#weloveEU or at least we did before #brexit

It’s day 5 in the Brexit house and the housemates are still divided. Actually, this one has just about calmed down enough to write a coherent post. I’ve spent the past few days apoplectic with rage (that doesn’t do POTS any good btw) and swearing at more people than I cared to mention. 

There’s been so many more well written and eloquent posts describing just why I’m so enraged: this one in particular, so instead I’m going to do what I do best: take a deep breath and identify some practical things that people can do to make an attempt at shaking off this image that we’ve generated that all Britons are navel gazing racists looking to restart colonialism. We’re not. Some of us are really rather recent.

Firstly, we need to understand what we’ve done. Yes, all of us. If you are in the remain camp, some of us (and I hold my hands up) assumed this would never happen in a million years and were complacent, some of us (yep, me again) were too patronising to change people’s minds with our figures. We made the awful mistake of thinking that only the ultra right wingers & UKIPpers would vote out; we were wrong. Watch the video below & know we should have tried harder. I do believe part of my raging over the past few days has been feeling guilty that I didn’t do more to stop this shitstorm.

If you voted out (and forgive me, because I’m doing my best to be understanding & all in it together, but it’s not easy), watch this video. Listen to what this elderly woman is saying. Why? Because every out vote facilitated the racist behaviour that makes her too scared to leave her home. You might not be a racist, but your vote facilitated them. You might not be a racist, but you gave the right wing groups a mandate to hate anyone who isn’t white with a British sounding name in public without fear of public outrage. Why? Well, you wanted to take our country back.

Of course, this could just be one isolated incident of nasty pensioners smearing excrement on their neighbours door. Except, I present you with exhibit B, Twitter. I searched for the hash tag #safetypin  (I’ll explain why later)

Just a choice few – I do suggest reading the responses.

This person who might not entirely get where we left…

Or let’s go with blatant racism

OK, so what can we do now? Well, let’s start by acting like humans and being that person who steps in if we hear racist language. Don’t be afraid to use your teacher voice with kids trying to be big & clever – you’ll be surprised at how quickly a bully will stand down when they’re called out for exactly what they are.

An onwards to the almighty safety pin. It may seem like a limp attempt at middle class activism, but for now I’ll be wearing a safety pin in a visible place. Why? As a visual sign that you can approach me with a smile, a question, ask for directions, or if needed ask for help, no matter your race, nationality, gender, or sexual orientation. Importantly, the safety pin isn’t just a sign that I’m not a racist, it’s a symbol that I won’t just stand idly by. I will help you. Hell, I’ll risk yanking out my arms to get to you & I’ll run that bastard over in my wheelchair if need be.

Not everyone is on board with it.

Do I think it’s sad that we should need to do this? Yes.

Do I think it’s worth it if it just makes one person feel safer? Yes.

Am I still a European Citizen? For now & I’m looking at ways I can answer ‘yes’.

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Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

I took the girls shopping yesterday for clothes. “Shop until you drop” consisted of 3 shops & Beanpole pushing my chair as I didn’t have the strength to self propel. And then a nice lady approached me…

I knew who she represented as she tried to give me a bunch of leaflets, and I was just at the right level of pain and tired to fire from both barrels.

She asked me to vote to leave the EU.

The original arguments for & against (before the politicians lost their heads and went apocalyptic)

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But I have grown up as a European Citizen and see myself primarily as European before British. On more than a number of occasions, I’ve been embarrassed to identify as British and when exercising my freedom of movement, do what I can to show that we’re not all arrogant arseholes. Whilst away, I have watched my children play happily alongside other children of French, Dutch, German, & Spanish origin with the language no barrier (the language of loom bands is universal) and have been proud to raise tiny humans who see other humans as just that no matter what colour they are or who they pray to, if they do at all.

As my personal experience of being a European Citizen has been overwhelmingly positive, I had some questions.

Question: If we leave, who guarantees my right not to be discriminated against because of my disability?

Her: Oh, well it then becomes up to us and our government wouldn’t allow it.

Cue raised eyebrows and me giving a few examples of why the current government probably needs the EU tapping it on the shoulder. Eg. In 2009, the then coalition government investigated scrapping the Equality Act which includes things like workplace tribunals insisting that other workers do not face the same or similar discrimination. The EU ensured that most of the act remained, but that particular part was indeed scrapped.

