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8:38am on Thursday, 23rd June, 2016:



Well I've voted in the referendum. No, I'm not saying which way, as if I did it would annoy the people who wanted me to vote the other way. I will, however, say that I didn't make my mind up until last night. Even that's going to irritate some people, who won't understand why I wasn't fully behind what (to them) is obviously the right position.

The reason I was undecided was that I never heard anyone talk about the long-term future of the EU. Almost everything was about the short-term effect of voting one way or the other on the UK, with occasional overblown statements about the medium-term effects. I didn't see any debate about what the organisation we're voting to remain in or to leave would be like 20, 30, 40 years from now. All the politicians were clear that this was a vote for our children and grandchildren, but then harped on about how it would affect things tomorrow or next year. Even the large, international bodies did this: yes, IMF, I can see for myself that a vote for leave would lead to immediate uncertainty in the financial markets, but why should that affect my view of what the world will look like in 2040 or 2050? Shouldn't you have been explaining why it was necessary for you and the EU to gang up on Greece and condemn its people to decades of penury? That's more of a long-term thing.

This is a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't referendum. Whatever we vote, it'll be wrong. Thanks to having been subjected to relentless streams of myopic propaganda from both sides, I can give strong arguments against either of them. They've both been their own worst enemies.

The right time for a referendum would have been when the Eurozone decides to federalise (assuming that the wheels don't fall off it before it gets to that stage). This is a debate we should have been having 10 or 20 years from now — and if the remain side wins, will indeed probably have again 10 or 20 years from now anyway. The only reason we're having to vote on it today is so that the current Prime Minister could arrange for himself an extra few years in office by fobbing off his eurosceptic back-benchers.

I do have one positive thing to say about the referendum, though: this is the first occasion I've ever voted for which I feel my vote will not only be counted, but will count.

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Copyright © 2016 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).