It looks like young voters are going to swing it

It looks like young voters are going to swing it. The demographic which is statistically least likely to vote could hold the key to whether the UK stays in or steps out of the EU.

The Remain campaign are convinced that the bulk of young voters, if they vote at all, will vote with them. They’ve rolled out a host of big beasts who are calling on young voters to march to the polls and courageously, decisively vote to not change anything. 

I’m not convinced that Stronger In have got the selection process right for these modern day political pied pipers. Eddie Izzard has a big youth following but Ed Miliband and Neil Kinnock? Really?

Neil Kinnock relied on his particular brand of arrogance and ineptitude by saying that if young people didn’t vote then the Leave campaign would win the referendum, “by default”. I’m unconvinced that implying that Remain had some divine right to win and only through the laziness of young voters might this be snatched from them is really a winning message.

I hope that young people do engage with this referendum and look at what really is at stake, I want that elusive 18 to 25 year old block of voters to register to vote, look into the issues and then vote to leave the EU and re-join the wider world.

Remain’s lazy assumption that they have the youth vote leaves an exposed flank which could be their undoing. Talking to younger voters I hear that they feel that Remain is good for jobs, good for international study, and good for easy and cheap travel. As Jacob Rees-Mogg would put it the arguments are “pretty thin gruel”.

I tend to find that when some of the broader issues are discussed those young voters think very differently about our continued membership of the EU.

Eddie Izzard’s sales pitch is that being pro EU is being an outward thinking, nice person and rejecting the petty nationalistic instincts that led to the horrors of the world wars. To be fair it’s a better line than Kinnock’s. But Izzard misses the point that swapping a little Englander mentality for a little Europeaner mentality isn’t the right answer either. Despite its internationalist rhetoric the EU is introspective, protectionist and fearful of the rest of the world. The EU’s spectacularly poor record in signing trade deals is testament to this.  A truly global minded organisation would have seen a host of international trading relationships established by now.

Not only are these trade deals not in place, the EU has maintained the most unfair and exploitative trade practices. In 2014 Germany made more money from coffee than the whole of Africa, a situation driven in large part by the grossly unfair tariff barriers put in place to protect the German coffee industry. EU trade tariffs, farming subsidy regime and dumping of surpluses has been instrumental in keeping some of the world’s poorest farmers in poverty. Worse than that, it uses our tax money to do it.  When young voters hear that poor British people pay for rich European agri-businesses to keep poor African farmers poor, they tend to think less well about maintaining that status quo.

Sovereignty looks like it will be the dog that didn’t bark in this referendum and yet it is an issue which should make the young sit up and take notice. The Labour Remain campaign keeps saying that the EU has prevented the nasty Tory government doing its nasty Tory stuff. Taking the left wing weasel words out of that, they are making the point that the EU prevents democratically elected governments from governing.  Once again I’m not convinced that this is a great sales pitch.

None of us should think that taking authority away from national governments is an accident or an unintended by-product of single market regulation, it is a founding principle of the EU. The European Community was founded from the ashes of WW2 and the tragic failures of national governments, it is little surprise that those countries hit hardest by the war see national governments as problems to be mitigated or obstacles to be overcome rather than part of the solution.

The EU wants to converge, create a more powerful centre and less powerful national governments, we hear the words “United States of Europe” and shudder, most of our continental cousins hear it and smile. If we vote to stay in the EU we are implicitly giving a green light to that convergence, that loss of sovereignty and that loss of UK national government authority. Young people should make sure they register, make sure they vote and make sure they vote to leave the EU because this could be the last vote they have that really makes a difference.

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