Posts Tagged ‘Stronger In’

Stronger In or Vote Leave: The view from the gym

01/04/2016, 10:14:47 PM

In the fourth in a series looking at the views of people from outside of the political bubble, on the EU referendum, Lucy Ashton gets the perspective from the local gym.

Peter is chatting while strolling on a treadmill, working out at the sprightly age of 82 at a special gym session for people with medical conditions.

The gym members, who are mostly over the age of 60, are debating the EU referendum between bursts on the rowing machine and cross trainer.

“I want to come out of the EU,” says Peter, determinedly. “They are passing laws which we then have to accept without any discussion. The EU even decides how many seabass you can take home after fishing.

“There are too many regulations and I don’t think we should be told what to do.”

Jeff, who is 76, agrees. “Anybody with any sense wants to come out,” he says, while lifting weights on a machine.

“I voted in the last referendum in 1975 on whether we should stay in the Common Market and back then I said yes because it was helping us.

“But that’s now changed, it’s grown into the EU with a huge block of 28 states. It’s all talking with no business getting done. We have finished up with the tail wagging the dog.”

Two women on neighbouring treadmills are also in deep discussion.

“I don’t know what to do, how should I vote?” one asks her friend.

“Out, definitely out,” her friend replies. “I read somewhere that we give £35m every day in subsidies to the EU but we can’t look after our own people and are constantly told we don’t have enough money to pay for services in our own country.”

“But what about my European Health Card when I go on holiday? Won’t that be affected?”

“Have you ever used that card? No. Besides, everyone has travel insurance anyway.”

She starts a comical “out, out, out” chant reminiscent of a union leader rallying the workforce, laughing along with her friend.

There’s a discussion about whether UK farmers would be worse or better off and the general view is they would be better off. One woman puzzles about what benefits she receives from Europe.

This handful of people seem firmly in the exit camp without any canvassing from the politicians. As one man pulling on weights sums up: “There will be a small minority who are swayed but I think people already know in their heart which way to vote.”

Lucy Ashton is a journalist and former Political Editor

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Stronger In or Vote Leave: The view from academia

25/03/2016, 07:05:15 PM

In the third of a series looking at the views of people from outside of the political bubble, on the EU referendum, Lucy Ashton gets the perspective from a Sheffield academic.

There’s a bitter wind blowing as Petra burrows her face into her waterproof jacket and stamps her feet. Coming from the Netherlands, she’s used to our weather of squally gales and rain.

Petra and her husband are both university academics who left their home country 20 years ago to pursue their careers and are now settled in Sheffield with their two young children.

“When we left the Netherlands, I was working as an occupational therapist in a large university hospital but my two-year contract was coming to an end,” she explains, stuffing her hands in her pockets.

“Sharing my life with a scientist, we knew we would be spending time abroad as it was a requirement in his career.

“We just never returned to the Netherlands and I’m not sure I could live there these days. The things we do for love…” she trails off with a grin.

Despite living here for the past two decades, Petra and her husband will not be allowed to vote in the EU referendum, which she feels is unfair.


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Stronger In or Vote Leave: The view from the café

18/03/2016, 04:46:08 PM

In the second of a series looking at the views of people from outside of the political bubble, on the EU referendum, Lucy Ashton gets the perspective from a local café.

In a Barnsley café, three woman are chatting about the EU referendum over a pot of Yorkshire Tea.

Brussels may seem a world away from this backstreet café but the referendum is definitely a pressing issue for Jane, Donne and Chloe, three colleagues at a respected, successful South Yorkshire company.

Jane, a company director, says she wants to know all the implications as an individual, as an employer and as a member of the business community.

“The EU touches on every single aspect of life, so much of our legislation is created by Europe,” she says, sipping her tea.

“If you look at the Working Time Directive – what would be the consequences if we left the EU? Would that piece of legislation continue? Would the Government have to start afresh and make it a new British law? Would the cost of implementing any new legislation be colossal?

“Britain pays £35 million into the EU daily, which I know some people are unhappy about, but Barnsley and South Yorkshire has also received a huge amount of European funding for regeneration.

“I have a lot of questions but don’t feel they are being answered. My worry is the issues are so complex, they will wash over everyone and people will vote for Boris Johnson because they like his hair or some other daft reason.”

Chloe, who is 19, voted for the first time in the 2015 General Election and is looking forward to voting again but is undecided.

“It seemed much easier to decide with the General Election as there were very definite political parties with manifestos and if you wanted to, you could speak to candidates directly,” she says, nibbling on a Yorkshire ham sandwich.

“With the referendum, I honestly don’t know which way to vote as no one has explained the consequences if we leave. There doesn’t seem to be any straight forward information, no one has drawn up a list of what will happen if we stay or go.”

Donna nods. “Every time you make a major decision in life you can read the details, take advice and weigh up the pros and cons yet with something as serious as the referendum, there doesn’t seem to be any information at all.

“There are huge consequences yet the issue has been really badly communicated and there are so many unanswered questions.

“Along with the impact on Britain, what would happen to other countries if we pulled out? Would Greece collapse completely? Would Germany become a super power? Should we have a responsibility to other countries?”

As they order another round of tea, Jane sums up the general feeling. “It’s frightening to think in four months’ time everyone will have to make a momentous decision that will affect not just Britain, but the whole of Europe.”

Lucy Ashton is a journalist and former Political Editor

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Stronger In or Vote Leave: The view from the school mums

11/03/2016, 05:27:20 PM

In the first of a new series, Lucy Ashton gauges the views of people outside of the political bubble, on the EU referendum. This week, its school mums.

The young children in this Sheffield gymnastics class are blissfully unconcerned with politics as they flip over bars and cartwheel along crash mats.

But their mums are starting to give the referendum some thought, although they feel there’s not enough information out there yet.

“I am moving towards voting for us to stay in Europe because it’s a fear of the unknown,” says Dawn, as she watches her daughter handstand in the sports hall.

Perched on a wooden bench, she adds: “I will vote but it does worry me that the general public get to decide something which is much bigger than us – this is why we elected a Government, to make these decisions.”

Her view on the referendum will resonate with those who campaigned for devolution in the UK.

“My concern is that the politicians are very focused on London and the impact that remaining with or leaving Europe will have on the City,” she adds, glancing at her tumbling daughter.

“The politicians all talk about it from the point of view of the City, they don’t look at how it would impact on me as a teacher in Sheffield, or a coal miner in Wales or a small businessman in Scunthorpe.

“They seem so far removed from us and Westminster is a world away from what is reality for a huge amount of the population.”

Dawn is adamant she will mark her X though. “I teach my girls about Emmeline Pankhurst so I will definitely vote.”

Her friend and fellow mum Sharon takes a different view.

“I want us to come out of Europe as I don’t believe people in Brussels should be deciding what we are doing in Britain,” she says, sitting crossed leg on the sports hall floor.

“I will definitely vote but I don’t think there has been enough information about the referendum.”

With divided views such as this, the politicians will have to jump through a few hoops of their own between now and June.

Lucy Ashton is a journalist and former Political Editor

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