Her: Ah, but did you know that the day after we vote to remain the EU will legislate to privatise the NHS??!

I asked for evidence & she had none, so later I went looking on FullFacts.org for some unbiased research. Here’s what I found. So, yes. IF we allow privatisation of the NHS, and I’m looking square at you Cameron, it may be more expensive to reverse it. However, the bits that the Torys haven’t sold off would be protected. So, actually, the only people we have to fear are our own government who are hell bent on asset stripping everything they touch.

Question: What about the cost of leaving? The figures seem to show that we would pay more per head to remain in the single market?

Her: yes we would have to pay, but we would have control of our exports. Other countries will still buy from us – they’re not so vindictive that they would just stop.

How much would be offset by increased export in this per head figure?

Well we don’t have a figure as business changes, but look at all those French workers protesting and setting fires; we’re paying for them to refuse to work a decent days work. The French revolution happened for a reason…

What? That’s a bit of a leap! But back to the facts, how can you campaign on an unknown?

As I said, our exports will be our own so we can decide how it’s run without interference and they need us more than we need them…

My own research looks worrying. I’m looking for unbiased sources to get facts rather than posturing, so looked to the London School of Economics. Because, it doesn’t get more dry and maths based than accounting.

10% of our imports come from Europe. And we have a trade agreement in place for goods. 50% of our exports go to Europe, again with a trade agreement.
So what happens if we leave?
We have to negotiate new terms.
What are the new terms?
We won’t know until they’re negotiated.

…leaving us in financial limbo.

So what about individuals?

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What the chart is saying here is that best case, the average household will be worse off by £850 each year. Now using a mean average, that’s not every household hit, but the ones who feel it most tend to be those on the lower pay scales, and for some full time workers, that could equate to a months wages. That’s one hell of a hit for a best case scenario (with worst case losing over 2 months wages).

I want to be unbiased, but being presented with these raw figures is enough to sway me very much one way.

Question: If we leave, what happens to the human rights act?

Her: well we would have our own version of it. We created it after all.

She’s absolutely right there. The UK was at the forefront of creating the human rights act.

An interesting look which appears to give an unbiased before & after in the Telegraph writes

However any decision to withdraw from the Convention – a move the UK could make now – is likely to have a significant negative impact on the UK standing in Europe, the United Nations and the county’s moral authority around the world.

So the lady was correct, a Brexit doesn’t automatically mean we drop the convention. But, it does lean toward withdrawing as there is less pressure.

There have been a string of high profile cases where human rights have made things awkward, but there must be some good it does if we signed up?

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So, being selfish here:

Article 2: a right to life – no matter how crapped out I am, you can’t force me to die because I’m a burden.

Article 3: a right to not be treated in an inhumane or degrading way… and here I asked her about PIP. Is this humane?

Her: No, not at all. Those dreadful interviews are being carried out by a French company (she’s referring to ATOS here) and ruining disabled people’s lives.

I fear she rather missed the point…

Article 4: all I’m putting here is the Work schemes.

Article 7: benefits sanctions – a punishment, but we’re they breaking the law by missing an appointment by being at work/ at an interview / too sick to get up….

Article 8: my ISP holding my browser history. My personal messages to my husband no longer using end to end encryption…

Article 9 & 10: Facebook photos being used by DWP to “proove” people are well. Me being worried about blogging my experiences with DWP in case there were repercussions (a genuine fear of being rejected because I was openly negative about the process).

Considering the points above & the cuts in disability assistance made by this government and also when they were part of a coalition, it’s not a great surprise, but should be a great source of shame that the UK is the 1st first world country to be investigated by the United Nations for violations of human rights with regards to the treatment of people with disabilities.

Interestingly, we barely touched on immigration  (I had been keen to know what would happen to all our 5 million EU ex-pats), and we parted very on civil terms, agreeing to disagree.

The Leave vote continues to scare the living daylights out of me, but I appreciated the calm & dignified debate and if nothing else, that lady sparked a political flame that reignited my interest for actual facts rather than a gut feeling. I may not be voting her way, but I will vote with my head & heart.