BY CONNOR GORDON
Another year, another referendum. It seems like every six months we Scots happen to be in a polling station voting on something. As a political geek, there’s nothing better than using the democratic privilege our forefathers handed down to us and crossing that X next to an option or candidate. This referendum on June 23 sees the entire United Kingdom go to the booths to decide on its membership of the European Union.
The infamous leave figure Nigel Farage admits that the debate is not being had in Scotland, and to a certain extent the UKIP leader is correct. However, after our own referendum on independence, the people of this country are more politically motivated than ever. Recent polling shows a strong support for the EU in Scotland with one by Channel 4 showing 74% support staying in the European Union.
Personally, I am neutral on the whole subject – and not just because I am a student journalist. I don’t think that the regular punter, like myself, knows too much about the European Union, what it does, and all the financial and social aspects to the whole topic. Before last summer, I could only tell you a few choice things about the EU and nothing more. However, after it was a major part of my Public Affairs course in college, and after several months of studying, I can say I’m content enough with what I know now on the subject.
A lot of the politicians on both sides like to play on that, especially those who support leaving and the argument about the European Court of Human Rights, which will not be effected by whatever decision the UK decides on voting day on June 19.
There is also a strong argument about democracy and how undemocratic the EU is. A lot of its bodies are unelected and this is a very strong argument for the leave side. However, at the same time, there are elements of that side of the campaign who ignore democracy arguments closer to home in terms of the House of Lords and the monarchy.
In my opinion, the main argument driving this referendum is immigration. I am a very pro-immigration person and am in complete support of the free movement of people in European Union countries.
As someone who aspires to work abroad in future, the current EU way of immigration among member states would certainly appeal to me in a selfish way. However, we also have to think about the millions of Brits living and working abroad, some of which are retired. I don’t think this has been spoken about, what will happen to these people? But I expect this will be raised close to the voting date.
The many campaigns fighting both corners is also something to look at. People I have spoken to thus far say that the campaigns for both sides has been a bit tedious, and I would have to agree with them. It is noticeable that on the leave side, Grassroots Out (GO), led by Farage and includes his UKIP colleagues have seen the success of grassroots campaigns in the Scottish referendum and have taken to replicate that in this debate. However, it is not GO I have noticed out in the streets of Glasgow for the leave side, instead it has been Vote Leave, a multi-party organization. I’ve yet to see remain campaigners – are they that confident of victory?
What is for sure is that there is a lot of politicking and debates to come in the pretty near future. Once the Scottish elections are out of the way I expect the debate in Scotland will really be sparked. If polls are to be believed then the leave campaigns have a major task on their hands. Scotland’s fisheries will be a major talking point and may be a key game changer should a majority of them come out in support for leave. All bar one of Scotland’s parliamentary leaders are in support for remaining, so it will be interesting to see some cohesion among politicians who are rivals inside Holyrood.