WTAF is the EU even good for?

What does the EU actually do that is good for Britain?

I’m going to try and achieve in one post what the UK government failed to do with a £3M website – to try and explain why the EU is good for the UK and why Britain should stay in the EU.

The main points everyone seems to argue about are the economy (OMG, we pay them soooo much money and we get nothing for it!!!) and immigration (all those bloody immigrants stealing our jobs AND claiming benefits!!!!) – but there are some more points that are very important as well (in my opinion anyway) so I’ve listed them all out.

If you can’t be bothered to read the whole thing, here is a quick summary:

The EU saves the UK shitloads of money.

The EU also makes the UK shitloads of money.

THE EU makes the UK safer.

The EU makes sure that you have paid annual leave.

The EU is not the one fucking with the NHS – that’s the Tories.

The EU immigrants are not the ones claiming benefits – that’s mostly the lazy-arse British chavs. AND there are just as many British people claiming benefits in other EU countries – say whaaaattt??

What do they even do all day taking all our money and doing nothing?!?! They make laws, agreements, negotiate terms and rights. They do all the same things that the UK parliament does but on a much bigger scale and level covering 28 countries rather than just one.

And here’s the whole thing:

Economy – Trade & Investment

  • the EU in 2014 accounted for 44.6% of UK exports of goods and services, and 53.2% of UK imports of goods and services
  • In terms of overseas investment into the UK, the proportion of assets held in the UK by EU residents and businesses stands at 46.4% in 2013
  • Free Trade Agreements – the UK benefits from the EU by not only being able to trade with EU members freely but also with non-EU states that the EU has FTAs with (currently applied in 32 states worldwide and initialled in a further 19)

Surely the UK can leave the EU and then go sign FTAs with a lot of other countries to make for any losses? Apparently not easy at all, each one would need to be individually negotiated and the UK as a single country would have little negotiating power – and even if that did happen, it would take serious scraping to make up for losses – the USA only makes up 8.5% of the UK’s trade for example and EU rules don’t cause big hurdles for the British economy anyway which might restrict British exports to countries outside Europe, so ‘Brexit’ would not be the economic liberation people claim it would be. Do it like Norway!! Uhm yeah, Norway has to spend a lot of moolah to be part of the FTA and still needs to comply with all the required regulations (and because it’s not a member it can’t influence any regulations – such a good deal right?!). Norway also had a lot of oil which made them a bit over-confident…and now they’re quite fucked actually.

The UK has also been making some very poor investment choices – between 2010 and 2013, the UK’s net position with the EU fell from a surplus of £185.9 billion in 2010 to a deficit of £5.1 billion in 2013, and from a surplus of £134.6 billion to a surplus £64.7 billion with non-EU countries.  So yeah, the UK is facing an asset deficit with the EU – but from what I’ve been able to understand this is the result of poor investment by the UK rather than the result of anything the EU has “forced” the UK to do as it’s the same trend/ result with the UK’s non-EU investments.

Economy – Jobs & Benefits

  • 3.5 million UK jobs are linked to the EU

Yes, they are linked to export and trade (44.6% of the UK’s export trade is to the EU) and not to a political union – but as per the previous point the export & trade benefits are linked to the political union. So will these jobs suddenly disappear overnight, will everyone lose their jobs? No, that’s not likely but restrictions on free trade will have a big impact on efficiency, ease, restrictions, quotas and cost of exporting – which can result in job cuts.

  • The BLOODY immigrants – all those East Europeans are stealing the jobs of low-skilled British people and driving down wages right?

There is no actual proof of this that I was able to find anywhere on the internet and I like to think I’m good at finding stuff on the internet. So if anyone has actual facts and stats that can prove this – please do share. Actually, it seems like EU immigration is good for the public finances, as the EU immigrants are legit and working legally and pay more in taxes than they receive in public spending. These economic immigrants are mostly young and here for work – they cost less in healthcare and pay taxes – and no they’re not claiming benefits because they’re busy stealing jobs instead. Also – 1.8 Million British people live in other EU states and they are mostly retirees that do cost a lot in healthcare – Spain and France are the main ones getting hit by this. Also – every EU member state can invoice other states for this cost of healthcare for their citizens – the UK has repeatedly failed to do this. There is one seriously incompetent team at HMRC losing the UK money it could be claiming.

Human/ Worker’s Rights

  • European Labour Law (including the Parental Leave Directive) – the EU requires its member states to adhere by the guidelines laid out in the European Labour Law which enforces things like equality at work, child care support, sane working hours, health & safety, pensions and paid annual leave. This was laid out in 1989 as “Fundamental Social Rights of Workers” and adopted and applied by all member states – EXCEPT the UK under Margaret Thatcher (**hahahahaha**)

This is one of those awful “regulations from Brussels” that is crippling British “democracy” you see. Because who wants paid annual leave & maternity leave anyway? People argue that this is nothing EU-related and that leaving the EU would totally still mean that worker’s rights would apply – are we really that sure? Maggie Thatcher didn’t want them in 89…tssk tssk, those pesky Tories.

