Sunday, 13 March 2016

Brexit?

This is a big topic and one we all get to decide on soon.

For a start I am not publishing a personal stance on this. I do not feel qualified to do so, sorry. It does not mean I don't have one, but I don't have the evidence to advise anyone, and I am not sure anyone does.

Being in the EU carries a lot of shit. I mean both obligations and benefits. Some are very "big picture" things, like right to free trade and free movement of labour. Notably UK has one of the highest emigration rates to the rest of Europe of any country, apparently. And why not - we can. Even my son worked in Sweden for a year, because he could.

Being in EU carries problems, both big things and a shit load of small niggles, like the fucking cookie law on web sites which did not actually stop any tracking at all but made everyone have to click through annoying as hell "you agree to cookies" boxes on all sorts of web sites. It is one of the worse example of knee-jerk and bad legislation ever. There are many other small annoyances, and many other good points too.

Anyway, the problem is that there is no one single definitive test. There is no one metric one can look at and decide this is better than that. Obviously there are some big economic metrics one could look at, but even then it is basically impossible to predict what is better in or out on those. If we leave we will make some new political and trade relationships with many countries and even with "Europe" itself. These will have good and bad points.

But at the end of the day we cannot now say what will be better or worse, and even in ten years time when the dust has settled, either way, we cannot say if it is better or worse. It will always be a guess at what could have been or could be with no certainty and then a toss up of each metric impacts the "total" for good or bad. All we can say for sure is that leaving is "change".

Either way, some individuals, and companies, may be better or worse off. In some cases, some things can be predicted each way with some certainly, but mostly not. Even so, what is best for the country is not always best for me, or you.

The only thing you can say with any certainty is that leaving means change. Probably a decade of change.

Is change good?

This is, perhaps, the one question we can ask ourselves when deciding which way to vote. Do we want change or not?

We know that, sometimes, in hindsight, change can be good. There have been many changes to look back on. Wars can be very good examples of change, but would people have voted for war? But we also know that change can be bad.

Some people and some companies manage change way better than others, and that is where it matters to individuals. Can you manage change well? Can your employer manage change well?

Personally, I think I can. I think my company can. That does not mean I will vote not to leave the EU, as change is always "hard work". And this is one key point on the referendum, the age spectrum. As you get older you aim for an "easier life", and the means less change.

Personally I find myself at an odd time of life - I know how much I, and A&A, could exploit change by being agile and jumping on new opportunities. I also appreciate the reliability of no change and coasting on to the end of my life.

Who should be in charge?

I worry that some of the crap comes from Europe (back to cookie law), but I am increasingly worried about the crap that comes from our own Parliament. It is scary what they are planning in the move to Big Brother surveillance and police state with the IPBill - moves the EU can tackle and should tackle. So, again, I offer no answer as to who should be in charge! Well, maybe I should be, but sounds like a lot of hard work.

How to decide?

All I would say is that I would like everyone reading this to please be rational. Please research any concrete evidence and credible opinions you can find, as I will be doing. Please make an informed choice.

And do, please, think of yourself in this - what is best for you. Sometimes that may be what is best for your employer as that may be best for you, but do consider the overall impact of your choice.

And remember, being in or out of EU does not change whether we adhere to the European Convention of Human Rights or not, and if we adhere to similar UN conventions.

21 comments:

  1. Is the endless use of the word 'shit' in tonight's postings a sign of heavy drinking?

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  2. It's an interesting take.

    If I was asked a few years ago, I would have said yes without any hesitation - WEEE laws were poorly implemented and a bit of a nightmare for my business.

    But, if we ere to leave, it doesn't mean that WEEE and the other bits I hate would actually be rescinded.

    It would be interested if instead of all the BS from both sides (and I have seen so much crap shared by friends), someone should just really list the honest comparison of what it means to stay or leave!

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    1. It's a known tactic to blame unpopular but necessary legislation on europe, so the politicians here don't take the heat for it (if that isn't possible they make a single politician responsible for it, so at the next reshuffle everyone forgets to be angry about it, and doesn't blame the PM).

      I assume that in the event of us leaving the EU that none of this legislation would be removed.. the decision can really only be based on future legislation - assume what we have now will be identical and work out whether it'll improve things long term or make it worse.

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  3. We should stay. I have no idea about the benefits or otherwise, but I feel that having just finished a century of horrific European wars, binding nations together, however it is done, is the safe option. I also think it may protect us from the worst of extremism in policy-making, but I am unsure about this. I don't think it is healthy to think about the issue in terms of self-interest, or "what's in it for me". Looking at the long term, there are other issues to consider.

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  4. Interesting post. Staying in doesn't equate to no changes. The EU and the UK will continue to make changes if we vote to stay in.

    I'm not sure what's best either and I haven't found a good source of unbiased info. (Well the Beeb's EU Referendum Reality Check page is good at debunking some of the "facts" quoted by both sides.)

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    1. If the AV referendum is anything to go by the best thing is to shut yourself in a quiet room and ignore all media until it goes away.

      Alas, we seem incapable of having a mature debate about things in this country.

