In or Out? The Big Question in the UK
Familiar beats of music pulled me into a gigantic room of balloons and lights. Was I in an EU Referendum event or a Saturday night party? I looked at the booth in front of me to be met with smiling faces of two young ladies. We greeted and they asked me, “In, out, or unsure?”.
As I glared over the stickers, I knew what my answer was. I wondered what their take on the subject was. I asked the lady on my left, “Have you decided what you’re going to vote?”
She immediately said that she’s ‘in’, but she’s still unsure. I guess most people were unsure that night. I must have spoken to nearly half of the room, although I hoped to get through more than a half.
As I explored the room of data, similar to the excitement felt walking into a museum, I searched information and activity that would give me a better insight into the situation. Kiosks circled the room containing different types of interactive activities, which encouraged people to talk about and develop their opinions. The DJ was in the heart of the room as he played arguments in favour and against Britain exiting the EU. But the kicker of the night was when spoken word artists took the stage with a memorable performance of arguments in favour and against leaving the European Union.
This wasn’t the only highlight of my night. Everyone had quite a few (non-alcoholic) drinks at the bar. They were non-alcoholic for a strong reason; wait for it…
Bartenders prepared drinks according to people’s votes in the precise moments they had an opinion. They had a maximum 7 chances to get a free drink, which opened doors to formulate their stances and observe the patterns of their vote as it changed from drink 1 to drink 5, then 7 if they made it that far. Flavours were mixed according to not only whether someone was in, out or unsure, but also the degree to which they were sure or unsure about their current vote. I’ve had a bit too much pineapple in my drink, with an extra kick from a splash of orange. You can probably tell what my vote was by my drink. I won’t say it, but I’ll let you decide what it was.
What was the point of this data rave event? Beatfreeks is an organisation in Birmingham that adds the flavour we all want in the climate of politics, society, culture and art. They brought the first data rave in the world to the heart of Birmingham to encourage the question of Brexit or Bremain, which remains a subject of debate as we approach 23rd June.
The best bit about this event is nobody told each other what to vote for and what’s the right answer, because there isn’t a right and wrong answer. There can only be a rational answer one arrives to by themselves.
I’ve observed reactions for some time, and noticed a particularly passionate and angered response from a small populace on both sides. I’ve wondered what could evoke fervent reactions in people, because I’ve seemingly met a great number of people who are undecided. Upon engagement of facts and a healthily lengthy conversation in the data rave had people formed a sounder stance on their decision. Some of them haven’t arrived at a solid vote, but they were more informed by the end of the night.
There are issues to consider in great depth in the event that members of the UK put their votes in, but one of the striking narratives of this referendum is the voice of young people who this can affect in years to come. The younger generation are going to be the ones to deal with years of consequences of the referendum, and while everyone else would do so equally, the data rave connected young people in particular with other members of our community.
I’ve witnessed the desire to understand the situation effectively in bringing an engaged, informed and inspired discussion space for people between age 16 and 30. The data rave’s vehicle of success in bringing about a solid platform of expression was that it encouraged an unbiased approach to juicing out people’s views.
The economical and political facts have shaped reactions towards voters. Questions of immigration and foreign influence seem to reflect some pretty strong sense of unfairness felt by some in the UK and across Europe. Others feel there’s a lot at stake for everybody and that somehow it’s important not to interfere with how things are on a national and international level.
However, it comes down to facing complex, interdependent problems, and respond to them constructively. A moral case can be made for any issues related with remaining in the EU or not, but neither of them are right or wrong because there has to be more than being squeezed in just two options – Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?
Jill Robinson who works in Aston University says:
“On 23 June 2016 I intend to vote to REMAIN in the EU.
My head tells me that uncertainties around the current and future performance of our economy (already evident in the run up to 23 June) will only continue and will get worse if we vote to leave the EU. I believe that those who think we can ‘go it alone’ are living in a fool’s paradise. Britannia no longer ‘rules the waves’. We are no longer a world super power; yet many would have us believe that we still are. The geo-political climate has changed. We may still be the fifth largest economy in the world but for how much longer? Brexit supporters tell us we shall be able to make separate trade deals with a whole range of other countries that will be ultimately more beneficial to UK plc than being part of one of the largest economic blocs in the world. They need to think again. Do they honestly believe that global multi-nationals which have HQs or subsidiaries currently based in Britain to gain favourable access to the EU will keep a presence in Britain if we vote to leave? They can move to wherever they like in the world and some will. We cannot. We shall have to remain and pick up the pieces.
