Monday, 20 June 2016

Stay connected...

So remember back in April when I gave a brief summary of both sides of the EU referendum to try and explain what people who were undecided had to choose between on the 23rd June. I mentioned how I did not think this blog was the right place to air my views on the contentious subject and try to persuade my loyal readers to vote the same way as me. However I have changed my mind because I do not want the people of this great country to mis-place patriotism and do something they will probably regret in the future (I say probably because to be honest no one definitively knows what it will mean if we leave but it is highly unlikely it will be good news).

Yes, we are Great Britain and coped before we joined the EU (in 1973) but times have changed. No longer can a small island (please look at a map) such as ourselves prosper from going it alone. We cannot take back our colonies and reform the British empire as slogans such as 'We want OUR country back!' suggest. Thankfully, the world has moved on. Globalization now means although countries have not moved nearer to each other, they are a lot closer and better connected with the advent of the internet and air travel being the two main reasons why planet earth seems smaller.

Therefore it would be foolish and naive to turn your back on what is essentially a large network of friends/allies. It would most likely have a detrimental effect on the economy because we would lose trade links (or have to pay greater tariffs on imports) and also have a negative impact on international relations because if the UK votes to leave, we would  basically be sticking two fingers up to the rest of Europe. Not a good idea in my opinion because we live in a world where terrorism is a daily threat so we all need to stand together as one and do as Jo Cox's husband said following her murder; "unite to fight against the hatred that killed her."

I have to admit that although I was always going to vote remain because I believe if it is not broken, there is no need to change (it definitely needs improving but I do not think it is completely busted) I was not passionate and did not really mind if people voted the other way. However, I have recently thought what about the referendum in a new light. Speaking as someone who suffers from a rare disease and reads up regularly to see if there is any promising research, I have realised that staying in the EU is better from a scientific research point of view because having multiple brains from around Europe looking into conditions is better than just having research done in Britain. I am not saying that British scientists can not find cures for illnesses (I am not just talking about Friedreich's Ataxia) but isolating them is going to make it far more difficult and also will cost more because at the moment they can use pool funding from across Europe in order to pay for research. Additionally if a new drug is developed by a scientist in Europe, it will probably cost double or triple the price that other EU member states will pay.

Remaining is also better for creating and maintaining rights for various groups such as workers, women and the disabled. Since I published my post on Uber, a few of my family members have, as expected, had a go at me and have argued vehemently that Uber is not a good company at all because they are degrading workers rights and exploiting their drivers in order to make profit. This is probably right but these same London taxi drivers who are so concerned with workers rights are the ones (not all but most) who will vote to leave the EU on Thursday. The same EU who have introduced numerous laws to give workers rights and are still the last bastion who are preventing Tories such as Boris Johnson from ripping rights up and letting big business trample on the workers. As for what voting out would mean for disabled people, I urge you to read this article: Also please read this article about the relationship of women's rights and the EU: and then tell me that leaving Europe is not a massive step backwards.

Some of these next arguments to stay in the EU may seem trivial on the surface but they mean quite a lot unless you are planning on never going on holiday in Europe again. Firstly, there's the issue of freedom of movement. This does not just mean that immigrants are able to cross our borders, it also means that we can go on holiday or even simply pop over to France to buy some cheap alcohol without any issues. If we did leave, that would mean we would have to get visas every-time we wanted to travel overseas which is just a pain. Secondly, a Brexit would probably mean that the price of an average flight would go up again because we would no longer be able to freely move between countries so therefore certain ones might charge you an extra tax to enter their airspace.

Regular visitors to Europe who use mobile phones will be aware that the prices to use your handset in Europe are at an all time low and are set to fall again in the next few months. Again, if we were no longer in the EU we would not get these cheaper rates so I dread to think what our bills would look like when returning from holiday. Less important but still worth a mention is that the other day I heard that you will soon be able to use Netflix in the EU which could be quite handy if the weather is not as good as planned! Also the current exchange rate for the Euro is abysmal and it is no coincidence that it has been free-falling ever since a poll said more people wanted to leave than remain. It just leaves you wondering what the exchange rate will be like if we did actually leave.

