Thursday, 9 June 2016

What the Liberal Democrats are saying about the EU Referendum

I was delighted to receive the email about the Lib Dem leaders European event and signed up immediately because, frankly, the EU referendum debate has been inundated with arguments that don't always make sense and are often factually ambiguous. I am quite often irritated these days because of this.

The Lib Dems leaders,Paddy Ashdown, Ming Campbell, Nick Clegg and Tim Farron, didn't let me down and it was excellent to see a united front on display. It felt like quite a historic moment for a young person like me.

The event took place at the BAFTA offices in Piccadilly. Each leader began with an impassioned speech explaining what staying in Europe meant to him and why we should adopt the same approach.

My favourite remark came from Tim Farron who said that those who support the leave campaign are "selfish" and should set aside their own prejudices or beliefs for the good of their children's future and how we should avoid being, "insular, isolated, alone or irrelevant". He said that he was not making the decision to vote in as a politician but as a "parent and a patriot". Tim also attacked the out campaign and referred to it as "sheer dishonest elitism". Tim's analysis was spot on because of his emphasis on a concern for the future generations if we were to leave the EU.

I spoke to Tim afterwards and got a good account about his beliefs. He explained than any young person voting should, "consider educational opportunities, work abroad and most importantly climate change." He sees climate change as an extremely pressing issue for future generations and that we would be "better equipped to deal with it in the EU". He also said that staying in the EU would be a "smart outward looking statement".

Paddy displayed a similar sentiment to Tim in that he addressed the importance of the EU's help with future generations. Leaving, he said, "would be an act of historic folly which our grandchildren and children would be bound to pay the price". Paddy repeatedly praised the EU and placed emphasis on it's ability to act as a tool for avoiding conflict as he referred to it as, "the greatest peace making institution that we have ever seen".

Ming also praised the EU by explaining that membership is beneficial to Britain as it holds, "complimentary affiliations" which mean that we are able to work together for mutual benefits.

Nick conveyed the need for affiliations with the EU by positioning the UK as an international foreign policy player. He said that if we are to act on an international stage "how else are we going to go toe to toe with great superpowers other than doing so with the collective clout that we have through the European Union?"

I was compelled by these arguments which continually reiterated that we are stronger together and that we benefit from the EU as 3 million jobs are linked to trade with the EU, 89% of businesses back staying in Europe and because EU membership has increased average UK salaries by £1,800. 

The debate then moved to questions from the audience. The leaders were asked about the non factual and unsupported information being put out by the leave campaign. These so-called fact come via those such as Michael Gove who claimed that the NHS would receive £100m more a week in funding if we left the EU. The leave campaign has not only been riddled by false statistics but also by false and harmful sentiments such as Farage referring to sexual assaults by immigrants to stir anti-European feelings.

Tim and Paddy who noted the appeal of providing simple solutions to complex questions for the general populace rather than solid facts. The help of the EU in dealing with the migrant crisis and the potential of a subsequent Scottish referendum as a result of an 'out' vote were addressed in further questions.

Nick Clegg also furthered his case by not only addressing the importance of economic benefits from the EU but also the cultural ones by providing a narrative of cultural benefits from the EU and stating that we are, "culturally entwined with Europe as it is a part of our cultural landscape" and that we are, "better for it".

It was a successful event and if I could vote I would certainly be putting an 'X' beside 'Remain'.


This article was originally written by me published on Lib Dem Voice:

http://www.libdemvoice.org/what-our-liberal-democrat-leaders-are-saying-about-the-eu-referendum-50868.html#comments

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