Can Europe Make It?

Honest facts are what's needed

Shout Out UK, award-winning independent youth news network, asked 'If you could decide now, would you stay IN or OUT of the EU?' Out of the 728 young people polled (16-25 years old) 68% voted to stay IN.

Erik Green
22 February 2016

When Europe was Young. Flickr/Europan University Institute, at the 1975 European Council. Some rights reserved.As the most important vote in a generation nears, from public opinion heard so far it's clear there's a lack of truthful information leading to misguided opinions based on over excitable newspaper headlines.

For ‘us’ the younger generation whichever way Britain votes it will affect our future and the country we inherit: our jobs, our opportunities, the makeup of our communities, our legal system and the relations we have with our nearby allies in Europe. That's why many voters yearn to see through the spin, drama and soundbites of Westminster (centrestage of this campaign, despite having promised early on that it would be a national campaign ). "I want to see all the facts, and all the information before I make my decision" writes one voter.

The problem for many of the campaigners, in particular the euro-sceptics, is to appear different and separate from the Westminster parties and their policies; this struggle reflected by a first time voter, "Same old politics, same old votes - nothing ever changes"

This is where I disagree. Everything will change from your decision, and those changes are irreversible. Without wanting to sound too much like Alex Salmond, this is our vote (our only chance) for a generation to reaffirm our fractured  relationship with Europe or to break away and lead our own futures – independent.

"This is such an exciting and interesting time in politics how can you not be interested?" Alex, aged 20

Below are the examples of misconceptions many voters have concerning a BREXIT.

" Out - it will stop terrorists entering the country"

"People are only saying they want to leave because they're racist" (not sure what news has been read here!)

These misconceptions show the need for both the media and politicians to explain this campaign and its meanings, in a way easily understood by all voters, from the intellectual to the barman. 

“If we leave, France won't check the Calais border meaning they (the immigrants) come here". Sarah, aged 18.

Scaremongering is going to play a huge part in the campaign: unfortunately some are falling for what seems to be either exaggerated facts or well spun untruths.

As with all political campaigns some have already made up their mind.

"I will vote to leave, it will give us more control over laws and finally we can control our borders"

The appeal of deciding some of our own laws and stopping immigration are two big factors for the electorate voting no to the EU.

"Out gives us control over laws and policies that led to much of this country's position"

Fear will play a huge part in the vote. In Scotland many changed their minds when confronted with the ballot paper, scared of independence and deciding to play the 'safe bet'. A decision some voters I've talked to are regretting.

"Leaving is stupid, I don't want to lose my job"

" I'm scared of what will happen to our fragile economy...we are so dependent on Europe"

The much needed question on Britain’s position on the international stage will also be asked. 

" If we leave the EU, our military will not be supported ( a confusion here between NATO and the EU)”

Whichever way Britain decides we cannot have second thoughts over the vote we cast. There is no second chance. That's why it's so important for all of the electorate, no matter how politically engaged, to have a complete understanding of the honest facts. Honest facts are what's needed and we need independent offices and companies to provide these. 

In a vote that will change the country, Europe and possibly the world we grow up in, our decision cannot be made on misconceptions. I've seen how the young electorate are ready to be engaged, if we are provided with the wanted facts and as little spin as possible. After all the vote we cast can never be reversed.

The beauty of democracy or the cruelty of the ballot paper?


When Europe was Young, at the European Council, 1987. Flickr/ European University Institute.


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