Thursday, June 23, 2016


A prayer today for our country, as we go to the polls and decide whether to remain a member of the European Union or to leave it, that all cast their votes with wisdom and understanding and for the sake of the common good.

I have come to my own decision, though the difficulty I have had in choosing a side throughout the campaign seems to leave me in a small minority.  All I have known is that I want a high turnout and a close result (and the banishing of complacency).

I have found the debate unedifying and the campaigns unrepresentative of my interests.  They have spoken only in simple terms about the economy, the question of migration and why the other side is wrong.   And the tone has been unpleasant, the fashionable 'Remain' camp worse than the rebellious 'Leave' brigade, though they would not like to think so.

Another problem is the question itself, of course.  There is no way of expressing reluctance or reservation.  How I wish there were some way to answer 'Remain, in spite of myself' or 'Leave, but not in a strop, keeping friendly relations with European countries'.  The question means what it means, even if I want it to mean something else.  It is not 'Is the E.U. a good thing?'.  In spite of its simplicity there is an inevitable tinge of bias, since the question as far as I am concerned ought really to be 'Now that we are a member of the E.U., shall we remain or shall we leave?'.  If we were still outside the European Union I would not vote to join it as it presently stands... but that is not an answer to the question on the ballot paper.

Our options are not quite even, either.  We are not choosing between two candidates or two parties: we are choosing between relative certainty (for better or worse) and great uncertainty (from which could emerge good or bad). We have some idea what a 'Remain' vote would produce, but 'Leave' could mean all kinds of things.  Remain is concrete; Leave is a labyrinth: this is unfair on the latter.

Perhaps I am less worried about the actual result than by the motives that will have lain behind the result.  May they not lead us 'to do the right thing for the wrong reason'; may they be the good and just motives of good and just hearts and minds.

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