Why bother to vote?

My last post focused on which way to vote in the EU referendum. But there’s another concern, another issue – apathy. Why bother to vote? Could be indifference, or ‘a plague on all your houses’.

So – why vote?

There’s much wrong with the EU, much that needs reform, but what we do have is on the one hand a remarkable trading bloc, an open market which in all previous ages would have been inconceivable.

(By way of contrast, there’s a hard left faction in the National Union of Teachers which views the EU as part of vast capitalist conspiracy: for them the plague is all-encompassing and they’re voting to leave.)

And on the other we have a common European mentality, a sense of a common European heritage. It’s not just a British heritage but a European heritage that we – as seen by non-Europeans – present to the world.

Is that a small achievement?

We have 28 countries all working together, with many a disharmony – as you’d expect – but still working together. I think it’s remarkable. Don’t take it for granted. It didn’t just happen.

One market with its four freedoms – free movement of goods, capital, services and people – requires the same trading conditions, across the continent, and agreement has not been easily negotiated or easily won. Europe – the EU – is unique in world history – nations finding a remarkable level of common ground, and working together, and presenting one face to the world – not just a trading bloc but an exemplar to the world of cooperation, decency and integrity – a collective advocate of social justice and equal rights – a model for the world of how a continent can put past enmities behind it.

I hope and pray we don’t have the too-easy cop-out of a ‘plague on all your houses’ influencing the vote on 23rd June. Yes, there’s much wrong with Europe, with the EU. But we should be working to put it right, to make it function in the interest of all Europeans.

By that I mean public servants, children, teachers, private sector employers and employees, professionals, artists, musicians, charity workers, the retired, the unemployed, the disadvantaged, immigrants – and those who feel their lives are threatened by immigration.

All Europeans – anything less than that and we will continue with the same problems, the same tensions we have now.