So finally the phoney war on the Referendum is over and we now have a date. In just over 120 days, 17 weeks, we will get to vote on whether to remain in the EU or not.
Let us be very clear what we will not be voting on. We will not be voting on whether the renegotiations Cameron concluded last week are a good deal or not, we will not be voting on whether the Tories should carry on in Government and we will not be voting on should we have joined the Common Market in 1973. We are now members of the EU and the referendum is simply to decide if we should remain in the EU or leave it.
As I wrote in my Letter from Bassetlaw last week, there will be a lot written & a lot broadcast in the nest 17 weeks and each one of us will need to make their own decision passed on the information presented.
Last week I wrote on how to judge the quality of that information. This week I want to make my suggestions what areas you need to look at to make your judgement, they are:
Prosperity – will remaining in the EU make the UK a richer nation than leaving?
Opportunity – will remaining in the EU give us more opportunities for work, for trade, for education, for co-operation than leaving?
Peace – will remaining in the EU help secure the peace that has mostly held in Europe for the last 70 years better than leaving.
Environment – can we protect our environment better by remaining in the EU than by leaving
Security – will our security against international crime & extremist terrorism be protected by working with other EU member countries as a partner in the EU or by leaving the EU
I am convinced that the answers for each of these questions the answer is clear, we are better off in the EU and I will be campaigning to Remain In.
In the coming weeks I will look at each of these areas and going into more detail, for now I will just say that be careful who you listen to and make sure they base their comments on facts, not assumptions.
While the Referendum will dominate the news until the date we finally get to cast out vote (at least those that are allowed to vote do, the disenfranchisement of 16 & 17 years olds, UK Citizens abroad & non-UK EU citizens living here is a scandal that we need to address), there are other issues around. One of these is Fracking.
While the planning application by Island Gas (iGas) to drill bore holes in Misson is still be deliberated on by Nottinghamshire County Council, I want to address one of the myths that are being floated around about Fracking and why those in favour of claim we need to go down that path.
The claim that we need to frack for gas for energy security is often made but doesn’t hold water. As we are still at the exploration stage & no planning applications to frack any wells in the UK has yet been made, it will take at least 5 years (and probably more) before any useable amounts of gas will be coming to the surface from fracked wells in the UK. The problem with the UK energy gap is much more immediate[i] with threats of power cuts in the next severe winter we suffer. This gap needs to be filled as quickly as possible yet the Government is cutting subsidies & grants to the very technologies that could do this, wind, solar & tidal. This would also address the other side of the energy security issue, where we get out gas supplies from, as the resources would available here (as an island we have plenty of wind, tidal & even solar) and not have to be transported from possible troubled parts if the world.
I hope to speak at the upcoming Lib Dem Conference in York in the debate we have on Fracking and, if I am, I will be making the case that fracking is not needed.