My heart and my emotions also push me to voting REMAIN. Having spent a few years living in mainland Europe before the Berlin Wall came down and then spending nearly 30 years of my life in the UK working with people in many different EU countries, I feel European as well as British Britain may be separated by a narrow strip of water from continental Europe but we are part of this continent; our heritage, our culture, our social and political values, our legal systems are all underpinned by a shared history.
This Referendum is the most important election of my lifetime. I am angry and extremely frustrated at the wilful scare-mongering and manipulation of data around issues like immigration, the economy and employment by those who should be putting the common good above self or party interest. The future wellbeing not only of my own generation and that of my children but those who come after us is at stake here. So please don’t leave it to others, make your voice heard and cast your vote on 23 June.”
Jill isn’t the only one to choose REMAIN. I spoke with Alexander, a PhD student at Warwick University:
“I was undecided for a while but now leaning towards remain.
I am leaning towards remain because of educational and research reasons. Educational reasons because I like the freedom that students have in moving around the EU to access cheaper Universities without the rigmarole of applying for visas and therefore costing them more money to travel abroad and possible delays to their University Education. This open freedom should actually enable competition among countries to provide the best publically funded Education that can be provided, but for some reason the British Government are continuously increasing the University fees. I am also leaning towards remain because it is my increasing belief that the UK Government has more of a say than a lot of people are trying to make out because, for example, even though the First Railway Directive encouraged EU member states to implement an open market for competition among railway providers, it did not actually encourage privatisation and also Governments in different countries have implemented the directive at varying pace, to various extents. Consecutive Governments for the past thirty years or so have chosen to implement as a full privatisation of the railways as they can, at a fast pace, much faster and to a much greater extent than was originally suggested by the EU directive. So, that makes me have the belief that a directive is a guide or a suggestion and not an actual law or a command to carry out what has been suggested to such an extent shown by the UK, which makes me increase my belief that the national Governments have more of a say than is really and fully understood.
Also, for the UK specifically, if we come out of the EU we would be governed by a neoliberalist Government that is focus on selling off public assets. They simply do not like public spending, in or out of the EU. Sovereignty and circumstances are starting to make me have the increasing belief that we are better off in than out.
I might be bias because of my own fields of interest but I think an effective Education is the key. As we have found out with the EU debate there is so much misinformation and misguidance out there but people do not appear to be willing to really investigate and question what is really going on and why. Education is the key that unlocks the potential of every person, of every community and society as a whole. Without Education there is nothing else, so for me Education is the most important aspect for Britain now and in the future.”
Quinn studies Law at Birmingham City University also votes REMAIN:
“I believe that it’s important for the progress of both Britain and Europe to remain united and make the necessary changes within the union in order to fully benefit, change isn’t going to happen if Europe doesn’t work together and recognise the needs of the member states.
I believe it’s important for the rights of the citizens of the United Kingdom to retain the rights afforded to them by the union specifically with the HRA. The UKs system is one which doesn’t afford such rights voluntarily lacking in a codified constitution therefore the protections offered are ones that have to be taken into consideration and protect the rights of people within the UK.”
Nikhwat also studies Law at the Birmingham City University and votes REMAIN, but he makes an open case:
BUT, there are issues.
There are genuine problems I feel with regards to the EU, I feel uncomfortable with certain elements of the EU such as their treatment of the Greek people, certain principles with sovereignty, the more biased immigration system to those within the EU and many other things which the darling of the left Owen Jones regularly speaks about (I just like most of what he says so of course I would call him the darling of the left). If anyone is interested in the issues surrounding the EU I would thoroughly recommend Yanis Varoufakis’ brilliant discussion with Paul Mason on “Why Britain must stay in the EU”
Why I’m remain however comes down to two things, Firstly workers’ rights and secondly the freedom to travel and study.