Europol/ Police

  • the European Joint Police Force is one of the things that the EU does that no one talks about enough – police and intelligence from all member states work together to apprehend criminals across borders in each other’s jurisdiction thanks to the European Arrest Warrant.

Why would anyone not want this? Ooohh, “police state”? Bit rich coming from the country of CCTV…

Immigration/ Refugees

  • the UK is not a member of Schengen
  • the refugee crisis is not caused by EU immigrants
  • the refugees are not coming from the EU
  • the flow of refugees is not uncontrolled or unlimited (yes it may seem uncontrolled – but there’s a reason some of them are stuck in Calais and not flooding the streets of Slough)

One of the best things about the EU is the Schengen agreement – and the UK is not part of it. The Schengen agreement is what allows you go get on a train in Amsterdam and get off in Paris without having your passports screened at the Dutch border, the Belgian border and the French border. But the UK is not part of this – this is why you still have to queue for a million hours at the UK border when you fly back from Paris or Barcelona or Berlin.

I also absolutely do not understand how anyone with even half a brain cell can blame the EU for the refugee crisis? The refugees are not coming from the EU. And people also really NEED to understand the difference between economic migrants and refugees.

Refugee: in fear of death, running away in fear, running away from war and murder and torture – at the moment mostly from Syria but also Afghanistan and Somalia. No parent gets on an inflatable dingy in the middle of the night to cross an entire sea with their little children/ babies at risk of death if they had any other choice.

Economic migrant: looking for a job, usually from a country where there are no jobs and no money so they go somewhere else to work – they are not claiming benefits, they’re working – at the moment mostly from Poland and Romania.

The existence of the EU makes it possible to “spread” the refugees – imagine how fucked Greece would be otherwise? AND most of these refugees don’t even want to come to the UK, they’re all headed for Sweden and Germany anyway (hit me up if you want my stats on that – I can give you the uncut extra long edition)? So exactly how, where and why is the EU causing the UK’s *non-existant* refugee problems?

Regulations

  • in the past 12 months only 4 out of 121 bills that were passed into law by the British parliament were related to EU regulations and directives

All these cries about how the UK isn’t “free” or “democratic” anymore and we are now being “ruled by Brussels” is such a pack of lies – the UK very much still makes its own laws and rules and decisions, in the past year only 4 bills were affected by Brussels. Also – what do people think are in these directives from Brussels? It’s worker’s rights, trade agreements, security agreements – all good things that we should want (unless if you’re a Tory maybe).

  • Norway is not a member of the EU – but it has to pay a hefty price to be part of the FTA and it also needs to comply with and abide by the EU regulations on all product and services
  • Democratic deficit of the EU? A lot of people argue that the EU is not democratic because “we’re now being governed by Brussels that we didn’t vote for”. This is incorrect, you actually totally do vote for them – the members of the European Parliament are voted for by the citizens of the EU. The European Commission in turn are chosen/ nominated by the European Parliament. The same way you would vote for a party who then nominate the leader.

So, hopefully I’ve been able to address some of the main issues at hand – there’s a million more points you could comb through for days. I’m also not a lawyer or an economist or a politician, I’m just a normal person who is just sick and tired of all the lies being spread about how the EU is apparently a bad thing.

That time a white person dared write about Congo…

Twitter is just such a tricky place isn’t it? It can be a wonderful place that brings out the best in people on the other hand it sometimes brings out the worst in people and really makes me lose all faith in the human race. Most of this loss of faith was induced by a pair of sneakers mind you.

Last week I noticed a thread that just made me sad. It didn’t make me angry, it just made me sad. And I’m going to write this on my blog eventhough I already know that a LOT of people are going to disagree and take offence and think I should shut up about this, but hey, it’s my personal blog and I’m just thinking out loud meaning no disrespect to anyone. I just write about anything that is on my mind – fortunately I work in fashion (despite having studied political science) and most of the time I stay out of heated subjects and just get to be that-ditsy-fashion-girl that writes about highly intellectual topics like glitter, unicorns, nail polish and shoes. Ha!

Owen Jones had written a piece about the Forgotten/ Profitable war in the DR of Congo and he seemed to be getting SO much stick for it on Twitter from people of colour who took offence to the fact that here was a good-white-man seemingly of the gluten-free-guardianista-armchair-liberal brigade who DARED to write something pro-Congo drawing much needed attention to a war that has been raging for almost 20 years and everyone else has chosen to be bored of.

Yes, in an ideal world we would have a Congolese person writing this piece.

Yes, in an ideal world the Storyville “India’s Daughter” documentary (that aired last night) would have been made by an Indian person.

