Friday, 10 June 2016

The EU Referendum. Yes, about that...

We shouldn't be having this referendum at all.

A promise made in the 2015 Conservative Party Manifesto, intended to coax UKIP voters back into the fold, has brought us to this.

Now here we are, in 2016, about to vote on something so important, that could have a negative impact on the lives of so many people, yet most residents I speak to feel ill-informed and don't know how to vote for the best.

I'm a Green Party member. I'm still permitted to think and say what I believe, but it happens that I agree 100% with the official Green Party position on this... we must REMAIN in the EU.

My Peterborough Green Party colleague Jon Phillipson Brown agrees. Here's what Jon has to say on the matter:

I feel really passionate about this, so I'm going to try and do a series of vids saying why I think the UK should remain IN the EU. Please comment, agree, disagree, share etc. as you see fit.
Posted by Jon Phillipson Brown on Thursday, 9 June 2016

Transcript: I want to say something about this EU referendum that we’re facing in the UK because it really worries me, the idea that the UK could leave the EU. It scares me, to be honest, and it bothers me that so many people seem to think that that might possibly work out for the UK. I think it would be an absolute disaster.

And it also bothers me that the campaigns on both sides have been really negative I think there are loads and loads of really good reasons why the UK should and must remain in the EU, so I want to make those positive arguments for staying in the EU. Here’s my first one.

We live in a world which is increasingly globalised. I hope everyone would agree with that. I think it’s true that the problems that we face and their solutions, be the issue terrorism or global warming or multi-national companies avoiding tax, these are international problems. They’re not problems that respect national boundaries and I think the solutions to those problems also lie in international cooperation.

Of course the EU isn’t perfect. There are loads of things wrong with it but it’s as good an organisation as we’ve got, and I don’t see any way in the foreseeable future that it can be replaced by anything better. Britain has a huge voice in the EU. We’re really powerful players in the EU. I think we would lose some of that influence if we left. We need to be in there, going to those meetings, on the pitch, not shouting from the side-lines. International cooperation is the way forward, not isolationism.

Watch the rest of Jon's brilliant blogs here

So what are the Green Party's reasons for encouraging us all to vote to REMAIN in the EU?

Fighting Climate Change

It's only through concerted international efforts that we have a chance of solving the climate crisis. The UK's membership of the EU is a crucial part of that fight. Renewable energy in the UK has been boosted by EU action.

Protecting Our Rights at Work

Paid holidays, maternity rights, and fair treatment for temps, agency and part-time workers come from our EU membership. The TUC (Trades Union Congress) has warned that leaving the EU would put at risk 40 years of progress on our rights at work. The EU promotes equality and diversity in the workplace and beyond.

Controlling Big Business

With corporations operating across borders, we need international rules to keep them in check - on wage levels, working conditions, and environmental standards. EU rules are helping to close tax loopholes and clamp down on tax dodging.

Protecting Our Environment and Health

Our beaches and rivers are cleaner, our air less polluted, and animals and habitats far safer because of EU protections. Our children are better protected from toxic chemicals. We benefit from over 100 European laws protecting people and the environment.

Tackling Poverty

EU funds help some of the most deprived communities in Europe - including many places in the UK. Working closely with other EU countries allows us to begin tackling the huge inequalities across our continent.

Creating Jobs

EU membership gives us a better chance of getting a decent job. 3-4 million jobs are linked directly and indirectly  to our trade with other EU countries - according to a range of studies by independent experts as well as the UK Government.

Freedom of Movement

As EU citizens, we are free to live, study, work, travel and retire anywhere across Europe. Freedom of movement enriches our lives, culture and opportunities.

Peace and Security

The EU has secured lasting peace in Europe after the bloodshed of the Second World War. The EU also has a vital role in spreading democracy, peace, and human rights throughout the world.

Because We Can Achieve So Much More Together

The EU isn't perfect, but to change Europe for the better, we need to keep our seat at the table. Greens are fighting for a more democratic EU, and for stronger EU action to protect our environment, tackle inequality, and challenge the power of corporations.

The EU ain't broken... it's a work in progress, and what it's already given us is so good that walking away now seems incredulous to me.

Those are the Green Party's top reasons for voting to REMAIN.  But I have another reason, and this one is at the top of my list:


I've dedicated virtually all of my life to campaigning to improve the rights of the older and disabled people who live in the UK. Disability is a broad spectrum, that includes:
  • people born with a disability
  • people who acquired a disability through an accident
  • people who acquired a disability as a result of an illness
  • people with long-term conditions
  • people who are aged 65 and over who have acquired age-related disabilities 
  • people with temporary disabilities cause by accident or illness
  • people with poor mental health
  • people with depression (short term or long term)
  • people with learning disabilities
  • people with reading disabilities
  • people with cognitive disabilities
  • people with autism spectrum conditions
  • people injured in accidents at work
  • people injured during armed conflict
  • I could go on...

... in other words, PEOPLE.

What we think of as 'good health' is a movable feast. The natural ageing process brings about many conditions, some temporary, some permanent, that mean we may need a bit of help doing all the things we want to do, like to do and need to do to be happy human beings.

I believe being a happy human being is a basic right of everyone. 

The thought that any of the measures that we have in place now at EU level that protect disabled people (i.e. all of us) might be taken away is very, very frightening indeed. 

I cannot understand why we would want to transport ourselves back to the 1850s, when disabled people had no rights at all and if you lived to be old (which was unlikely) you'd most likely live out your days in a poorhouse or workhouse.

Through our membership of the EU, we've be working hard to put policies in place to ensure our human rights. This isn't political correctness... it's humanity.

Baroness Grey-Thompson

In an interview with the BBC earlier this month, former Paralympian Baroness Grey-Thompson, said:

"Our membership of the EU has had real, positive benefits for the millions of UK residents with limiting long-term illnesses, impairments or disabilities. It has helped to counter workplace discrimination, obliged transport providers to make their services more accessible and secured access to some UK disability benefits for Britons living in other EU countries. Not only would leaving the EU jeopardise these, it would close us off from enjoying the rewards of upcoming legislation that will further increase accessibility and risk a recession that would leave less money to be spent on much needed support services."

I didn't spend the past 25 years working for disabled people's rights to throw it all away now.

I'm not interested in scare tactics or coercion. You must vote as your heart tells you. However, it's my belief that the EU has enabled us to build a strong body of disability rights legislation that is worth protecting. In just the past 20 years, I've seen rights for disabled people change and grow for the better because we have tackled the issues from a European perspective. Let's keep moving in this direction. 

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