened to.

To Sum Up

  • All Tories are full of shit and shouldn’t be listened to. Pay more attention to people who either don’t care about you or wish to do you harm.
  • Nigel Farage is full of more shit than your average Tory and every word he says should be ignored.
  • The EU is democratic. The EU Commission makes laws only after being asked to by our government, who we elect. Those laws are then voted on by MEPs who we elect.
  • The UK isn’t very democratic. The House of Lords have power over our laws and they aren’t elected. Ultimately all of our laws are passed by a little old lady in Buckingham Palace and she’s one of the least elected people on the face of the earth.
  • The European Bill of Human Rights protects you from many injustices and will be taken away as soon as possible.
  • Immigration isn’t bad. It’s actually good. It makes us better as a nation.
  • The NHS and education systems are on their arses because of the government, not the EU, and not immigrants. That is a lie you have been told so that you don’t blame the people who are actually responsible.
  • None of us will live long enough to see Turkey join the EU, and we aren’t part of any border agreement that will allow people from Turkey to come here unchallenged r .
  • The £350 million per week to the EU figure is misleading to the point of being a lie. Leaving the EU will not result in the building of an NHS hospital every week. Also, consider who would actually work in those hospitals were we to build them, seeing as Brexiters want to stop immigrants coming here.

I feel like so far all I’ve been able to do is offer your explanations as to why the EU isn’t as bad as you’ve been lead to believe, and pointing out all the lies we’ve been told. Aren’t there some good reasons for staying in the EU? What has it ever done for us?

For starters, I encourage you to take a tour of infacts.org. It’s an independent journalistic group that are putting actual facts together. They’re also doing a very good job of pointing out all the bollocks spouting from the official In campaign.

This entire show serves as my testimony as to why we should stay in the EU.

We are better, stronger, more clever, more protected, safer, friendlier, and part of a huge European family if we stay in the EU. Have you ever been to any other European countries? They’re awesome! Spain is fantastic, you should visit Barcelona. I’m a big fan of Amsterdam too, purely for the museums and art galleries of course. Britain is part of a wider community and it welcomes us with open arms. Europeans are always happy to see Brits, especially when we aren’t completely shit faced drunk. Even when we are shit faced drunks there are the Irish and Germans who are known for liking a beer or two.

This is your choice to make, and I’ve done my best to arm you with actual facts that I’ve backed up with credible sources. The fact that we’re having this referendum at all is a joke. The EU is not and never has been an issue for anyone except the ultra right wing xenophobes, and is now being used as a distraction tactic for a greedy and failing government.

Thank you for listening and paying close attention. I’ll leave you with the words of another man who cares deeply for our united country and its people.