Yes, in an ideal world there would be a much larger and more open space for writers of colour to be able to express themselves and have an equally large and broad audience giving them all the respect and attention they so rightly deserve as this Good-White-Man-wringing-his-hands-at-the-Guardian receives.

Yes, in my ideal world the Daily Mail wouldn’t even exist let alone continue to spout it’s vile vitriol to millions of people that continue to pay it to do so.

Yes, this sucks balls and it’s really really shit that this isn’t already the case.

But can we just for a split second put this into perspective in the grand scheme of world history – it wasn’t all that long ago that colonialism was dismantled or slavery was abolished or Apartheid was brought down. None should have existed in the first place but they did – and considering how recently all these were considered completely normal and acceptable and how long they existed for it is my humble opinion that we have actually come a very long way very quickly over the past couple of decades as a human race. And I say this as someone who is really no fan of the human race actually.

BUT my problem with the people taking up issue with Owen on Twitter is that they seem to be slamming him for having freely chosen to write about this when he was not obliged to in any way and by doing so bringing much needed attention back to this huge issue? Why do you want to be dragging him down and not the actual narrow-minded-middle-England-knuckleheads who call my work leaving voice mails containing gems such as “you Paki yellow scum monkeys”?

Why are we spending so much time and energy on having a massive go at Owen Jones (who yes I agree can come across as an entitled-self-centered-holier-than-thou-absolute-prick a lot of the time) when we could be using this same time and energy to dismantle the likes of Nigel Farage and the UKIP? Would that not be a much better way of spending our limited time and energy – we are all only human after all and there are only 24 hours in a day?

Here comes the bit that I will probably get a LOT of hate for: I think the privileged coloured intelligentsia community – of which I do like to consider myself a member – can also be equally holier-than-thou living in their own little bubble of well-travelled, educated, liberal, forward-thinking friends, families and colleagues allowing them to take offence at Owen’s article. But God forbid we even remotely suggest that they are also in any kind of privileged position or bubble?! Do we ignore UKIP and Farage because we think they’re “beneath” us and not “intelligent enough to stand a real chance or catch on”? Uuuhhh, they are much more likely to have success getting their “message” out than anyone else who may in the meantime be perched on top of their intellectual high horse really. Let’s just give this a second to sink in….ok, yes, we can move on now I think.

Please don’t get me wrong, I genuinely believe that “the system” needs to be fought and challenged and changed. I myself am female, of mixed-race and grew up in 4 different countries and do not benefit from the colonial-old-white-man-patriarchy in any way. Please also feel free to write me off as “just a stupid girl that works in fashion, what could she possibly know?” but I think we need to open up our conversations to include everyone and that includes privileged white men and ditsy girls in fashion. Whether it is racial prejudice that we are fighting or whether it is religious discrimination or whether it is sexism and misogynism, all of these deeply entrenched awful social structures very much need to be broken down. I believe the best way to break them down and make progress is by taking little baby steps and being inclusive. Getting on our high horse to slam those who might be “on the other team” but speaking in our favour because they are not speaking as strongly as we want them to is like taking one step forward and two steps back. Let’s not cut off our noses to spite our faces (can you even say that saying in plural? I’m not sure).

There will ALWAYS be someone more privileged than you and also someone more stupid and uninformed than you, but if we are going to get on our high horse about this, we really need to focus our time and energy on overcoming the real issues and making a real change rather than patting each other on the back from telling-off-that-white-privileged-man-because-how-dare-he-write-about-Congo…believe it or not, THIS kind of petty arguing and entitled behaviour is one of the main reasons I left political science and moved into fashion…hahahaha!

Distorted

The past week seem to be some sort of bizarre test of my faith in the human race.

From sneakers to rape and murder, people just don’t make sense anymore.

The smallest and most insignificant things are being blown out of proportion and the most awful and horrific are being downplayed and made to seem insignificant when they are anything but.

We have ISIS beheading and setting innocent people on fire alive and teenagers running away from homes and schools to join them in this barbarism, we have rapists and their defence lawyers blaming their victims for their crimes, we have random knuckleheads kicking off with racist and misogynist abuse for not being able to get a pair of silly sneakers that no one will care about next week anyway. Police officers are beating unarmed homeless people to death and shooting black teenagers for wearing hoodies. Fifteen year old boys are getting stabbed as they ride their bicycles down busy main roads.

It’s all gone crazy, and not in a good way.

More and more I just wish I could withdraw myself from the general public and their distorted views on what is and isn’t acceptable and warped nonsensical idea of logic and ‘sense’. Sometimes I think all I really want is to just withdraw into a forest. I just feel like I have turned into some sort of old conservative lady who is looking at the world and shaking her head not being able to grasp what is going on and how we could let it get this far out of hand.

Is it really that hard to not be nice? Just be nice.

Try not to be a cunt.

That is really all there is to it, that is all everyone needs to do.

try not to be a cunt quote buddha