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Ceasefire Please!

Too often I have been surprised at how many of us Brits know almost nothing about our representatives in Europe. We have spent decades complaining about the EU and the raw deal that we believe we get from it. And yet we do not even know who is representing us there. In contrast, most people in France and Germany know know who their MEPs are and hold them in high esteem. 

Over the past ten days, I have conducted a mini online survey to find out if anyone does know who their MEP is. With only forty respondents, the results cannot be claimed as conclusive evidence. However, they do indicate an alarming lack of knowledge about our MEPs. The vast majority of respondents do not know the name of their MEP and two-thirds do not know which political party their MEP belongs to. Only 55% voted in the last elections for the European Parliament and three-quarters do not know when the next election takes place. You can view the survey results at http://bakehousecottage.com/survey-results.  

We are now on a roll to the EU referendum, an event which will be a crucial determinant of the future of the UK, and quite possibly a determinant in the endurance of the United Kingdom in its current united form.

The EU debate is rapidly turning into a civil war on social media. The weapons are words and the language is fear. Both sides are equally culpable of scaremongering. Yet, one might ask what the alternative strategy might be when the debate is underpinned by a fundamental problem that confounds both sides: our inability to see into the future. There is no way of possessing true knowledge of what the precise outcome would be whether we stayed in the EU or left it. All that can be done is to make predictions based on deduction and guesswork. 

My personal view is that a more accurate deduction can be made from a known situation than an unknown one. It therefore follows that as we are currently in the EU, we can predict more accurately what the future position might look like inside the EU than outside of it. Furthermore, it takes no more than a cursory glance back at social and political history to confirm that good relations are rare following the termination of agreements, be they between individuals or groups or nations. 

When evidence is lacking, emotion tends to take over. We cannot have evidence of the future because evidence only exists after the event: evidence is a product of past; the residue of the past that has survived into the present. So, with regard to the future, dispossessed of evidence we resort to emotion. When it comes to the future of our nation, by far the strongest emotion that we have at our disposal is fear. And thus we appear to have turned into something like terrified parents screaming "you will be killed if you cross that road" at a small child. 

For far too long we have grumbled about the EU without bothering to keep ourselves informed or take any real interest in our representatives. We can't turn back the clock but we can change our behaviour and our attitudes towards the future - our future as individuals and as a nation. We need to slow up, calm down, and apply ourselves to careful and thorough consideration of the information that does exist. And we need to make a monumental effort to stop scaremongering. 

Please can we have a ceasefire in the civil war on social media?  

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