Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Why are some otherwise normal people in favour of the UK being in the EU?

I always like talking to people who support the UK being a member of the EU. I really, really want to know why they think EU membership is good for the UK. I really want to know, because I can't see a single positive practical aspect of it, not one.

I have spoken to several (the few brave enough to come forwards!) at various times to get to the bottom of their support for UK being in the EU.

Its about UK membership, not the EU itself

For instance allowing exporters to meet one standard to export to all members of the EU - UK exporters would still benefit from that even if UK itself was not a member.

Often their first arguments are not about the UK being in the EU, but about the EU itself - these can really be dismissed - as whatever they think the benefit is, it has no relevance to the UK being an EU member. So it is just a matter of making clear the question. It is not about 'the EU' it is about 'UKs membership of the EU'. I'd qualify this dismissal by saying some are attracted to an organisation that they think 'does good' even if being a member makes no actual difference to it (glory by association) this 'influence' can't be completely ignored.

Two classes of logical argument

Once the focus is on UK membership of the EU, rather than the EU per se, the arguments they initially present usually fall into two classes.

The first class is issues that don't actually require the EU.

For instance - standards, laws and other things that the UK could perfectly well manage itself, you may agree that a particular EU law is a good thing, but there is no reason that the UK couldn't enact such a law itself outside the EU. The EU didn't invent these things, they are there for us to adopt, use, create etc. whether we are in or out.

And, of course, by being in the EU we are obliged to enact the standards and laws we don't approve of, and they even apply to domestic trade forcing up costs for items that are never intended for export.

The second class is those that are just bogus. 'Common knowledge'  but false!

For instance the free movement of labour, a good example to counter this is the French Civil Service - a UK teacher wanting to work in France is little better off than a new graduation - needing to do years of additional training. There is no will to change this - quite the reverse, the French (despite being a leading EU member) are getting ever more protectionist. This 'free movement' is primarily unskilled labour moving from poor member countries to richer member countries - and often to claim benefits rather than to earn a wage by supplying labour at all!

So why do you really support UK membership of the EU?

Having worked through the various arguments and dismissed them, and the dismissal being accepted as correct, the answer is... "I just do", "Its a good thing", "I like the idea of being part of it".

Simply, its an emotional attachment. Being 'in a group' appeals to some people - maybe the less confident, less secure about any change, who want to hide in the crowd. Those that aren't the 'go getting' people who want to strike out and make things better, happy to sit back and accept 'whatever' because it seems 'good enough' and don't really care that they are being fleeced and others are living far better lives than themselves at their expense!


The logical arguments are need to be made for the logical, sensible, rational people. But far harder to overcome will be the many insecure who are simply scared of change in case it makes things worse. 

They have to be sold a new vision, who is going to create that vision and circulate it? Who is going to pay for it? Time is short if it is to be established before the people are asked.