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Referendum is becoming farcical

Comment by students at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds ANL-151025-114649001
Comment by students at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds ANL-151025-114649001

I know you’re as bored of the referendum as I am. Whether that’s because of the endless torrent of pamphlets flowing through the letter-boxes of Britain, or because of the recent move away from logic to immature outbursts, it means the same.

So here’s what’s needed – another article on the EU debate. This time let’s look at the recent trivialisation of the subject.

I find that I am more interested in watching the referendum unravel now that those involved have begun to spew nonsense in their attempts to win opinion polls and votes.

This entertains us. From our vantage point – perched precariously on the margins of the debate – we are able to have a laugh at the various blunders and mishaps occurring in the capital, on both sides of the conflict.

The debate is dominated by three protagonists. The Prime Minister champions the ‘Stay’ campaign, while Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage make an unlikely alliance in the ‘Brexit’ camp.

David Cameron recently asserted that leaving the European Union could lead to World War III, a comment that underlines the extreme scare-tactics of ‘Project Fear’. If the Prime Minister genuinely worried that international conflict would follow a ‘Leave’ vote, he would not have offered the referendum in the first place. He uses the phrase ‘National Security’ with all the restraint and panache of a baby crying for milk.

Boris Johnson, one of the most highly publicised members of the ‘Leave’ campaign and the former Mayor of London, claimed that the EU’s aims mirrored those of Adolf Hitler. He suggests that a ‘superstate’ led by a powerful central government of dictatorial Belgians is just around the corner. Comparing a few thousand European bureaucrats to history’s most evil historical figure seems at the very least, eccentric: but it is Boris after all.

Nigel Farage has the strongest anti-EU record of the three, and has worked in Belgium for several years as an MEP and leader of UKIP. He furiously advocates the demolition of anything that has sprouted from Brussels, and calls it an ‘emerging, creeping Euro dictatorship’. He is sidelining the more mainstream debates over whether we will be richer or poorer, safer or in danger?

Mr Farage focuses more on immigration, and relies on a passionate mistrust of European politics to guide the ‘Leave’ vote to fruition.

The problem with both campaigns, besides the lack of honesty, is the shortage of facts. As the opinion polls present a 50/50 split in the ‘Vote Intention’ questions, we will have to wait until the true results come in before we see whose rhetoric has triumphed.

In a debate of few certainties, one fact is for sure: the campaigns have been based more on emotion, threats and vague statistics, which have had the cumulative effect of bypassing informed democracy.

Perhaps this is why some people feel as though they are sitting on the periphery of the argument, rather than at the centre where they belong. With rhetoric apparently overtaking judgement, the referendum is quickly becoming farcical.

-- Oliver Wood is a student at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds


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