Leave or stay, EU vote will affect every aspect of life
Professor Ivor Gaber is Professor of Journalism in the School of Media, Film and Music at the University of Sussex.
This is an unusual column, it starts with a commercial break.
Have you registered to vote in the Euro election later this month?
But why bother, voting never changes anything does it?
Maybe it does, or maybe it doesn’t, but this vote is more important than your average election.
Photo courtesy of Abi Begum (CC BY 2.0).
In fact I'd suggest that this is the single most important decision the British people have ever been asked to make.
Why do I say that? Quite simply because, one way or the other, the vote to stay in or leave the EU will impact on almost every aspect of our lives for who knows how long.
After almost 50 years of membership, we and our institutions are deeply intertwined with the European Union, for good and good.
There was a similar referendum in 1975 but that decision was not nearly so crucial: we'd only been in what was then called the Common Market for two years so had we voted to leave, not a great deal of unravelling would have been involved.
But today, after almost 50 years of membership, we and our institutions are deeply intertwined with the European Union, for good and good.
That intertwining ranges from mundane aspects of everyday life such as food safety and air pollution to much bigger issues like trade, industrial policy and, of course, immigration.
Photo courtesy of Descrier (CC BY 2.0).
Throughout the campaign we have heard heartfelt pleas from the public of "I just want to be given the facts".
The pleas are understandable but mistaken.
There's a genuine question, for me at least, as to whether a referendum is the best way to decide such a complicated issue.
This is because we are not talking about facts, here and now on the ground, but about facts in the future, in other words predictions about how things might, or might not work out, at some unspecified time in the future in a very complex, unstable and globalised world.
As Groucho Marx might have said, but probably didn’t, “I only make predictions about the past.”
That's why there's a genuine question, for me at least, as to whether a referendum is the best way to decide such a complicated issue.
It’s been a long campaign and some say not a very productive one, but there has also been some fun to be had.
There’s been Boris Johnson pretending that he always cared really deeply about the EU, when in fact there’s been the slightest hint that in fact he cares a tad more about succeeding David Cameron as PM.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Parsons/ i-Images (CC BY-ND 2.0).
And equally amusing has been the sight of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn pretending that he's always been a passionate supporter of the EU when there's more than a tiny bit of evidence that he’s always harboured serious reservations.
The campaign, which ends in a couple of weeks, has really been up and running ever since the 2015 election when the Conservatives unexpectedly won on a manifesto that committed an incoming Tory Government to holding an in/out referendum.
David Cameron, along with many others, must have been silently cursing the polls as the election results rolled in.
I'm told on good authority (as political journalists are known to say) that Cameron agreed to this commitment safe in the knowledge that he'd never have to deliver it because the polls were telling him that the most likely next Government was another Coalition with the Liberal Democrats who would instantly veto any thoughts of an EU referendum.
It didn’t quite work out that way, which is why David Cameron, along with many others, must have been silently cursing the polls as the election results rolled in, whilst of course pretending to be delighted at the thought of a Conservative Government dependent on the backbench votes of swathes of Eurosceptic Tory MPs.
Photo courtesy of Number 10 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).
Which brings us to the polls and why they are proving such an inadequate guide as to which way the vote will actually go.
I have lost count of the number of seminars I've attended where the polling pundits have been asked to explain why the polls are giving out such contradictory messages "Don't know" they chorus "we're working on it".
Well we will all know sooner rather than later but before we do - here comes that pesky commercial break again - don't forget to register.
This article first appeared on The Argus website.