eu_referendum_uk

The big, final EU Referendum debate, held at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday night, seemed to do very little but reiterate both camps’ arguments and positions from recent weeks. Aside from giving Boris Johnson his dramatic “Independence Day” moment, both sides of the debate simply continued their same mixture of accusations, evasions and fearmongering.

What is remarkable is that, through all of these weeks of debate, *neither* side has really mentioned TTIP.

TTIP, the secretive US/EU trade agreement that many regard as both a threat to democracy and a game-changer for the full corporatisation of Europe by the United States, should be regarded as a reasonably big deal in the equation: but it has been pretty much avoided by both sides.

The Brexit/Leave campaign in particular should logically have been making much more of it (as the Remain campaign would have logical reasons to avoid the subject); but instead, the Leave campaign has chosen to be mired in the immigration debate.

In fact, if the Leave campaign had focused more on things like TTIP instead of immigration, it also would’ve avoided all of the stigma of being mired in racism and xenophobia. Instead, the Leave campaign – due mostly to more immigration-obsessed elements like UKIP and Nigel Farage – went the cheap route of over-emphasising the immigration factor and playing to what is perceived as typical working-class xenophobia, thus lowering the tone of the debate and opening themselves up to accusations of playing up to racists.

For the record, I personally don’t object at all to debates about immigration and suggestions that tighter controls are needed (which they probably are). What I object to – and always will object to – is the Far Right and outright racism. And a big problem with the Brexit movement has been that the Far Right has been allowed to hijack much of the discourse, and certain high-profile leaders in the Leave campaign have done very little to discredit or disavow those elements and arguments.

I also, for the record, think that the mainstream establishment demonises Nigel Farage too much and backs him into a corner too often, making him say or do irresponsible things. Even so, someone like Boris Johnson – someone more mainstream and less stigmatised by his views on immigrants – should’ve been allowed to steer the debate much more; but the media seemed to prefer going to Farage.

 

 

But had the Leave campaign not centered so heavily on the immigration issue – and rallied instead around issues like TTIP, or issues of corruption or lack of democracy – the debating in general might not have sunk to such stupid levels; and moreover, the Remain campaign wouldn’t have found it so easy to discredit the Leave campaigners.

The Brexit campaigners maneuvered in the passed few weeks to appeal to the lowest common denominator – xenophobia and mistrust. They frequently sought to appeal to the worst part of people’s natures: when they could’ve in fact tried appealing to the highest part of people’s natures – such as opposition to being governed from abroad or disapproval of secretly-negotiated and undemocratic treaties or trade agreements.

And also, given the widespread public awareness of – and opposition to – things like TTIP, they also would’ve been tapping into some degree of the popular zeitgeist. Instead, they end up looking and sounding like ultra-Conservative old men afraid of evolution, thus allowing the perception to take hold that every liberal or progressive element is in the pro-EU camp (which isn’t necessarily true – and the Leave camp does have some smart, progressive/liberal advocates, but their voices were drowned out by those more on the right-wing).

This unwillingness or reticence in discussing something like TTIP is very curious, suggesting that neither side wants to draw attention to the matter – even though one side definitely has a logical reason to bring it up.

Most of the conspiracy theories about TTIP are summarised here.

Leaked documents appeared very much to confirm most people’s fears about TTIP. Jorgo Riss, the director of Greenpeace EU, said: “These leaked documents give us an unparalleled look at the scope of US demands to lower or circumvent EU protections for environment and public health as part of TTIP. The EU position is very bad, and the US position is terrible. The prospect of a TTIP compromising within that range is an awful one. The way is being cleared for a race to the bottom in environmental, consumer protection and public health standards.”

Some analysts, however, already believe TTIP is destined to fail, given its exposure and a huge amount of opposition.

For balance, here is a positive explanation/defense for TTIP.

There was also no attempt to talk about how a secretive elite originated the EU as part of a envisioned path towards world government and that the EU was probably always intended to be a federal superstate. No mention of Euro federalists being financed by the CIA and manipulated by the US State Department, nor of the likelihood that the EU’s originators never intended it to be properly democratic.

