BIRTHDAYS in our house involve everyone congregating on ‘the big bed’ for cards and pressies. With the size of my lot now (the Hulk was 20 on Saturday), plus Arthur the Labrador, that makes for a crowded bed, however big.
The pressies take up less and less space. For starters it’s difficult to get a motor up the chamber steps (even one as modest as a Ford Ka – daughter’s pressie for her 17th, last year).
She was 18 on Wednesday, a pretty typical teenage girl. Three guesses what she wanted to talk/was excited about on the big bed?
Get this – she’d received her voting card. She wanted to know where she could find neutral and impartial advice on the Remain/Leave argument for the EU referendum. She’d heard the BBC website was pretty good.
She wasn’t quite dismissive, but wasn’t quite doing handstands over her main birthday gift (I think she’d already found where it was hidden – they never grow up quite that much).
She was looking forward to a family lunch in Leeds, her first legal pub visit and our ritual family/friends meal at Sammy’s in Heckmondwike.
But she really wanted to know where could she read the cold hard facts about staying in or exiting the EU. I can’t tell you how proud I was of my little papoose!
And I can’t tell you how difficult that was to answer either – which is a problem the entire country is increasingly facing right now.
I tried, and I will continue trying to spell the situation out for her fairly and squarely over the coming weeks, but it won’t be easy.
Now, it’s no surprise that I am a committed Leave voter, but this is about her and millions of other people not generally interested in such matters, being able to find out hard facts, and make informed decisions.
I want her to come to her own conclusions, but it’s nearly impossible.
You’ll get plenty of rhyme and reason and most probably a few rants from me between now and June 23, but not today.
The fact is that more than usual this will be a vote beguiled by self-interest and misleading supposition presented to us as ‘facts’.
George Osborne tries to paralyse the nation with fear of being £4,000 a family worse off – this from a man who has slashed public services while still driving the national debt through the roof. He hasn’t produced an honest budget in over six years.
But then Michael Gove and the Leavers threw out a spurious figure of £350million a week paid into the EU which they mischievously suggest could basically save the NHS.
They know they’re being economical with the truth.
Such as there’s a difference between the tone of the truth-bending campaigns, that example might be as close as I can get to explaining it.
Cameron/Osborne and the Remain camp are forced into frightening us with Project Fear because there actually isn’t much positive to say about the mess the EU has got itself into. From economy to migration, to unemployment, security and the mega-federal government it’s created, it is beset by problems.
Anders Breivik slaughters 77 innocent people and the European Court says giving him the same meal two days running infringes his human rights. I’m gobsmacked. But today’s not about that.
The EU is a devil, but it’s the devil we know. The Remainers can only hope to eventually see a rainbow through the stormclouds – and so they frighten us with earthquakes and hurricanes if we leave. They resolutely refuse to even peek over their shoulders to look for a chink of blue sky.
For the Leavers it’s equally difficult because there are inherent dangers in any change of this magnitude.
Would stock markets take a hit in the weeks after a Leave vote? Would sterling take a whack against the dollar? Probably, briefly.
Would there be negative impacts on some industries or companies, headaches to overcome? Certainly, because this isn’t just resigning your golf club membership, it’s trying to unravel 40 years of chains and shackles.
So why not just say it?
I’m not sure why either side can’t acknowledge the honesty of those mutual problems and risks. It’s probably because they’re politicians – inherently deceitful and evasive, incapable of ceding even an inch of ground in the claim-blame catfight, for fear of having the tiniest concession blown out of all proportion by the media.
And in that they have a point, however disappointing and unhelpful it is for young people like my daughter who simply wants an honest assessment.
And we wonder why the public are turned off from politics and don’t vote?
AND FINALLY on the subject of big birthdays, allow me to doff my imaginary cap, bend a knee and offer a “many happy returns ma’am” to HRH QE2, a woman of such grace, effort, endurance, modesty, humility and of course patriotism, that the entire rabble-rousing inhabitants of Westminster ought to throw themselves in the Thames at the very mention of her name.
We won’t get her view on the EU Referendum because she remains resolutely above the fray.
But oh, what a pretty penny I wouldn’t give for her thoughts and intercession. Would it be against royal protocol for her to tip Phil the wink and have him let rip?
Getting right up the noses of our mafia, t’Cosy Nostril
[caption id="attachment_25307" align="alignright" width="249"] Hey punk, does tha want pocket sprung or memory foam...?[/caption]
BE HONEST, the ‘Heavy Woollen Mafia’ doesn’t have much of a Hollywood ring to it. Maybe if we gave it a Yorkshireish slogan … less of the Cosa Nostra, more of t’Cosy Nostril.
Given that the people running organised crime around these parts specialise in providing substances to put up your nose – and a knife point too, if you don’t pay up – that could catch on.
But we have organised crime, be in no doubt. An industrial scale drugs industry, fraud, money laundering, human trafficking. As with New York and Italy’s crime syndicates, it too is largely a family affair – complete with the same back-stabbing rivalries.
Now, if the demographic make-up of Dewsbury and Batley was dominated by an ethnic concentration of Polish people, you might see a lot of Robberowskis, Druginszkis and Ripoffsz in the news. If we were inundated by native Americans those headlines might feature Big Chief Flogging Beds.
But we’re not, so the paper doesn’t. News is news, crime is crime and believe me or don’t, we never see a colour or a creed when court cases or police raids occur. We see a story. Any newspaper reflects the people making the news. It just does.
I got an email from a Mr (or Ms/Mrs) MS Chopdat accusing me of loading this paper with anti-Asian bile. Mr/Mrs Chopdat might be staggered to learn that I rarely intervene in the news content of The Press – yes, really – apart from this page and when doing an occasional obituary.
But I’ll promise this – if he/she can tip us off to some serious white-English villains, or black, yellow, pink with green dots, I will investigate personally. In the meantime, can I assure him/her that the request for me to cause my bother “Somewhere else. Not here. Not in great Britian (sic)” had me chuckling for days.
Shall I nip over to one of those Asian havens of peace, equality, honest politics, religious tolerance and media transparency?
PS: I assume our exposure of Teflon Terry Zaman’s latest wheeze offended MS Chopdat’s sensibilities.
Interesting then, given how nothing was wrong, to see the offending signs disappear. But while I have Mr/Mrs Chopdat’s attention, could I seek assistance? Does he/she know where I can find Mohammed Ramzan, the owner of The Courts Banqueting building in Dewsbury?