Forty-one years ago my partner cast his first vote. As with many people his age, it was in the UK’s first referendum about the Common Market. The forerunner of the EU for anyone not so old or well up on European politics.
Last year, the new UK government (Tory) announced a referendum about remaining in the EU would take place by 2017. The date is set for June 23 this year (2016).
The usual history lesson (simple version)
Origins of the Common Market came from the aftermath of the Second World War. It was a complex economic environment as Europe started the struggle to rebuild itself after the war. While America was shovelling in billions of dollars under the Marshall Plan (48–51), France, Italy and Belgium were already starting their economic recovery, and in 1951 the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was formed between France and West Germany.
To supervise the ECSC, several supranational bodies were established, including an executive authority, a council of ministers, an advisory assembly, and a court of justice to settle disputes. Italy and the three nations of the Benelux Economic Union–Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg–soon joined. The groundwork for the EEC was laid.
And the European Economic Community (EEC), popularly referred to as the Common Market came into being created by the Treaty of Rome in 1957.
By 1961 it was time for expansion. Britain had been disappointed with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) which was underperforming compared with the EEC. She applied, along with Ireland, Denmark, and Norway, to join.
Then Austria, Cyprus, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland wanted to join too. No matter. De Gaulle was having none of it. Or none of them.
Despite formal requests for entry in 1967 from the four, there was still no progress due to De Gaulle helpfully vetoing the UK’s application. And it would be another six years before three of those four countries joined, 12 from initial application. Norway pulled out after a No vote in a referendum.
Britain, Ireland and Denmark became fully paid-up members in January 1973.
But in 1975, June again (5th), the UK held a referendum to decide whether or not to stay in. A two-to-one vote in favour kept Britain in. Personally, I think the same will happen again.
Interestingly, Greenland (part of Denmark), left in 1986, after a plebiscite.
There is rather a lot of propaganda around about this current referendum.
Firstly, and most importantly, that everyone will be worse off. Because we all think about our own pocket.
Second. The NHS will be worse off. Um. As someone who spent 15 years in the NHS I don’t agree with that at all.
Third. Related: health care on holiday. The UK has standard agreements all over the world for reciprocal health care for A&E. Well, apart from America where everyone is advised to take out vast insurance to cope with greedy insurance companies. Leaving the EU would make little difference because Europe doesn’t run on those lines.
Fourth. Everything will be dearer. Houses, electricity, food, gas, you name it. Why? Tariffs?
Fifth. America says we shouldn’t leave. They won’t want to negotiate with us. So what happened pre 1973? And, do we care?
Sixth. Europe won’t negotiate with us. Bollocks. The UK imports a shedload from Europe. Are 27 other countries, soon to be 32, going to refuse to trade?
Seventh. Britain joined the Common Market when there were six counties. Now there are 28. Soon to be 33. It’s not quite the same. Most of those countries, as ever, are not contributors.
Eighth. What added value has the EU brought to Britain? Apart from a few grants in the Highlands and Islands? Why is no one telling us what we have gained?
Ninth. Onto workers’ rights now. Do you really understand the working time directive? It. Is. Meaningless. It sets a maximum hour week that can be voluntarily exempted by a worker who wishes to work more hours.
READ: IF YOU DON’T WORK EXTRA HOURS YOU WILL BE SACKED.
Tenth. Each wave of new EU entrants undercuts the going rate for jobs. If you come from a country with no work and crap wages, you will work for 24 hours a day for peanuts. Absolute peanuts. So all the Rumanians, Bulgarians, Polish, Czechs, Estonians, Latvians, are going to get a jolt in the arse when the Turks and Syrians come in.
But still, that will all be good for the greedy Brit. Working in his or her office in a safe job, propounding middle-class views and getting the cheapest job on the black in their home.
Meanwhile, Gib gets to vote. Ah. Why would that be? Because given the frontier relationship with Spain, Gib will vote in favour. And Brits who have been gone from the UK for up to 15 years can vote too. Ah. Happy Brits ensconced in the Languedoc, Provence, Costa del Viento/Sol. Don’t want their boat rocked.
Manipulation? No. Giving people their rights. Oddly. For the first time in a while. Just don’t bother questioning this decision. Support what the government says.
So. Norway, and Switzerland, both of whom applied to join, have shit economies and don’t trade with the EU? Liechtenstein? Iceland? No. There is life outside the EU.
Believe in WMD. It will all be right in the end. Trust us.
This is capitalism par excellence.
Vote for the EU. Vote for a cheap labour pool. Because that way, there will never, ever be any workers’ rights or trade unions again. Each cheap country that joins brings ever more labour to a struggling workforce. I discussed this with cycling pal Al (well, he cycles, I don’t right now) and he thought Europe would look after workers’ rights. No. Al. Just. No. Unless you are a director on the board of a bailed-out bank. They seem to do all right.
Because my partner has to work for less money now than he was working for forty years ago. Clear? Sure. EU protects workers rights. It’s great. Er. No. Not. At. All. And that’s not pro rata either. It’s the same rate now and as it was in 1976. How many of you are on 1976 wages?
This is what the EU vote is about. Destroying the working classes. Yet again.
When I was a kid there were 55 million people in the UK. Now there are nearly 70 million. That’s registered. Legal. Supposedly. How on earth are 15 million people creating extra wealth? They aren’t. What part of this do people not understand?
British Prime Minister Edward Heath was pro Europe:
Other sources: Whitaker’s