Published 4 April 2016
Swingers determine elections. We’re talking the undecided voter, versus the Ashley Madisonites by the way.
And d’you know what? I’m proud to say I’ve never swung. I’ve never had the thrill of cheating on my party. I’ve never rocked up to a small, dark booth – butterflies a-fluttering – preparing to throw my lot in with an unknown …
Because nine times out of ten, I know exactly which box I’ll mark, I’m rather a predictable political animal. Voter-behaviour models carved out in the 1960s and 70s described how life-experience and inherent values define a person’s natural political leaning – and this becomes the lens through which that person filters the day’s salient political issues.
I was once so textbook (well other than one mistaken one week flirtation with the Liberals when I was 15, which I’d rather consign to the idiocy of youth)
But then Brexit came along. And on June 23, I can honestly say I haven’t a scooby-doo where I’ll make my mark.
I’ve been having recurring dreams where Jeremy Vine fires up his Brexit night swingometer – and I’m panicked and alone in nomansland; flanked by virtual crowds of judgemental innies and outies.
Because no speech, paper or forecast has yet been the smoking gun that’s tipped me to IN or OUT. Every case study I read is laced with agenda, and any neutral whitepapers are washed of their independence as soon as the party machines hit the spin cycle.
I have Scottish friends who said the same ahead of the Independence Referendum in 2014 – the figures, both pro and no, were so fudged and skewed and politicised that stone cold facts were hard to find.
So with the absence of meaty truth, my Brexit diet is based on perception… And I perceive that Norway excels outside of the EU – it can easily be done…. I perceive a single currency and collective economy that’s incredibly unstable…. I perceive a Continent that would never risk writing us out of their economic – or defence – plans and programmes even if we did leave…
I also perceive a cabal of countries that – on a social level – seriously dislike the UK. There’s plenty of hard-line evidence to support this claim, but I say only this: Eurovision. We could put Adele up on stage and she’d still come home with nil pois.
My perceptions mostly point at OUT. But like a typical swinger, I’m lacking commitment; I’m seduceable. So, I’m game for experiment. But before I do, best I lay down some boundaries.
The safety word is banana.
I have fiscal objections to the EU. I see that the UK pays billions into the EU and doesn’t get true value out. I see that our wants, values and autonomy are compromised – and in return we get legislative waste and the promise of jam tomorrow … once this fangled collective gets its act together.
On that, I see that the EU is still young. Maybe these are the stroppy teenage years we just have to brave, in the hope it’ll straighten out into a high-functioning adult. Perhaps the EU’s regulations – which blight domestic industries, including our heavyweight finance system – are a necessary evil that help keep our City from coagulating into an omnishocking American-style market. A little more on our transatlantic cousins in a sec.
But at a heart versus head level, isn’t it better evolving imperfectly as a collective as opposed to chasing perfection-in-isolation?
I can hear the whimpering. Many in the OUT camp see the EU as collectivism gone mad, with labyrinthine red tape coating everything the UK never signed up to. Moreover, if it’s collectivism we seek, OUTers see the UK as more naturally aligned with the US – and the yanks aren’t about limiting our autonomy or self-governance.
Sure, before Obama was sticking it to Cameron and his war-opportunism, there was some sort of “special relationship” there. In fragile times, the US knows it always has a friend in the UK – and the feeling’s more or less mutual (though if only we could have a real Love Actually moment to make them think). Back to perception here – I did see we’re nearing a cultural capital norm that’s more akin to the good old US of A. But then have you seen the front-runners the other side of the pond? I mean really? Would you vote for either of them?
Indeed. So, let’s look at Brexit as a snapshot of time. There’s 80-odd days to go until we vote here in the UK. But 120-odd days after that it’s America’s turn to mark their ballots – and their election could Trump ours with devastating consequences.
So to me the choice seems to be jumping out of our marital bed in Europe and either swapping it for a century of socio-political ****wittery, or hopping into the sack with some nutty, unpredictable blonde…
Banana. With three months to go, this girl’s still for turning.