Jonathan Chatfield recently received the following email from a highly educated and respected member of the party setting out his reasons why he is voting Remain in the EU Referendum.
Such personal stories, not politicians claims, provide a solid foundation for all of us to vote Remain.
1. I want us to work towards a world where people live in harmony as much as possible. During the Cold War of the 1960s, I helped to create some exchanges between young people across the Iron Curtain, at least one of whom was deeply influenced by his visit and later became influential in his country. Also since 1980 I have been a leader among scientists in my particular research field to build cooperation across Europe which has made Europe the leading area in the world for this field. Peace and cooperation are worthwhile.
2. I am under no illusion how difficult building cooperation can be. Even among scientists who have travelled the world, nationalism can break out all over them like boils(!) over issues of national prestige, national tradition and money. But I have seen that cooperation can be built, to everyone's benefit, e.g. in my particular field of science as mentioned above.
3. I regret that the referendum debate has had almost entirely a short term focus. My two grand-daughters are of university age and so can be expected to live until maybe the end of this century or near it. That is my time horizon. I want to bequeath to them a positive cohesive world, with Britain benefiting from playing an active international role within it. Already 'Generation Y' is the first generation whose life is more difficult than that of its parents.
4. I do not believe Europe is on the verge of WW3: the next disintegration will be different. The point is that the world is generating problems faster than it is solving them, and we will need every ounce of cohesion in Europe and in the world to solve them together. For example we are faced already with a migration problem. Now fast-forward to the time when the rising sea level from climate change puts the whole of Calcutta and elsewhere under water. We don't know just when it will become so drastic, but the rising sea level can already be seen now in the increasing number of times that the Thames barage has to be raised. Growing instabilities in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets mean alot could happen already this century. Also the extra billions of world population will probably generate another crisis: again we do not know how many extra billion except it will be at least 'some'.
5. I have my own personal rage against the European Commission, but it has become clear to me in discussion with people in its science Directorate that they are not oriented to the real needs of scientists as much as towards the whims of the politicians who pay their salaries and who in the European Commission of national Prime Ministers govern them. However sometimes the two needs can come together, and I am pleased with the progress that has been made in that direction. Some recent research funding seems to have been very well directed towards important scientific goals with likely technological spin-off. Yes, the whole EU setup needs to change, including a much greater role for Euro-MPs, but blame the bosses - the Council of Ministers - not the officials.
6. At a recent panel discussion among economists, I was interested in examples of what alot we have in fact to thank the EU for. One case was that for years and years people in Britain bemoaned the pollution of our rivers and waterways, but no government *did* anything about it. But then through the push of the combined EU it came about at last. This was not an isolated example. Speakers again and again came back to the way the national political cohesion has been shattered: note Trump in USA, Marie Le Pen in France, UKIP and leadership change in the Labour party here, some very nationalistic governments in Eastern Europe, etc.. As a result, there is often not the confidence in Governments to take effective leadership, and sometimes the EU has. The point is that any change upsets someone, and it is convenient for national politicians to let the EU take the blame!
7. An important issue is the European trade agreement TTIP being secretly negotiated with USA. I am in favour of trade agreement and trade standardisation -- maybe irksome to small purely local businesses, but much better than trade war. However I find the proposed clause allowing foreign businesses to sue and override national governments totally unacceptable. Only Europe has the economic strength to stand up to the bullying of USA big business in this matter. Incidentally, it seems to me ludicrous for the OUT campaign to say that Britain alone can get a better deal than Europe can! What planet are they living on?
8. If I were a Scot living in Scotland, and if the UK votes to withdraw from the EU, then I would probably support Scotland choosing the EU rather than the UK for its long term future. And Northern Ireland has benefited greatly from the EU: is it conceivable that the Peace Process in Ireland will develop far enough for Northern Ireland to want to join the Republic rather than re-instate the border between them?
9. Some of the arguments of the OUT campaign are so simplistic that intelligent people who peddle them must just be dishonest. For example there are housing needs with net immigration, and as a New Zealander I am very aware how grossly crowded this island is: once there were miles and miles of forest. But when one flies over Britain, as I once did from Cambridge to Manchester, one notices how successful the Green Belt policy has been: from the air Britain looks like a huge green park with occasional little urban patches. Moreover with so many unemployed people, there is no insuperable problem about building more houses. I grew up during World War 2, and I know that building some more houses and other infrastructure is completely achievable when there is the will. And so on.
In conclusion, I see a strong case for remaining IN the European Union.
Britain, Europe and the world will need every bit of cohesion and cooperation to cope with future strains already on the horizon. Anyway, there are a wonderful lot of people on the continent.