Imagine a company that in 1973 had a 38% global market share in its industry, a market leader, but had since lost ground so that today it controls just 19%. Would you say that company had been successful? No, me neither. Now imagine that the company’s growth was so so low, or indeed non-existent, that by 2020 its market share was projected to be just 15%. Would you say it had a good future? Would you invest? No, me neither.
Well, that “company” is the European Union, the same sclerotic, sluggish, stagnant political-bloc that we are being told endlessly we must tie ourselves to, invest our very future in, gamble our entire nation on. If that sounds a good idea to you, I’ve got an oceanfront property in Switzerland to sell you.
Just look, for example, at a few facts:
Eurozone unemployment stands at 10.2%, twice that of the UK;
Youth unemployment stands at 20.9% in Romania, 24.6% in France, 30% in Portugal, 39.1% in Italy, 40.3% in Croatia, 45.3% in Spain and 48.9% in Greece;
Europe is the slowest growing continent on earth, except Antarctica where nobody lives;
The CBI (which supports Remain unlike its previous director general Lord Digby Jones who supports Leave) admits in its own report that the UK would be more prosperous if we left the EU;
Growth last year was 6.4% in India, 7.1% in China, 9.9% in Sierra Leone and 19.6% in Papua New Guinea, but just 0.3% in the EU, with major EU economies such as Italy having had zero growth in over a decade.
All of these, and many more besides, have given the Remain campaign a slight problem: What do you do when all the facts, logic, hope, optimism, opportunity, growth, prosperity, security and common sense are supporting Leave? It must be tough. To quote John Wayne, “Life’s tough; it’s tougher when you’re stupid.”
So what to do? Well, they do what they always do, namely try to scare people.
Take for example a recent appearance at the headquarters of B&Q, where David Cameron and George Osborne had the
hostages children staff herded into an atrium, a bit like a school assembly. There, among the people they believe to be stupid, they declared leaving the EU to be a “DIY disaster”. Among other things:
Leaving the EU will cause World War Three, and maybe Four and Five as well;
Leaving the EU will cause your home’s value to drop, your kitchen and bathrooms to flood, your roof to leak, your heating boiler to explode, your windows to smash, mirrors to break and mutant hybrid Giant Hogweed-Knotweed to infest your garden;
You will also get an earthquake, a tornado and a hurricane every day;
The entire coastline – including you, your family, your home and the West Midlands – will fall off a cliff due to coastal erosion into the sea;
There will be nothing on television except repeats of Miranda, the new Top Gear featuring Chris Evans, and The Brittas Empire;
Hercule Poirot will be deported;
You’ll get a rash.
Now the double-act’s appearance at B&Q could have gone worse. The media, had they not been economically illiterate, could have pointed out that the EU isn’t exactly working out that well for B&Q or its parent company, Kingfisher. The company has closed 60 stores, seen profits slashed, cut staff benefits, and its European operations are performing even worse. Not that the event went well of course; Osborne convinced people to vote, but for Leave.
Yet the entire event, and indeed the entire Remainiac campaign, reminds me of something. Not the Scottish Independence Referendum, nor even the General Election, but the Greek-philosopher Plato and a Chinese shadow puppet theatre.
In the Allegory of the Cave, Plato imagines a cave where people have been imprisoned from birth. These prisoners cannot see out of the cave’s entrance, only at the cave’s back wall. Outside is a fire, or a light source, and between the fire and the cave people walk carrying objects or puppets “of men and other living things”; the prisoners cannot see any of this, only the terrifying and vast shadows cast upon the cave wall.
The standard interpretation is that the cave’s darkness represented ignorance, the light source the enlightenment of knowledge, the shadows the fears and superstitions used to control the masses, and the puppeteers the rulers who controlled them. We could now add to that new analogies: that the cave is the European Union, which is all millions of people have ever known, and that the terrifying shadows are just the shadow puppet theatre of Remain’s Project Fear.
In the story, the prisoners become afraid to leave. The cave was all they had ever known, and they had no knowledge of what was really casting the terrifying shadows; for all they knew, they were real monsters. But monsters aren’t real, and neither are the fictitious disasters of Brexit that the Remain campaign project as shadows upon our modern cave walls: television, radio, newspapers.
The question then isn’t about whether their monsters are real or not, but rather whether life is better inside the cave or outside. I think we all know the answer to that. Reject fear. Vote leave.