Have I flown from darkness into light or from light into darkness?

June 22nd, 2016, 11am

It was 18°C with few clouds. The breeze was gentle.

We’ll find out on Friday.

In Thursday’s EU Referendum I will vote remain, for political and personal reasons.


English history is 1500 years or so of mostly blokes trying to organise themselves but deliberately failing to come up with what any amateur dramatic society or golf club can manage - a constitution.

The EU has its irritations but it has done pretty well in it’s 50+ years, a young exciting ambitious experiment constitutionally defined by commitments to:

  • an area of freedom, security and justice without internal frontiers
  • an internal market where competition is free and undistorted
  • sustainable development, based on balanced economic growth and price stability, a highly competitive social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress, and a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment
  • the promotion of scientific and technological advance
  • the combating of social exclusion and discrimination, and the promotion of social justice and protection, equality between women and men, solidarity between generations and protection of the rights of the child
  • the promotion of economic, social and territorial cohesion, and solidarity among Member States
  • in addition, the Union respects cultural and linguistic diversity and ensures that Europe’s cultural heritage is safeguarded and enhanced.

I can vote for all of that: a better more equitable world.

I can not vote for the leavers and their excluding ideas of britishness. A notion of ‘our’ country which they can only define through xenophobia, fear of the other and a hankering back to grey domineering Britain, riddled with prejudice, scant of choice, with a value system designed to maintain the power and privilege of institutions and the few.

If I have to choose between power elites, I would rather one that defines itself, than one that continues to avoid definition, keeping the waters muddy to allow the old boy, corporate, monied and right wing political interests to operate outside scrutiny, outside the law.


Elizabeth David. Jane Grigson. Claudia Roden. Keith Floyd. It is probably hard for people born much after me to appreciate the transformation these four brought about. English food was as drab and mundane before them as communications were before the mobile phone and internet. I guess I ate my way into being european.

And lived my way to being european, in or near cities liberated from the binary north south divide by Europe. In regions restructured by EU investment after being decimated by Thatcher and the right (and in Manchester’s case the the IRA.)

Cities transformed for the better as part of a network of great European cities, cities and towns transformed for the better by the variety, plurality and new richer identities created by the people they have attracted from all over the world.

I would rather live in Toronto or Manchester than the Greater - insert any small white village - of Johnson, Gove et al.

On the flight out to Toronto I sat next to two UK ex-pats, now Canadian citizens, tutting their way through the Mail and the Express. Every page dripping with hate, with the incitement to prejudice, ignorance and violence we saw played out later in the week. Every page blown with the exaggeration which narrowed the debate about tomorrow’s referendum to immigration, nationalism and economics.

So I will vote remain.

If you are undecided, I hope that you will join me, and put your faith in the future, in the UK continuing as an awkward and disruptive part of Big Europe, rather being Little England shouting in a dark room everyone left years ago, defensive and antagonistic to anything that doesn’t fit a notion of itself it can’t actually define except in flags, drunken brawls and meaningless ceremonies, while treating its guest (and many of its own) workers with all the human respect and morality of Qatar.

Shu and Porter said thanks.

Share this moment

Steve Dearden

Writer, producer and Director of The Writing Squad - www.stevedearden.com

Create a free account

Have an account? Sign in.

Sign up with Facebook