May 28

I have followed the Brexit debate from before and then after the referendum. I voted Remain. My reasons for voting that way have not changed and to be labelled a “bremoaner” is an insult.
I was born in December 1935. Consequently, I was nearly 4 years old when World War II started. I was nearly 10 years old when the war ended. My grandfather personally experienced World War I and my uncles personally experienced World War II.
In my teens, I heard at first hand their horror stories of a world at war.
By 1960, I was an apprentice R and D engineer working for the BBC. Education and the BBC apprenticeship had exempted me from military service.
In November of 1960, the government ended conscription for 18 year olds. But I soon learned that it would not necessarily apply to those who had been exempt. And so, together with seven other BBC engineers, I was soon on a ferry carrying us to the Isle of Man.
There, in the training camp at Royal Air Force Jurby, we began our military training.
Whatever you think about military training, the bottom line is that you learn how to kill and destroy. From hand to hand combat to the complexity of a ballistic missile the ultimate aim is death and destruction.
And if you have any imagination, it isn’t difficult to understand the horrors of the end result. These imagined horrors were reinforced by the stories of the training staff who had served during the war.
At the end of our initial training, we all hoped that we never had to use what we had learned, in a real conflict. During our time in the RAF, the founding fathers of the EEC were working to consolidate their vision. A union between nation states, who had often been at war in Europe, was a bold idea.
Slowly more nation states joined the grouping to become the European Union. This Union has achieved one of the longest periods of peace since humans started to live in Europe. It may have its faults but to my mind, these didn’t warrant leaving the union.
Leaving could be the thin end of a wedge, which begins the breakup of this bold idea.
Brexit might be the first step in a return to the instability of individual Nation states.
Nation states encourage ‘nationalism’, often defined as: ‘An extreme form of patriotism marked by a feeling of superiority over other countries’. Nation states have historically fostered toxic relations that ultimately lead to cross border conflicts. These in turn attract likeminded “allies” and world wars develop.
My vote reflected a desire to offer my children and my grandchildren the possibility of a conflict free life. Other factors, which influenced my vote, were the “movements” devoted to “saving the planet”. I have problems with that phrase because I really don’t think the planet needs to be saved.
The planet has and always will respond as dictated by the physical laws of the universe.
Its place in the cosmos and its place in our solar system have always been dictated by those laws. It will exist long after our species has disappeared from its surface.
But how that surface changes in the meantime will be massively influenced by how we behave. It should be obvious to everyone that our species has slowly changed the planet into a global village.
Since I was born, the human population of the planet has quadrupled and is continuing to grow. In doing so, it has occupied more of the planet’s surface and consumed more of its resources. That process has created problems for other species and robbed them of their habitat. Our species rely on them to support our existence so a balance needs to be maintained for the benefit of all.
We are a selfish species and are not very good custodians of our individual parts of the planet. Accumulating evidence shows that our local behaviour, good or bad, can quickly circulate the planet.
The European Parliament is an institution, which theoretically, could regulate our behaviours to support the balance. It only operates for a fraction of the planet’s surface but its influence could expand.
My boss in the BBC used to say, “If you satisfy 50% of the people 50% of the time, you have done well!” Recent referenda, election and poll results suggest that by this criteria the EU have done reasonably well. Certainly not so bad that it needs to be broken up.
Anyone who follows the daily news must realise that humanity is on a slippery slope. We trash the environment and destroy habitat in the name of commercial profit. A profit measured in monetary terms. Money which is increasingly virtual and losing any connection with any real world value.
Consequently, my vote reflected my belief that the world needs another influential voice on the world stage. Nationalistic leaders hurl insults at each other, which in some areas include the use of weapons. Taxpayers (through their governments) fund the military industrial complex to provide these weapons. Logically weapons manufacture must be a rubbish business without tensions and cross border wars.
If you want repeat business, you need to foster national, racial and ethnic divisions.
(Done mainly through lobbying of governments, but lately by false news and social media.) This keeps people at each other’s throats and the money rolling in.
The capability of weapons has increased considerably since I finished my military training. Advances in all scientific and technological disciplines mean that weapons are far more efficient.
In other words, they can kill and destroy more with less effort by the user. This applies to all weapons from hand held to guided missiles and the more deadly chemical agents. All are capable of destroying large swathes of our planet.
More and more people want and can acquire these weapons, particularly nationalistic leaders. Why? I think the majority of our species want a peaceful world.
Why then do so many of our national leaders want and acquire more deadly weapons?
Perhaps it is time we thought more about that question and developed some solutions.
If the time taken talking about Brexit had been devoted to this question there might have been a “starter for 10”.
Solutions, preferably, would divert money and skills from weapons to the modern equivalent of biblical ploughshares. It should be obvious that the planet itself can be a hostile place for life. Earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, meteors and asteroids have devastated life throughout its history. In the past, these events were dangerous to life because they were unexpected and unpredictable.
We have technologies, which can mitigate against many of them and save life. For them to succeed, they need to be deployed where they are needed and where they work best.
Technologies that are a mystery to many people are embraced by the younger generation. And young people are in tune with a connected world.
Planetary problems need planetary solutions, which need planetary cooperation. My vote reflected my belief that the EU was a first step along the route of good planetary cooperation. Fertile minds with the ability to solve future problems can and will arise anywhere on the planet. They will need the freedom to interact with each other with minimum restrictions.
The future belongs to the young and I don’t think Brexit will be good for that future.
Mr Whiteside believes that not agreeing with the Brexit vote makes you a Bremoaner. I may not agree with the Brexit principle but I’m not moaning about it. My moan would be that the UK Brexit negotiators don’t seem to want what the Brexiteers voted for. I wish they would get on with it so that we can adapt our lives to the new norm. Whatever that will be!?
I doubt that I will be around for long enough to be seriously affected by it. But I would like my children and grandchildren to know what future to expect. The best I can hope for is that they will look back and say “(Grand) Dad was right!”

Cliff Bell

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