Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Dear Tracey - why I'm voting remain.

Dear Tracey,

Hi, how are you? It's been a while since we've spoken over social media but I saw your post on Facebook and wanted to respond at length and felt a blogpost was a better format than a comment.

My regular readers, if there are any left, and yourself will know that I am a  supporter of yours across party
lines. I've always admired your hard work in the constituency and that all of your decisions have been well thought out. At the heart of all of your decisions is your heart, conscience and your constituency even if it goes against your party's position and that, in my mind is what a MP should do and why you have my support and admiration - if I lived in Chatham I would have, secretly, voted for you.

I'm pretty much in the same position as you. When I moved house some four months ago I lost all television signal. I also try to avoid newspapers as it is far to easy to gravitate to ones you agree with and dismiss those you don't as scaremongering and hokum. A prime example is yesterday's Daily Mail headline about the ten million Turks coming this way - a headline that hasn't been seen since the crusades.

I have also had some serious personal problems which almost cost me my marriage and I gave up my Liberal Democrat activities so lost that line of information.

I have spent a lot of time listening to my friends and colleagues and their opinions and beliefs, weighed things in my head and come out with a side that I am mostly happy with. 

I agree with you that both sides are guilty of scaremongering and manipulating figures and I've tried to ignore them as well - it isn't good for my stress levels.

Let me bring you to where I'm at.

Firstly, and I'm sure you know this, but Medway is more than likely going to vote out. Just a cursory glance at the last round of Euro elections and the Police commissioner's election you can see UKIP surging ahead. This shouldn't have an impact on your decision as I believe it has a local colleague but it is something you may have to contend with in time. 

Immigration is a problem in Medway, sometimes I feel it seems a bigger problem than it is. Although international is a problem, one that always arises when cultures collide and it is a separate debate that needs to be had. 

The concerns are very real though with the first being jobs. It is easy to gloss over and say that a foreign worker in a job is a Briton out of work but that is not always the case. I remember seeing a segment on the South East's Politics on Sunday about Romanian Fruit pickers. The reporter went to a local job centre to ask Britons if they would pick fruit only one person said yes. It seems no one wants to clean streets, work in supermarkets or at McDonald's - all valid careers (I've worked at two of the three).

I think blaming immigrants for the strain on services has also got flaws. When I was born in 1980 there were three hospitals and Canada house, now we have one that is struggling to meet demand. On the rare occasions I go to the GP with the children it is not a swarm of foreigners in the waiting room but white Britons with minor ailments that my parents would have self medicated. 

Successive British governments have cut hospitals and other services including the police and fire brigade as well as selling off social housing. It was only a matter of time before we reached this point and although it is easy to blame Europe for reaching it now it is hard to believe it could be avoided.

On the subject of cuts the EU also invests money into many projects and businesses across the nation and in Medway including youth and tourism projects. The BREXIT campaign would argue if we weren't in Europe and sending £Xm a year (whatever the final figure is) then the British government would invest in them. I find that a bit of a tall order especially in these times of austerity and the government would find "better" places for the money to go.

It is true the EU is far from perfect and there are many things that need reforming but there are also some great bonuses too.

As a member of a family of Police officers I cannot tell you how excited I am about the EU policing treaties that allow us to share information and issue warrants for those who commit crimes and try to hide abroad, no more buggering off to the Costa Brava after a jewel heist. A good example was a man who posted indecent images of children on the Internet. Within hours the Danish police had picked them up and using location and search tools were able to pin-point his residence and the following day the Leeds police raided his home.

There are other things, which you have listed including cleaner beaches, moves to enforce greener fuel, safety etc...

For me, I worry about economic uncertainties. Britain is no longer a global Empire that produces the majority of the world's ships or refined cotton. Should Britain leave we'll have to negotiate our own trade treaties with the EU, America and Far East but what do we trade? We can't fall back on the Commonwealth.

When I look at the Brexit I think of the first game of Connect 4 I played with my daughter. When she lost she folded her arms and refused to play any more. It is a priceless look that I'm sure you'll see it on Freddy's face in the near future - it is a priceless expression.

If I could use a football analogy;

You're playing in the Euro 2016 final against Germany, Thomas Müller takes a dive as he passes you and the Ref calls you over for a yellow card. Do you walk off the pitch, hang up your boots and refuse to play anymore OR do you protest the decision, fight to clear your name and carry on with the game?

I personally believe if our MEPs embraced the EU rather than refusing to do anything, as our current UKIP MEPs do, we might get more of a say. 

I look back at the state of Britain and Europe over the last century and there is a declining Empire, distrust of minorities, finances wrecked by bankers and general strikes as well as a continent ravaged with world war twice. I see a lot of what has happened before still happening now but things are improving especially with international cooperation.

I can't help thinking it is better the devil you know.

I want to make a sound decision for my children and their children and I hope that I have made it.

I know that you will make your decision after many hours of consideration with your heart and conscience without being pressured. 

I hope all is well with you and your new family.

All the best, and good luck making your decision.


P.s. Remember me when you are Prime Minister and you want a biography written - my publisher's always after new ideas and I'll write a very good one!