The EU has helped enshrine certain rights which should be simple requirements not something that has had to have been fought for, but change never comes from the top down always the bottom up.
Maternity pay, paternity leave, protection against discrimination at work to name but a few.
It’s a depressing reason but one I strongly feel nonetheless, I do not trust our current government to honour these rights post Brexit, a party that has been historically opposed to a minimum wage, actively wishes to scrap the human rights act (this act protects humans so unless David Icke is right and they are indeed reptilian humanoids from the future WHY would you even consider this!?)
If we must put our faith in governments and institutions how can I be expected to put my faith in a government that is stating that employment is up, yet at the same time food bank usage is increasing? These stats just don’t add up.
I could continue on and be openly biased as to my distrust of the Conservatives not just historically but also in their current iteration yet I shan’t (I would like to point out, I distrust the party not those whom actively vote Conservative).
My second reason, the freedom to travel and study. I’ve benefited from the freedom to travel within the EU with next to no restrictions visiting both Denmark, Brussels and Amsterdam, feeling welcome in all three places. How we make treat people when they arrive to our country has huge ramifications and I felt welcome, I felt accepted. This matters, it combats tenements of radicalisation by giving people a sense of belonging, it improves geo political relations and in an ever evolving as well as more diverse world, understanding one another on some level is now more important than ever.
If we are to shut ourselves from the world, what message does that give to people?
How welcome do they actually feel?
Furthermore, post my undergraduate I wish to do a masters in human rights, the possibility to travel abroad and study in any of the 28 member states is both an exciting and daunting prospect but one that I will be benefiting from immensely, in turn I hope by doing this I can give back to people. Yes it’s a somewhat selfish reason but it’s a thing not only I benefit from, but WE all benefit from. At least I’m being honest with you!
There’s a quote by Malcom X which I’m paraphrasing “I am still travelling, trying to broaden my mind for I’ve seen too much of the damage that narrow mindedness can make of things” Travelling away, seeing something different. Learning something different. It makes you better, it made me better and I believe it can do the same for you.
We shouldn’t sacrifice that.
What’s important right now for Britain as a whole? Right now and always will be for me?
Its inequality, in every form all forms of oppression are linked through intersectionality meaning we as people don’t truly achieve liberation until everyone has their rights, liberties and freedoms protected and enforced.
We can never claim to be the best country in the world when poverty is falling faster than ever but the 1% are still making obscene amounts, when homophobic hate crimes are on the rise, when sexism is so rife in our society that we shrug when we read daily instances of misogyny, when 1/3 people in 2013 admitted to being racist on some level, when over a million people literally cannot afford essentials in the fifth richest country in the world.
These are just examples of inequality and issues that we need to collectively come together in and provide solutions and proactive ideas to tackling.
I’m critical of Britain because I want Britain to be better.”
REMAINS put forth a compelling case for staying in the European Union. But what do the EXITS have to say about this?
David from Southampton makes a case for Britain to exit the EU with his thought-provoking response:
“Due to free movement of people throughout the EU and the resultant immigration, it means that there is an oversupply of unskilled labour competing for the low paid, low skilled jobs in the UK labour market. This creates wage compression for millions of unskilled workers, who struggle to make ends meet with minimum wage often being the maximum wage they can expect to earn. I think this distortion of the labour market is terribly unfair on the people it affects and for this reason I would like the UK to withdraw from the EU. We often hear leaders in big businesses telling us that people in UK would be better off inside the EU, but for which people? The rich do very well from this uncontrolled immigration, I’m sure. They have themselves a servent class, which they only need to pay minimum wage, to have them meet the needs of their big business and their personal needs. So to protect the low skilled, working class people of this country against wage compression and in the name of equality and stopping this gap between rich and poor ever widening we must withdraw from the EU.
The wage compression would instantly be rectified and I think our economy would be relatively stable. Even if the economy is harmed in some quarters I believe it would be worth it for fairness to British people overall. It will be worth it firstly because the current level of immigration creates unacceptable wage compression for low earners and that’s a major injustice. Secondly democracy is an important concept for me and to therefore gain total control over our own affairs is also very important and is worth it if the economy suffers a bit.
