I’m the first to admit that my political knowledge is pretty weak, but as the EU referendum approaches, I’ve been finding myself feeling quite sad about how much negativity the issue is raising and so I felt the need to write down a few of the specific issues that have been bothering me. I don’t want to ramble on too much, and whilst I have been doing a fair bit of reading up on things, I’m aware that I don’t understand a lot of things in enough depth to get into a big debate, so I’ll keep this brief and bullet-pointy.
- It’s nigh on impossible to disentangle the facts from the lies relating to the pros and cons of leaving and staying, possibly because both leaving and exiting result in some many uncertainties. As someone who ‘does’ statistics, one of the most important things we get taught is to always look at the uncertainty in your estimates. I think I’d respect politicians more if they said “we don’t know” rather than making stuff up.
- Newspapers all have their own agendas and biases too. Just because something’s written on the front page of a newspaper, or someone has taken to the time to write some words on an evocative photo and share it on Facebook doesn’t make it true! Question these ‘facts’ rather than accepting them at face value.
- We’re being asked to make a binary decision about something that the majority of us know next to nothing about. We can try to educate ourselves along the way (I’d recommend the BBC for at least trying to be impartial and presenting both sides of the argument), we’re not being guided into making a rational choice – we’re being forced into making an emotional one. This really hasn’t brought out the best in people.
- Given the confusing and contradictory information we’re given by politicians and the media we should try to be guided by those more knowledgeable on these issues than we are who are without a (hidden) agenda. Politicians are trying to win supporters and gain power, journalists are trying to sell newspapers. So instead, I look to the economists, I look to the scientists, I look to the highly successful business people. Whilst we’re all guilty of cherry picking and seeking those who share our own preconceptions on the issue, from what I can see the majority suggest we’re better off in. This Wikipedia list of endorsement for both sides is pretty revealing – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endorsements_in_the_United_Kingdom_European_Union_membership_referendum,_2016
That’s all I have to say really. As I say, I’m no expert and I’m not trying to push my voting preferences on others (I’m voting to stay in by the way), I just hope people can take a rational, balanced approach to making their decisions rather than get distracted by all the fear and anger that’s going around.