The media mis-inform everyone on a daily basis when it comes to the EU (see the chart pictured below) so I thought I would do my own research and find statistics that are quite difficult to argue with. When I searched for 'how many EU migrants have entered the UK in the last years', I found quite a few results. The numbers varied greatly so I have gone for a figure that is slap bang in the middle. 333, 333 is not me taking a conservative estimate of the amount of EU migrants who entered Britain last year nor is it stretching the truth. The figure on its own along with posters such as the one below the next paragraph make a lot of people angry and I cannot blame anyone for feeling that way what with the media's hold over most of the public . However if you take the population of the United Kingdom (which is currently 65 Million) and do the maths, you will discover that only 0.52% of the population migrated over here last year. A laughable percentage when you consider that certain newspapers make out that millions upon millions are crossing the border.

I completely agree that the rate of immigration can not continue like this but I feel people should stop using immigrants as a scapegoat and instead focus your blame on the government. They are the People who are to blame for our housing shortage, they are the people to blame for problems in the NHS and they are the people who let big corporations avoid paying tax so that there is a shortage of money in the pot. They are also the ones who can put a cap on immigration so that it doesn't get out of hand (some would already argue that boat has sailed). All the rhetoric from Nigel Farage et al is synonomous of the way Jewish people were blamed for all the problems in Nazi Germany. I am just scared because more and more people are agreeing with a man who seems to be a watered down version of Adolf Hitler!

Contrary to popular belief, leaving the EU would not stop immigration, it would just push those migrants to go 'underground' and either illegally enter the country or overstay on visas. The obvious problem with this is then we would not be able to monitor the amount so then the government would have an excuse not to do anything about it. This referendum is not some magic wand that will stop migrants at Calais. If anything it is going to make the widely perceived problem even worse because immigrants would probably no longer come in through the usual routes. As I said earlier, no one really knows because obviously the UK have never left the EU before but the odds of an exit working in our favor are stacked against us and I am not willing to make a huge gamble with the future of this country just so it will make it a little bit more difficult for migrants to come over.

Now I am going to France today to watch a few Euro 2016 matches so I have already voted by post but most of you (well I hope so anyway) will be heading to your local Polling Station on Thursday to put that all-important cross on the ballot paper. All I hope is that the British public use their common sense and realise that our country is STRONGER IN the European Union. I do not want this to be the last time I can hop across the Channel without having to apply for a Visa.

Bye for now!

P.S. If Britain does come out of the European Union, I would like to be the first to suggest that we go the full hog in reclaiming our proud history and instead of deporting any foreigners (because that costs too much money) we should just keep them as our slaves! That way we will have our country back under our control and we would also get slavery back. So who is winning then rest of Europe?

DISCLAIMER: I was being 100% sarcastic with that last paragraph in case you had not realised.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

What's the big deal?

I went to see the highly controversial adaptation of the JoJo Moyes novel Me Before You last night and came away feeling quite confused as to why the film has received so much criticism. I get that euthanasia is a very thorny subject and brings out a lot of emotion but I personally thought both sides of the argument were presented well. I will not give any spoilers away but some of the people respect Will's (the leading man who happens to be a quadriplegic) decision and say that it is his choice. Whereas others believe it is plain wrong and selfish because of the hurt suicide leaves behind. I have mentioned before how I feel the government would happily kill off disabled people if they could avoid mass outrage but I strongly disagree that the message of this particular movie is if you are disabled, it is best to die as quickly as possible.

I am not afraid to stand up (not literally obviously) and say that as a disabled person, I thoroughly enjoyed the story. I connected with the character's so much and saw myself in Will (minus the good looks) that I even found myself welling up at one part. Yes, certain parts were unrealistic to say the least such as when it cuts to him in her house. Are we supposed to believe an electric wheelchair can fit through the front door of an old, terraced house? However, I can overlook those lapses in realism because I feel the film does what I set out to do on a regular basis. Show people that underneath it all, disabled people are normal (actually I would say we are funnier, smarter and more self-assured than most).

Seriously though, I think the fact that the main protagonist is disabled is not important. Although the whole euthanasia question comes up a fair bit, Me Before You is predominantly a love story and that is what I enjoyed. I was not thinking about how disabled people are portrayed in the media, because yes that is a massive issue that needs addressing but it goes much further than onne movie. Nor was I sat in the cinema pondering the pro's and con's of assisted suicide. I simply fell in love... with the feeling of falling in love. I know that sounds cringe and I am not saying that I have not fallen for people before but to have that emotion reciprocated just seems perfect.

So I would recommenced you go and see the film so that you can decide whether I am right or wrong. Like I said, Me Before You is a book but who has time to read anything nowadays (oh the irony)? Also, in the screen version, you get to see the captivating Emilia Clarke who is just beautiful and I could not take my eyes off.

Bye for now!