We Are Family – or not? A song on Brexit

Should I stay or should I go? That’s the question Britain is asking itself tomorrow – also Scotland, naturally, as a part of the union. Starting this wee comment with a song, I’d go on with more music in order to discuss the referendum’s spirit: Is the European Union a gain or a wreck?

Actually I’m a bit astonished that Great Britain from all countries in Europe asks this question. As it was so Happy Together two years ago when Scotland said I Want to Break Free. Well, 45 percent of Scotland anyway and too little therefore, so, as we all know, Bonnie Scotland stayed part of the union. The same union that doubts the advantages of its big brother Europe now. Och aye.

So what are these advantages actually? Let’s have a look at two very trivial examples. Do you have children? Do they love to play with their Barbie Girl? Cute blonde (too thin and too busty, in my honest opinion) dolls Barbie style and their athletic beach boys (WTF are those kids playing with them btw?) could be a threat to your offspring – if they’d play with cheap Asian rip-offs made of cheap toxic materials. But they don’t, and it’s not particularly your credit, but the EU’s one which banned them. This, again, forces Asian doll factories to rethink. A huge trading partner like the EU with almost 750 million citizens is a customer everyone says to: Don’t Wanna Lose You. UK, on the other hand, with little more than 64 million citizens… Well… If it was only about what they think, and all the 686 million others would crave for the opposite… Guess who’d win!

Another one? Hm. There’s oil in the Pipeline, right? Not the Scottish ones, we forget about them for a moment as – Do You Remember? – wise scientists said during the indyref campaigns and even now that the Scottish oil isn’t sufficient anyway. No, the Russian ones. Bringing Fuel to the stations everywhere. But wait, between Great Britian and Russia are what? At least half a dozens countries on the map. All of them EU members. So it’s rather unlikely that they say „oh, sure, you can have the oil for the same price, using our pipelines, although you don’t pay for them or anything really any more“ if UK said Bye Bye Love. Right? Fuel prices would rise in UK in that case, says my logic. And if you have a look here, there are much wiser people than me foretelling much worse things even.

And The Other Side? Checking my crystal ball, it shows hatred, anger, fear. Anger that every EU citizen has to pay his or her emergency contribution for Greece’s Empty Pockets and so on. We weren’t raging on the bank crash, on the other hand. Why not? Because it was about white collars and so-called uninfluenceable coincidences? Anyway, there’s this annoyance: paying for others. Even more as the refugees who are mainly in different countries and not particularly in Great Britian also cost money. Right, refugees. That’s a huge topic for the Let Me Leave lovers. Many don’t want them in Europe, let alone in their neighbourhood. But how is that an argument to leave the EU? I don’t really get it. While in Germany, for example, there are refugee camps everywhere and the actual numbers count 1,2 million (in digits: 1.200.000) people (until now! still more coming!), PM David Cameron was as gracious as promising to accept 20.000 over five years. So UK isn’t taking much weight on its shoulder anyway. Is 20.000 still too much and a reason to bugger off Against All Odds?

What are the arguments of the Leave-side? I don’t know. You don’t know. Because we all haven’t heard and read many arguments. Oh right, Money Money Money. But how would it be an advantage to negotiate own trading deals with Asia, for example, when the highest amount of all UK exports go to Europe? I won’t collect more arguments here, my fellow journalists from the Telegraph have written quite a nice overview here. And you, dear reader, have understood by now that my whole view is a wee bit sarcastic. Maybe I’m Sick of It All. Hatred, anger, but also empty promises and polite hushing up of serious imbalances. Maybe I just want you to think. Of what might change for us all if you, dear Brits, overstep the Point of No Return. A union, and that’s your view from two years ago if I remember correctly, is like a marriage: Not easy, with ups and downs, but We Are Family. Or not?

Fracking and other stumbling blocks

UK’s on the hustings. So Scotland as well, of course. The 55th General Election is scheduled for the coming May 7th, 98 days to go therefore. The critical phase of 100 days started past Monday. And in Scotland – or UK, that is – it’s not so very different from Germany: Parties and their leaders would proverbially sell their grans for more votes. Everyone tries to hit the taste of their target group and beyond. Just natural. That’s how campaigns work. I’ll have a closer look at the rhetorical methods used another day, that’s too interesting a topic to just rushing over. Because it’s obvious that badmouthing the opposition plays a bigger part than it would do in Germany.

Today, let’s check out the main topics first. At first glance, it’s much less emotional than the referendum campaigns were, hard facts and disputatious topics are in the foreground. But that’s emotional too, after all. Some of the most discussed are: immigration, austerity (or let’s call it economy, that’s less polemical), NHS/health, Europe and fracking.

The last is a funny thing in an odd way, because everyone tries to use it for their own arguments, and everyone’s right, partly anyway. The Greens and left wing parties or at least parts of them are against fracking, of course, and emphasize how risky that kind of intervention is or can be as it’s not foretellable what it might cause referring to subterranean water and soil conditions. There’s not one party that shrugs their shoulders and says “who cares”, and that’s just understandable (even if they thought “who cares”), because pretty much everyone is concerned about the future of climate and environment, and clean water is the source of all life on earth, so joking about “who cares” isn’t funny when it comes to endangering water supplies.

But water is a good key word here and for fracking supporters as well. A study (amongst others) stresses that fracking saves water, compared to other methods of winning gas and coal. So fracking can be an environmentally and even socially compatible method, on the other hand. Socially, because it’s no secret that the working conditions of miners in conventional settings aren’t the best and dangerous on top. But there’s still a “can be”, and that’s quite silent when parties speak of the fracking pros. The sticking point is the question whether or not chemicals and especially toxical chemicals are used.

Yes, there are clean fracking methods, and not just since yesterday. It’s more than three years ago that I first read about fracking without toxics and polluting chemicals here, and it’s very likely that these methods have been improved meanwhile. There’s a big “but” though. Why don’t all people buy fair trade products? Because they are more expensive. Why does the industry use cheap scents to flavour cosmetics and stuff although the number of allergy sufferers grows? Because of the price. And the price is the crucial point as well when it comes to clean versus conventional fracking. The profit margin is bigger when cheaper materials are used and the maximum is won. And chemicals are cheaper – or aren’t they? This article, just a month old, argues for a cheaper and cleaner fracking with plasma. But if something is new, we don’t know anything about possible long-term damages.

And back we are to the Greens’ arguments against fracking. So effectively, both sides have their points. It’s a pity that both sides reduce their own reliability by keeping quiet about the refutations. If fracking supporters said “yes, it can be a damage to our environment, but there are methods to avoid this, and think about how important it is to be self-sufficient in turbulent times like ours” or if the fracking detractors said “yes, we do need gas, and it’s important to be self-sufficient, but how can we make sure that only clean methods will be used in our country and what they will do to our environment, so think about our children’s future first and forget about the profit”, I’m convinced it would be much more effective than the usual “fracking is bad” versus “we need fracking”. People need explanations, they are no experts, and they believe in explanations more than they believe in claims. So let’s keep an eye out for reliable explanations henceforth.

©Maria Pakura