I think people have pretty much heard everything they need to hear to make an informed decision now.
We outers are actually the true progressives in this debate. I mean the EU is an inherently old fashioned institution. It was devised before I was born, so I don’t think we outers are looking to take Britain back to the past, but to take us forward in to new territory in a very progressive sense. These federalist ideas belong in the twentieth century.”
JP Jon from Birmingham is unsure, leaning on LEAVE for Britain in the EU by 51%:
“I’m unsure because of the blatant propaganda, lies and nonsense. Politicians like to scaremonger and no one is telling the straight up truth. The truth is something we have to proactively informed ourselves about. There’s obscurity because we pay poltiicians and the government very well to know things for us and do what’s in the best interest of the country. They put decisions on us – which I have nothing against, as I’d sure like to be an influencing factor in my country’s decision – but nobody knows what’s going on. There are complex problems in our country and the part we play in the EU, so there are issues either way. So can people really make a decision decision with just two of these options?
There’s manipulation going on in the sense that personal and corporate agendas exist. They have a range of agendas, whether it’s about jobs, funding, societal aspects, and everything else. There’s a bias going on, and for this reason opinions are massively obscured in the way they’re presented to us and we can’t get our head around it. We pay them so that we can know what to do, because they would show us what to do. They would have to present information factually to us.
It feels like the responsibility is on us because the ones who will make the decision in the end don’t want to take the blame. I think it’s so important to get a well-rounded set of facts and an informed discussion, in order to arrive to a rational response. There isn’t a right and wrong answer to this referendum. You’re just having to deal with it because it’s an option and you have to think about the best interest of the country when you decide what to do. You can make a case either way – whether you’re in or out.
I watched a documentary somewhere of the first world war. A man was torn about his life options. He either stays home with his sick mom to look after her, or he fights for his country. Would he play a small part in looking after someone, or have a big effect in the world by joining the army and fighting? He chose to play the small part in a massive way.
Which option would you choose, and which one is right? There’s no such thing as a right option. You can choose either to look after a sick person or fight in war. It comes down to your moral code. Nobody can advise you but they can help you to analyse the situation and your options within it. Nobody can tell you to do either of these two things. You can make a moral cause for either option. For some of the issues there isn’t a right answer. This Brexit and Bremain debate feels the same way.
I’m leaning on LEAVE because Britain can manufacture themselves. I don’t like how some people are delusional to think Britain will be what it used to be. Are we suppose to just strip off immigrants that moved to Britain already, technology that advanced us as a society, and the part we played in the middle east for years, and go back to the 1920s or the 1950s? What kind of past are we expecting Britain to go into for recuperating its greatness?
Instead of trying to make it what it was, we need to move forward into the times. We have to go forward with values that reflect the Britain we want, and leave what will take us back to the old times. We don’t need outdated values and beliefs about Britain. It’s not going to happen.
To go forward is to establish past values in the future. For example, don’t kick out recent immigrants and just understand how they’ve shaped the narrative of our Britain. If this changes where do you cap it off? Does someone have to be born here to not be classified as an immigrant? Or do the numbers of years someone has lived here determine that? What about families we’re connected to? Things like this need to be discussed otherwise we risk entering a climate of oppression, and end up in times where equal rights isn’t even a discussion. We’ll just end up in a whole different ball game.
My end decision is to LEAVE the EU because I’m fearful of the implications of finding the Britain that it used to be in the context of our contemprary world and the future that we need to move forward into as well as inevitably moving towards. Secondly, the European Union is in a mess. As much as Britain doesn’t have the influence it used to have in the world, it has a chance to potentially get more respect. It’ll gain more control over itself and the part it plays globally.
Ramisa, a student of Political Sciences at the Universty of Nottingham says:
“I’m voting LEAVE because if we took back a lot of the money we budget into the EU we can look after our own priorities. We have a lot of things to develop as a country and can do it perfectly on our own. EU has a lot of mess and a lot of the countries have suffered. Britain can go a long way on its own.”
The Prime Minister, David Cameron promised the UK a referendum when he was reelected, and he promised that he’ll go by the votes.
What would your vote be? Comment below.