And although there has been some sporadic mention – mostly by Nigel Farage – of the ‘EU Army’ being proposed by a former NATO secretary-general and being supported by a number of key, influential European leaders, this too mostly was kept out of the discourse.

_______________

There’s little argument that the quality of debate in these passed weeks has, in general, been very poor, with one side defaulting all too easily into the tired, cliched and divisive immigration issue, and the other side constantly scaremongering about the impossibility of life outside of the EU.

Perhaps one of the most intelligent observations have come from one of the quietest and most reluctant voices in the debate; specifically with Jeremy Corbyn, who has been highly critical of the EU but has nevertheless stood with the Remain camp. Corbyn has argued that the EU is massively problematic in its current form and needs great reform; but that Britain should be at that table in order to participate in those reforms. That seems like the most reasonable position; but Corbyn has seemed distant, even reluctant to get drawn into the debate.

Some may have forgotten, but actually the Liberal Democrat MP and former Coalition Cabinet member Vince Cable said a year-and-a-half ago that David Cameron was making a mistake in calling for a referendum at all. Cable had said that ‘a new referendum would be very different from the last popular vote on Europe in 1975 because Ukip has “significant allies” in the Conservative Party which has seen “a steady drift to shouting from the outside. This one will be different because the last one involved the centre and the Right arguing against the Left. This one will involve the centre and the Left arguing against the Right,” he said.’

The Telegraph had reported, ‘Sounding a pessimistic note for the pro-EU camp, Mr Cable noted that, unlike 40 years ago, Europe could not be held up as a beacon to of economic reform and success to British voters.’

Cable had recognised that the timing and conditions were all wrong, wouldn’t allow for an intelligent debate and would render the outcome – whatever the outcome might be – highly problematic.

Either way now, the final votes will be cast on Thursday and we will know the result by Friday. All accounts have it that the vote is extremely close and impossible to call in advance. But it is likely that the result will come down to voters who’d already had a clear preference long in advance – because it is unlikely that those uncertain and in the middle have been aided towards a decision at all by the propaganda campaigns from either side.

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Comments
  1. Mark says:

    TTIP is a bomb shell. Underestimated. I did. Recently, becoming a bit Paul Craig Roberts groupie, sat down to his devastating breakdown. Now this. And ‘…remarkable is that, through all of these weeks of debate, *neither* side has really mentioned TTIP.’

    Make a great T.Shirt to have paraded around campaigning gatherings. To repeat, be honest, until PCR spelled it out, I knew the danger-zone line on it but…

    Read a brief comment somewhere suggesting Remain would be a better defence against TTIP? No idea myself, but he/she said ‘this’, determined their vote. Least shows perspective? Let’s assume this person is incorrect, or there’s same danger each side; what lazy campaigning to overly make immigration the Leave plank. Especially, when immigration and the in/out/EU is only one aspect of ‘this question’.

    The ‘Far-Right’? The any Right, that overstates. And Left. Understates. Islam. And the city-problems/Muslim/Koran link pushed too far. And… (keeping over-concise): Anyone who insists on adding to their argument for western-based ‘terrorist’ incidents/threats = Islam? Yet, knows and names ‘false-flags’..? Well it shows, that only by throwing this in can they build up sufficient alarm. But don’t those who scream “Mus-lims…” understand or conveniently forgot ‘self-fulfilling prophecy?’ ‘Islam unable or unwilling to moderate?’ What? At all? And, all and all haters?

    More importantly what is our ‘commentary’ doing toward this? Or is it – and now the new whisper towards a shout of simple-minded solution – Mass Deportation? And so the ‘alt. right’ becomes..?

