Monday 27 June 2016

Old And Bold

Among the several fall outs from the EU Referendum has been the contrast reported in the vote for the youngest groups being most to Remain and In, whereas the older voters, "The Greys", were most for Leave and Out.  It was compounded by relatively fewer of the young actually casting a vote.

It is argued that this is unfair in that the young are the future and the old will soon be in the spirit world paying for their many sins. What is a point, not lost to some, is that many of The Greys had voted on 5 June 1975 in the first Referendum which delivered a substantial majority to the In vote.

I have not seen the age breakdown for this, but suspect that in 1975 the younger voters were for In and in large numbers.  It means that The Greys in 2016 who want Out are in many cases the ones who voted for In back in 1975.  If so, this is a major shift of opinion among those who have a long life experience of the EU, the way it is run and the consequences.  On Saturday 18 June in the post "Europe And All That" my tale is told.

I was not a young voter in 1975, already with a growing family, most of the way through the mortgage and the first hint of grey in the thatch.  At that time the membership of the EEC was ten with an agreement with Norway whose government had applied to join but a Referendum in 1972 was against it, 53.5% to 46.5%.

Four of the ten, Germany, France, Italy and the UK were the larger states.  At the time there was still customs etc. on entry and leaving.  The one between France and Italy, both members in the south was especially bad, see "The Day Of The Jackal".  The one between France and Spain, then outside, at Irun was a shocker.

You will imagine with family in the car, a large camping trailer and a long way to drive the idea of a customs union and open entry around the EEC seemed a very good one especially given the comparative pricing of wines, spirits and other commodities in the different countries.

Then we had governments who still had effective control internally and in Europe there were capable statesmen who kept a watching brief on Brussels and would not be inclined to meekly do what the officials told them to do.  Moreover, the Foreign departments were largely staffed by experienced professionals and pandered less to the media.

In 1975 the EEC appeared to be an economic alliance, which had a secretariat to liaise and work with the national civil services, much as NATO and other bodies did in defence and United Nations matters.  Its affairs seemed routine if the democracies of Europe did manage between themselves to do the job and agreed sufficiently on key issues.

The date of 5 June for a vote had significance in a time only thirty one years since the Normandy landings.  Between then and 1975 there had been continuing European and international dialogue aiming at mutual understanding for the most part.  So to have a trading alliance fitted in with the pattern of the times.

Today we have a different breed of politician, largely jobsworths for hire who have done little and know less served in their own states by officials who are one of a politicised group advised by corporate placement and lobbyists.  In 2016 these groupings find it easier, quicker and a lot cheaper to go to Brussels to seek and give favours, now the common currency of government.

More to the point we did not have then the types of mega finance and globalised huge corporations who are now the effective controllers of our politics, economies and working lives.  There were big finance and important money men, but not in the same way.  The scale of modern corruption and fixing had yet to come.

The EU now is a vast and complex political entity which is said to be federal but is not.  A federal state has representation and laws that enable some kind of political balance.  As it functions the EU is a dominant elite unchecked, uncontrolled and secretive.  This is very different from the EEC we voted for in 1975.

Then we were free voters, but on 23rd June we voted to be rid of the  serfdom that has been imposed by people we do not know who are controlled by those who do not want to know us.

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