Wednesday 26 October 2016

Let's hope UK Remains - but don't count on it

Published 29/05/2016 | 02:30

Campaign: Pro-Brexit Conservative MP Boris Johnson tries to convince voters ahead of the referendum.
Campaign: Pro-Brexit Conservative MP Boris Johnson tries to convince voters ahead of the referendum.

Next month, the UK will vote on Brexit.

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That, depending on your point of view, will result in one of two things - all the Colonel Blimps and Mrs Blenner-Hassets from Middle England will rouse from their slumber, turn off the cricket and vote a resounding Yes, all the better to stop Johnny Foreigner coming into the UK and bringing their weird food and customs with them.

The other view is that the decent people of Britain will finally declare that they are citizens of the world who want to be centre stage in Europe and who feel that they should be doing more to help the less fortunate from other countries.

As is often the case with a referendum - and it's something we know only too well in this country - logic is often the first casualty.

If a general election is largely about managing an economy, a referendum is often about managing an idealised version of ourselves.

Thus, last year's gay marriage referendum was never just about a minority issue, it was also about how we wanted to both see ourselves and be seen by others.

And so it is for voters in the UK and, crucially for us, Northern Ireland. We've all seen the economic forecasts for a Brexit and they're not good. But this week's news that more than 300,000 EU citizens migrated to Britain last year is manna from heaven for Boris Johnson and his argument.

As both sides invoke their own version of Project Fear, we're told that a Brexit would lead to an economic wasteland populated by starving urchins and giant rats (yes, that was one of the more flamboyant claims from the Remain side).

The pro-Brexit side, on the other hand, argue that a vote to stay would lead to an... economic wasteland populated by starving urchins and giant rats. But they'd be foreign rats.

This is one of those rare times when I almost feel sorry for all economists and financial experts who have been patiently trying to explain the ramifications of a yay or a nay.

That's because, ultimately, people don't really care that much about the economy; certainly not enough to read a 1,000 page report on the implications for Foreign Direct Investment, for example.

People are more interested in the tangible, those things they can see and experience for themselves without being plámásed by one side or the other.

But it's also a vote about who you most despise. Neither side will be voting for a positive reason, but will, instead, be casting their ballot primarily to stick it to their ideological opponents.

Let's face it, few voters are going to be really swayed by politicians because this is one campaign which will be won with the heart as much as the head. Voting about your borders, what this campaign is really all about, leaves little room for nuance. From our point of view, a vote to leave would be potentially disastrous, for a host of obvious reasons and some not so obvious.

Apart from the fact we're a small economy which will inevitably suffer from the red tape and bureaucratic paperwork the new arrangement would involve, it also opens us up to more unwelcome immigration, as we would then become the only border touching UK soil. Before people start to sharpen their pitchforks, let me stress, once more, that I've always been staunchly pro-immigration. But it's suicidal to paint anyone with concerns about inward migration as simply another bigot.

It's that kind of Guardian-led narrative which demonises ordinary people which might yet swing the campaign the Brexit way.

That's bad for us. But I can't say I blame them.

Israel's worst country in the world, say conspiracists

Europe has become a cold place for both  Israel and those Jews who still live in our rapidly declining  continent

I know an Irish doctor who has become a successful surgeon in Israel. We agree on some issues and disagree on others but I'm in no doubt that he takes his Hippocratic oath as seriously as he takes his Israeli citizenship.

He has operated on Palestinian and Israeli alike and I'll always remember his tale of a young Palestinian who was shunned by her family for being treated by a Jew.

But it would appear that my dedicated doctor friend is actually part of a vast Zionist conspiracy to experiment on Arabs.

This week saw the annual assembly of the World Health Organisation and they had one thing on their mind - Israel.

Voting to uphold a joint Palestinian and Syrian motion to condemn Israel as the 'world's No 1 human rights violator', the WHO motion is the latest attack on the only democracy in the region and the only piece of real estate that hasn't been turned into a charnel house.

The EU supported the motion (out of 29 separate items to be discussed, Israel was the only country condemned by name) and that should come as no surprise - Europe has become a cold place for both Israel and those Jews who still live in our rapidly declining continent.

But surely the best bit of the whole pathetic charade was the allegation, made by the Syrian delegation, that Israel is prone to "experiment on Syrian and Arab prisoners with medicines and drugs and to inject them with pathogenic viruses".

Funny enough, Israel is treating more Syrians in its hospitals than any other country in the area. I suppose they need lots of test subjects for their evil experiments.

My God, it's all beginning to make sense!


Here’s something you don’t hear every day — your feelings don’t matter. Here’s something else you can have for free — nobody cares about your emotional well-being. That’s your burden, not ours.

I was reminded of that sentiment yesterday with the release of yet another survey which shows that the most prolific abusers of women online are... other women.

This issue is linked to our obsession with the self and how it’s creating a society of emotionally incontinent snow flakes who have a panic attack whenever someone is less than complimentary to them.

You have no right to not be criticised for your views and when you are criticised — because you will be, of that there’s no doubt — you either take it on the chin, block the person or simply ignore them. If you choose, you can even have a pop back at them.

At some point in the last few years, victimhood became its own virtue and it’s crippling our culture. Ironically, you’ll be happier when you develop a thicker skin and stop obsessing about perceived slights so maybe it’s time for a change of tack — you’re not special, your self-esteem is not the most important thing in the world and nobody likes a whinger.

I am available as a therapist for very unreasonable rates, by the way.

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