It has been marked that each of the opposing campaigns in the EU Referendum ‘debate’ fully took their strategy and colour from their sister ‘In’ and ‘Out’ campaigns in the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum.
Each campaign for staying in the respective unions was negative, arrowing in hard on the economic consequences; with the level of consciously dishonest ramping up of that position even more pronounced in the EU Referendum – presumably fuelled by the ‘success’ of the tactic in the Scottish excursion.
Each exit campaign had, in equally conscious dishonesty, offered unfettered promises of a land of milk and honey in waiting outside the union in question; and dismissed out of hand all warnings of economic damage and risk of more of the same, regardless of the weight of legitimate evidence.
For Argyll was contemptuous of both campaigns in the Scottish Independence Referendum for these reasons; and is so again of the EU Referendum campaigns – for the same reasons.
As with the Independence Referendum, we expect the result of the EU Referendum to be a definite but not resounding result in favour of continuing membership of the union in question.
It is not unreasonable for the majority of people to play safe with their futures; and both a Scottish exit from the British union and a British exit from the European union carry some certain costs and some potential penalties.
Conversely, an independent Scotland and a Britain outside the EU would be viable – if those that support either were and are willing to take a period of genuine economic pain and to work to pay for the achievement of their dreams.
The fact that the SNP’s Yes Scotland campaign did not present its audience with that reality but chose to disguise it in a patently false and morally ramshackle prospectus for indy – and the current replicating of that strategy by the Brexiteers – would indicate that politicians do not believe that the people are ever willing to pay for their preferred constitutional position.
For Argyll’s enduring contempt for both of the exit campaigns is that these particular deceptions put most at risk those in society who are simultaneously the most financially vulnerable and the most susceptible to believing without challenge false arguments of the ‘something for nothing’ kind.
We would have respected either or both of these campaigns had they the integrity to say to their audience that there would be a period where the country and they would be worse off – but that together the country and they could come through that and prosper, if they determined and worked to do so.
It is worth recording [and the published archival evidence demonstrates this] that For Argyll vigorously supported Scottish independence – until this direction of the Yes campaign became evident. No one with any probity could have supported it after that.
It could not be more clear that the single primary issues of each of the EU Referendum campaigns were the economic risk [Remain] and immigration [Brexit].
There has been so much smoke and mirrors conjured up on these issues by their promoting camps that there is absolutely no point even in beginning to challenge their deceptions.
We propose to add a couple of simple insights into these issues and leave it at that, before setting out our own commonsensical standpoint on the vote.
On economic risk
In the EU campaign, the single trustworthily independent expert analysis came from the Institute of Fiscal Studies – which found that the cost of Brexit would be two additional years of austerity.
No one could say that, for those who want out of the European Union, this would be an insupportable price to pay.
In 2014 and today, flight of capital and diminished inward investment in the event of an ‘out’ vote are not scaremongering threats but a commonsense reality.
This is what moneymen do. They protect money from as much risk as possible by taking it to the most secure and profitable places – and their investors, including the vast pension funds, expect them to do so.
That flight of capital would be immediate and indeed in both referenda instances, there was evidence of advance protective activity of this kind.
But capital and inward investment are equally quick to respond to the opportunities where there is evidence of promising new directions and of growth.
Fear of immigration is not automatically racist, although a hefty proportion of it undoubtedly is. Much of it is an ingrained human fear of ‘the other’, with each of us being, in national origin and in faith, ‘other’ to others.
Some such fears, however Canute-like, are the perfectly respectable and sympathetic fear for the loss of the settled regime of a culture.
This country has made a mess of immigration in many ways, some of them dishonourable, some actively dangerous and some simply systemically incompetent.
Historically, we denied British citizenship to the people of Malta – whose little island was almost flattened by the Luftwaffe in World War II – because we needed to use it as an advance naval harbour; and whose people were literally starved – but not into submission – by the German blockades and attacks.
Instead of the citizenship they had a right to request, we conferred the George Cross Medal upon the entire island – a cynical cheapskate substitute for substance that is to the shame of both nations – ours for enacting it and Malta’s for accepting it.
Then we chose similarly to neglect our responsibilities to Nepal’s Gurkha fighters whose legendary courage and whose lives had for long been given to the military support of Britain. It took Joanna Lumley , her shout of the Gurkha war cry, Ayo Gorkhali and her magnificent public manipulation into supine concessions by the British Government Minister of the day – to get any shift in this disgraceful state exploitation.
More universally damaging has been the lack of conviction in the cultural rightness of our own laws – or a disconnected lack of respect for them – which led Jack Straw to be the senior government minister to come out with the absolute idiocy of suggesting that in some areas Britain might introduce either elements or a proportion of Sharia Law.
Other countries straightforwardly and reasonably expect those who choose to come to live there to obey unquestioningly and to accept the discipline of the prevailing laws of the land.
Why don’t we?
But Britain has weakly cavilled on the natural authority of this position and has allowed a situation to develop which can only lead to an almighty, shapeless and unmanageable mess in law.
Any nation ought to require new residents to live under its laws and cultural mores. That has to be the sine qua non of living in any country – and the great majority of migrants have choices they are free to make.
Britain’s post-imperial loss of self-confidence, which is understandable and sympathetic, has led to Britain no longer knowing where it stands itself.
This weak ‘anything is possible’ [and it never is] evinces the absence of leadership that underpins the genuine authority any nation needs; and breeds the sources of antipathy that express themselves in forms of indigenous racism and, less poisonously but equally impactful, in deep rooted fears of otherness.
So what to do on Thursday?
Our editorial position could not be more simple.
Regardless of the full spectrum of sound and shoddy issues put forward by both sides, one single fact is all but unarguable.
Family supports the troubled in bad times and reins in the triumphant runaway successes by foregrounding internal mutual responsibility.
Family is not comfortable but full of internal rivalries, fallings out, predations, shifting alliances, mischief, sulks and selfishness.
But family comes good under fire and family does not sacrifice the weak.
However successful a person or a nation, fortune shares her favours. Any individual and any country hits crises from time to time.
Loners can do fine in good times but come the storms [and they routinely do], every one of us – even the naturally strong – needs to know that there is certain shelter for us.
Beyond that, for the weak, that shelter is a permanent need.
We see every reason why those who are naturally strong should accept responsibility for protecting those who are naturally weak.
This is how any family works.
We will therefore vote for the family of the European Union – and we recommend it; just as we voted for the family of the British Union and continue to recommend that.