    Yes, re-corner backing and Farage and Johnson (more genuine than could suspect otherwise). The T.V. (sadly watching now/ish/news at 6) is-a j-o-k-e. Cannot help their brazen but sophisticatedly subtle bias. Won’t comment on the rest of your challenging insight, for space/time sake but one thought: Two moves… Established ‘Fox-types’ and new alt. (US-mostly) comic-based ‘Right’ are suddenly mixing it, with those who admit/rage against conspiracies. But, all kept when ‘hanging-out’ somewhat muted. (Price of fame). Only dating at the moment be I can hear them bells. Then what?

    And ‘the Left’ and few are/those call-themselves Anarchos have never been closer. (Not that they are/but…). And so my thang here is – Convergence. Anarchists and Marxists go on, to get the ‘bedlam’? Best hope I had for this Ref. and US/prez, is opening up to different and less-said questions. Policies and results, secondary. Growing-up, and those previously shut-off to rabbit-hole considerations.

    But… social unrest is quickening.

    Listening to a broadcast this week, (UK and Dutch person/s). The UK-er bemoaned ‘Muslims asleep’ – Dutchman, said his experience was otherwise. I agree. In my inner-city evangelism those originally from Islamic-based descent are open and somewhat, or a whole-lot more-know, up on who Isis etc really are? Whites? Thick as a brick. Or shrug… and “so-what”.

    Stir up here. More. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great observations, Mark.
      I have also a real problem with the right-wing having hijacked the alternative media discourse – especially in America, but also to some extent in Europe and the UK too.
      It becomes incestuous, with so-called ‘Truther’ movements getting all tangled up with right-wing propagandists and highly non-liberal agendas – often without even realising.

      Like

  2. migarium says:

    I knew that UK people will vote for leaving EU, two days ago. Because, two days ago Tayyip Erdogan said that in one of his speech: “The decision will be not to leave EU.” And whenever he says about anything, always, exact the opposite situation will occur. It has been always like that without exception. Kind of fortuneteller’s work with opposite inference:)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Did you see Erdogan get upset at Muhammad Ali’s funeral, because they wouldn’t let him make a speech?

      Liked by 1 person

      • migarium says:

        Yes, my Earthling friend. And there is the another side of this story. Yesterday, a Turkish journalist has written this subject. His name is Necati Doğru. Tayyip Erdogan and a group of 50 people including his family members went to funeral only for two days. And 2 million Turkish lira public money, equal is the 700 thousand dollars were spent just for two days. When considering that the half of Anatolian people are living below the hunger threshold, these poor people can’t afford kind of this luxury which is spend by state. Here is the news about this, it is Turkish but you can see the figures.

        http://haber.sol.org.tr/toplum/iste-kalem-kalem-erdoganin-muhammed-ali-cenazesi-ziyareti-icin-yaptigi-harcamalar-160418

        The era of Tayyip Erdogan and his political party AKP, almost every public areas were sold to pro-government people and the such rich emirs at the Qatar or Saudi Arabia. There is the huge money was gained from these areas. And there is the huge money was spend by the government and Tayyip Erdogan. For example his palace was build for 4,5 billion Turkish liras cost (accoding to the head of the Chamber of Architects of Ankara), this figue is equal with the 1,5 billion dollars. Here is the news about this, and you can see the figures again.

        http://www.diken.com.tr/mimarlar-odasindan-ak-sarayin-maliyet-tablosu-en-az-45-milyar-tl/

        Also, the land where his palace was build is the Ataturk Forest Farm, and this land has been bequeathed to the people of Turkey by Ataturk himself with his own bequest in written. Chamber of Architects of Ankara sued many times due to infringement of bequest. But they were refused because judgement has been captured by pro-government.

        Why I told these? Because, this is political islam, and this is an unique example for the management with the exploitation of religion. And this situation has occured due to high incidence of capitalist and imperialist managements of EU and US. While these manegements of these countries were telling lies to own people inside their country, they fed and supported the managements like Turkey. And the happenings at Muhammed Ali funeral, were just a show for me, the show which was made by both side. And the what is more worse I don’t know: The liars who are willing support the puppets at the first opportunity they will get or the puppets who are not aware their real position for the liars.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Erdogan gets worse and worse the more I hear 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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