EU referendum

Tomorrow is the final day voters can register to vote in the European Referendum. We can make amends for not voting in a General Election after five years but once we leave the EU, that’s it. There’s no going back. So we really must register to vote. You can go online on your mobile and do it. If you can check Facebook you can definitely register to vote. Please register to vote, and then vote!

To be honest, I can see why a lot of people wouldn’t bother voting because the whole thing is bloody confusing, and the general feeling is that (as is always the case for those who abstain) is that we are f*cked either way. However, we are making a decision not just based on our own circumstances but on our children and their children. So, to reiterate, PLEASE REGISTER to vote. And then go and vote! It doesn’t make you a geek, it makes you the kind of person your ancestors who lived through/fought in the Great Wars would be proud of.

We are only voting in this referendum because of the Conservative Party, and that annoys me. We aren’t doing it for the best interests of this country. I am a left-wing voter. I detest everything Conservatives stand for, but that’s another story for another day. What I detest even more is the nationalist faction of the Tory party and UKIP, which are pretty much the same thing, who are coming out with the most polemical rhetoric, and a lot of it is ill-informed and completely irrational. Generally it tends to appeal to the older generation/working class/less well-educated who believe in the Great Britain of old; who dislike people who are different to them, who dislike diversity and fear multiculturalism, who believe that things were better the way they used to be. They are being fed this guff by Boris Johnson, who is the biggest fraud in British politics. It is well known in political circles that Boris is pro-Europe. The man is a hotch-potch of ethnicities – Turkish included. So how can he look at a poster on a bus stop which says (completely wrongly, of course) that to remain in Europe is a passport for millions of Turks to come here? If it’s alright for his ancestors to do so, why can’t others? The man is so desperate to become Prime Minister that he would literally denigrate his grandmother to achieve his aims. So would anyone fall for his bullshit?

Anyway, I am voting based on how this would affect me and my offspring, and I vote to REMAIN. I am not going to go into every reason why I believe we are better placed in the EU – there are loads of benefits for staying in, there are loads of benefits for opting out. But the simple fact is that we just DO NOT KNOW what will happen in the event of a Brexit, and what we DO know – based on hard facts – simply spells disaster. Have a look at the Economist online and see what the intelligent people are saying about all of this – not the politicians’ garber.

So what about me? First off – I’m the son of an immigrant! But I also work in the Higher Education space, and I speak with Chairmen/women and Vice-Chancellors of major universities on a daily basis. My work depends on bringing in world-class talent from all over the world, who contribute to making our universities the multi-billion industry engines of growth that they are. It would be terrible if we left the EU for George if our universities lost their place in the global HE system, so why would I put his prospects at risk? Last year I dated a Latvian girl, and I learnt about Latvian culture and heritage through meeting her family and friends. I quite like seeing people from different cultures living around me, because I get to eat different foods, experience new things, and I quite enjoy the inspiration to go visit other countries. The NHS – it simply could not function without immigrants. In the hands of an unbridled Tory government the NHS would be dismantled in a shot, so why would I take this risk? Jobs – some immigrants come here and provide jobs for other people, some immigrants do the jobs people here think are beneath them, and if you feel under threat by an immigrant coming here driving down your wages in a race to the bottom, then it’s surely there’s no better motivation to get promoted and aspire for better things? Housing – not an immigration problem. We simply don’t build enough houses and the planning system in this country is beyond a joke. Sure, the houses prices might drop, making it more affordable, but we don’t know the economic effects of Brexit and who’s to say wages won’t fall? On the economy, free trade etc – well listen, there’s people far better qualified than me saying it’s better to stay in. We are one of the world’s richest countries, why would you put this at risk for some unknown eventuality in the case of Brexit? Destroying this would be nothing short of criminal for our children’s futures. The money we pay to the EU – there’s tons of evidence to suggest we get a lot back. Finally, defence. It’s much safer to be in the EU than out of it. A terrorist can be of any origin, including British.

I am not saying the EU doesn’t need reforming. It’s a horrible, bureaucratic mess and having studied EU law as part of my degree, it’s so boring and so complicated. But it is better to try and reform that from the inside than come out of it and then realise we’ve lost what was a very good thing for us and our descendants. What actually frightens me more is living in a country with fascists who hate any other language being spoken other than English and believe that Britain can go back to the “days of old”! I look forward rather than backwards. I am aspirational and not apathetic. I vote to remain in the EU, and I don’t want my future being in the hands of older people who wear rose-tinted spectacles because the younger voter couldn’t be bothered to vote. So register and then get voting! #remain

Sir Alex Ferguson

For people of a certain age like me who follow football, the last few weeks have been a monumental time of tumult. Sir Alex Ferguson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Michael Owen have announced their retirements bringing the curtain down on the careers of a particular generation that we have literally grown up with.

The biggest news is clearly about Ferguson. I am 30 years old and I know nothing other than Sir Alex Ferguson winning trophies at Manchester United. Their dominance is as accepted as the Queen being Head of State. It’s going to be incredibly strange seeing someone else walk to the dugout at Old Trafford, because for all of the change that has gone on in the last thirty years, for all the different players that have walked the hallowed turf, the constant genius of Ferguson has perpetuated the glory at one of the world’s most venerable clubs.

 Within this, he has literally changed the social fabric of the nation; being right at the heart of the cultural revolution that began 6 years after his appointment, with the vast influx of money coming from the commercialisation of our national sport and bringing in the most exciting footballers in brand new, world-class stadiums. Some of the very best played for Sir Alex.

I was a young boy when he first started his tremendous haul in the early 90s and pretty much every young lad in my school back then supported Liverpool or Manchester United; of course the young pretenders were the latter, with Liverpool losing their place at the top of British football over time to United. I feel nothing but blessed that I grew up in this era; seeing the likes of Cantona, Sheringham, Yorke, Solskjaer, Butt, Neville, Schmeichel, Keane ,Stam, Giggs, and the best player I’ve ever seen – Ronaldo. Not to mention Beckham scoring the fabulous goal against Wimbledon. In a time when, in the absence of the digital age we’re in now, BBC1 Match of the Day really was the highlight of the week, showing the very best and most exciting brand of football.

 My club, Newcastle United, were real challengers back in the early to mid-nineties and some of the most iconic players played for us – my favourite being the indomitably graceful winger, David Ginola. He was the reason why I played winger for my youth team (although I always wished I was Alan Shearer, though I never had the ability play centre forward!).  I must add that as a Newcastle supporter, Steve Harper has been with the club for 19 years and has been nothing but a loyal servant to the club. There is much debate around whether that loyalty helped his career, but for the time being, I would prefer to ignore the pros and cons of this. Such loyalty is rare these days, and it’s right that his long tenure is recognised a huge positive.

It is also right that all of the above are lauded appropriately. They have been at the very top of their game in a time when the English league became the very best in the world. It is unbelievable to think that the likes of Swindon, Oldham Athletic and Sheff Utd were in the same league as Ferguson and Utd in 1993. The football world has changed exponentially since then, and there is a lot to be said about the negative impact of money in football on some of the most prestigious names in the game. But for the time being, it is right that we celebrate Ferguson being the most incredible mainstay at one of the biggest brands in world football. In the words of Andy Gray – take a bow, Sir Alex!