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    2. I believe some rules are enacted as regulations in UK law and leaving may have to create some primary legislation to allow that to persist maybe. Some EU law has direct effect on UK though, and that would vanish.

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  5. I'm interested in how many people are on the fence here. I would crawl over broken glass to vote to leave. I detest the imposition of distant power operated under such weak democratic control. It's unknowable whether we'll be richer or poorer if we leave (though the people who are so sure we'll be poorer tend to be much the same bunch who were wrong about leaving the ERM and wrong about joining the Euro), but either way we'd definitely be freer, at least to some extent.

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    1. "I detest the imposition of distant power operated under such weak democratic control."

      As would many sensible people.

      So, what about something entirely anti-democratic, something backed by distant global corporates, something like TTIP then?

      Does something like TTIP stand more chance of being blocked by a single country desperate to be allowed in to a large export market, or by a group such as the EU?

      Bear in mind that our own dear Lord "Two Resignations" Mandelson tried (when he was an unelected EU Trade Commissioner) to push through a TTIP precursor. The Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, ACTA, was negotiated by various unelected officials including Mandy, and then massively rejected by the EU Parliament.

      The EU is far from perfect and does need massive reform, which Cameron has utterly failed to deliver. Is staying in likely to be better than the alternative?

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    2. I don't really know anything specifically about TTIP, but the fact that people like Mandelson (and the Kinnocks) who have been clearly rejected by the British electorate still get to influence our laws is exactly the kind of thing I object to.

      Whatever low opinion one holds of the crowd in Westminster, I do feel that at least they're slightly more at the mercy of the electorate than the crowd in Brussels.

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  6. > Even my son worked in Sweden for a year, because he could.

    I would not want to lose the easy opportunity of going to _work_ abroad, just like that.

    (My Swedish is very rusty, in an awful state. It's an embarrassment to me, and I'm utterly hopeless with dialects.)

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  7. If you have a little bit of time, go read some coverage of the referendum in the news of other EU Countries. Mostly it's bafflement that anyone would ever want to leave the EU, especially in countries that have worked so hard recently to be admitted. Though there's also a few pro-EU types saying "let's let Britain leave, Europe will be better without all their demands and vetos and tantrums"

    For those talking about democracy, look at which governments lobbied and fought against increasing the power of the elected European Parliament and decreasing that of the unelected / appointed parts.

    Finally for those with concerns on immigration, do we really want to kick out a large number of young, working, net tax paying EU citizens, and instead get back a very similar number of elderly Brits, with lots of health issues and other expenses, who are currently living in sunnier bits of the EU?

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    1. Why would setting our own immigration policy have to involve kicking-out economically useful people? It's this assumption that decisions we make nationally will inevitably be worse than those imposed externally which is so depressing. It's not even like it would be a novel idea - lots of countries have immigration systems which allow them to select immigrants who are perceived to be beneficial while excluding those who are not.

      If domestic politicians genuinely believe we need 'x' people from country 'y' (and they could well be right), then they should have to stand up and make that case in the UK, not pretend that they don't like it but we all have to put up with it because of the EU.

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    2. If we stop accepting all EU citizens, and just cherrypick, then expect other EU nations to return the favour. That means the expensive economically inactive folks enjoying a retirement in the sunshine come home.

      The current points-based system we have sees many Universities and high-tech firms struggling to get the highly skilled people in that they want. With a government obsessing over migration numbers, and all the Brits abroad being sent back by EU governments after we tear up the freedom of movement stuff, I can't see how we'd be able to have a sensible debate + bring in the workers we do need.

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    3. @gagravarr Interesting point about reading the news from others' point of view, but not sure the point about the recent joiners holds water - they are all net beneficiaries of the EU budget whereas the uk is a net contributor. e.g. http://ec.europa.eu/budget/figures/interactive/index_en.cfm

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    4. Surely we're liable for the healthcare costs of the Britons-in-Spain anyway? Either they come home for their treatment or they're treated in Spain and the Spaniards reimbursed under the EHIC/reciprocal payment stuff?

      It's quite clearly perfectly possible to have a functioning high-tech economy without uncontrolled immigration - points systems (or other kinds of value-judgement) facilitate this in lots of non-EU countries. Of course, employers will *always* complain that they'd like more people in to lower wage rates, but their background complaining doesn't mean such a system can't work - the counter-examples demonstrate that.

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    5. If you were to read the newspapers in France, you would think that their relationship with the EU is rosy. Unfortunately, that's not what French voters think.

      There is a large section of the French population who would dearly like to leave the EU.

      The rise of the FN is directly related to their anti-EU position.

      They have previously rejected the European Constitution in a referendum where the result was ignored by their own government.

      If the UK leave, it will open the possibility of a breakup of the EU in its current form.

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    6. I believe there's a similar position in Norway - the politicians want to join the EU, the electorate doesn't. So the politicians can do things like joining the Schengen zone, and following EU directives - but they're not actually in the EU. So when we in the UK are warned that leaving the EU would mean we still have to put up with their rules - "just look at Norway", that's because Norwegian politicians have chosen that route.

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  8. My problem, despite having argued for staying in, is that I also agree that I hate the distant control and flimsy democratic accountability that goes with the current EU. How to reconcile the two? There's no way.

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