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We Need To Talk About Europe

Over the weekend, news has come out that many young people in Britain feel disconnected from the EU, and yet still feel strongly to be part of Europe. It comes as we approach the European elections next month, and as UKIP push their anti-Europe agenda harder, trying to appeal to those who have become jaded with politics and feel that UKIP would bring local power back.

Let me get this out of the way: UKIP are the Tories on crack. You think Cameron’s policies on social welfare and selling off all our assets are bad? Farage would be a million times worse, since we’d probably lose a few human rights laws for minorities in the process. What’s more, those young British citizens who spoke positively of Europe would probably end up feeling even more disconnected.

UKIP have been sickening me with their recent prominent promotional attempts. Their billboards ads are full of lies, hypocrisy and twisted statements that simply don’t add up to scrutiny, but people are still blindly supporting them. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

This poster claims that many unskilled workers are losing jobs to an influx of European immigrants, and that this is the EU’s fault. Of course, it can’t possibly be the fault of the British workers who won’t take certain jobs because they’re “beneath them”, and let’s not forget that any company employing Eastern European workers because they’ll work for less than minimum wage is kind of breaking the law and should be reported instead of blaming the immigrants taking the jobs.

Then, of course, there’s the fact that the man on this poster is an immigrant taking a British person’s job, as many places revealed this week. Their supporters don’t seem to understand that it’s massively hypocritical to criticise UK companies for employing European workers while simultaneously doing that yourself.

With this, it’s easy to see what UKIP are aiming for. There is naturally outrage at politicians abusing their power and claiming expenses en masse at taxpayers’ expense. I would even argue that the only way we could punish this behaviour would be to scrap the expenses system altogether, coupled with a pay-cut, simply to show that they’re not there to live a champagne-fuelled life of luxury.

However, in order for a political party to call out other politicians for doing this, that political party needs to be pretty clean-cut and not abusing the expenses system. So, then, why exactly is Nigel Farage under investigation for his use of expenses as an MEP? Hmmmm.

This is an interesting one, since that sounds rather outrageous that 75% of our laws come from the EU and not from Westminster. However, I decided to do some research into this and found an excellent blog post on the matter that I feel everyone should read instead of anything I could put forward: find it here.

This is the best one. God, 26 million people after YOUR job sounds utterly terrifying, doesn’t it? Of course, a chunk of those 26 million are actually, get this, fellow UK citizens! The quoted figure is the sum of unemployment figures from every country within the EU, meaning the UK figures would be in there. Damn those British citizens moving around Britain taking British jobs!

It also neglects to mention that if you’re in a secure job role, no European citizen, British or otherwise, is coming for your job since, well, you’re already occupying that role and HR don’t really want to go through the administrative and legal minefield that would involve making you redundant and bringing in someone else. So, unless you’re a complete shit and your boss hates you, don’t worry about the Polish trying to steal your job.

Also, if you’re part of that 26 million and all the jobs in your desired sector are being taken by Poles, beat them at their own game and go over to Poland and take THEIR jobs! What? You didn’t realise you could do that? Well you can! Go nuts!

The problem is, all these shock statements and false statistics may win over the less aware citizens of this country, but leaving the EU wouldn’t solve anything. It is certainly true that we are in a time of great political apathy, a time of economic hardship for the majority and a time of social confusion in general. But the EU is not to blame for any of this.

Which brings me back to the point about young people not feeling engaged, and how difficult it is to find out what the EU means to them. Of course it’s difficult for young people to easily find information about the EU, because there’s an elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about, whether they’re pro- or anti-EU.

The EU has become a scapegoat for every terrible decision made in Westminster.

That’s it. That’s the real truth here.

The EU is not to blame for unemployment and the rising wealth gap, that would be the fault of the richest in society abusing their positions and evading tax at every turn, while simultaneously screwing over the lowest-paid in society.

The EU is not to blame for political corruption, since we would still have that if we weren’t in the EU, as evidenced by the entirely UK-based Parliamentary committee that felt that Maria Miller didn’t need to pay back all the money she leeched off the system despite the independent authority saying otherwise.

Perhaps those who blame the EU on our low export rate (yes, really) should ask why so many manufacturing industries in the country were shut down simultaneously over the last few decades by successive exclusively-British governments and why so little has come to fill that void.

The EU is not perfect by any means. I may be pro-EU, but I’m not stupid. There are a lot of things wrong with the EU that desperately need fixing. But are we really going to solve those problems by constantly bitching about it? By severing ourselves from it and probably having to pay higher rates and getting dictated to even more should we attempt to trade with an EU country? Absolutely not.

When was the last time a UK politician, including our elected MEPs, actually stood up and fought for Britain’s rights within the European Parliament? Because last time I checked, the last few years have seen exactly none of this. Britain has become the petulant teenager of Europe, turning up to Parliamentary debates (or not) and doing nothing but sulking before going home and complaining about how UNFAIR IT ALL IS WHY DON’T THEY UNDERSTAND.

You think UKIP will solve the problems with the EU? When their MEPs proudly announce how little they turn up to debates that affect the UK while pocketing their vast salaries for the privilege? Yeah, that sounds exactly like what we need.

What the UK needs when it comes to Europe is not the constant immature scaremongering about how the EU will steal all our jobs and our women or how they want us to change the shape of our bananas (they don’t). Instead, I have a better idea. How about we start pulling our fingers out, get actually engaged in the EU and stand up for Britain’s interests and make a real contribution to building and improving a strong economic union?

Not saying we do everything the EU says, not saying we should join the Euro, but actually put our money where our mouth is and prove that we are a powerful country that deserves a say on the world stage.

So let’s drop the scaremongering, the petty name-calling and the immature toys-out-of-pram throwing that we’ve become alarmingly good at, and start acting like mature adults capable of sensible debate. Our 18-24 year-olds certainly seem interesting in having this happen, so why aren’t their supposedly more mature elders?


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