I’m quite the Twitter addict and spend far too much time on social media so, in essence, I’m a connoisseur of memes – I’ve seen ‘em all: cats in hats; inspirational quotes; life-affirming ditties. Can we reduce politics to memes? Jez we can! We select facts which suit our needs, wiggle and jiggle and squeeze them into bite-sized chunks, stick them over a picture of, you know, whatever, and set them free to wreak havoc on whoever their intended victim is (because, let’s face it, they’re rarely positive).
The EU Referendum has brought up its own set of memes: I’ve been lectured on the wastefulness of the EU by Colombo, Sponge Bob Squarepants and Micky Flanagan; I’ve been told that voting out is racist by Nigel Farage, Oswald Mosely and Darth Vader; I’ve had every world leader’s face in my face telling me to face facts (but only the ones appearing on the meme – not the other bad facts!). Each fact – cutting, succinct and blithely wrapped up with its own pretty picture – screaming “Behold, for I am the truth – thou shalt have no other truth before me!”
Others are equally blithe: Leave keeps repeating its own falsehoods, like the £350m a week we (DO NOT!) send to the EU every week; Remain plays the race card every day, not understanding that a deck with that many cards of the same face must be rigged; and, today, I was horrified to see Craig Woodhouse, Chief Political Reporter for The Sun, write “Presumably Cameron and the Remain camp agree with this, given it’s from “experts” they love so much?”, like knowledge, understanding, research and being an ‘expert’ is a bad thing and these people, with their education and learning and thought, are bad.
It made me wonder: are we wandering to the world of The West Wing? Aficionados of Bartlett’s presidency like me (see, I do deal with old media, too) will remember Jed’s second election and the ten word answers. Bartlett had a problem: he was too smart to lead, too smart to make decisions and too smart to be trusted. His knowledge, intelligence and ability made him unelectable – and he needed to connect with everyday people by becoming an everyday person. In the end, intelligence and faith in electorate won out, I’m glad to say – but it isn’t in this election. We’re stuck looking for the ten word answers, feasting on memes and wandering blindly into the future, the vision of which was laid out by fictional words forcibly attributed to fictional characters. In, out, left, right, it’s just on, on, on.
All we get are 10 word answers and this question – hell, any question – needs more than that. Like Bartlett, I want the next 10 words, and the next and the next.
A lawyer, an economist and a businessperson walk into a pub…
But then I went to Politics in the Pub – (I’m biased – I’m one of the organisers) – and had a proper talk about the future. There weren’t any politicians, just experts in their fields. I listened to an economist, a lawyer and a business person talk with eloquence, experience, nuance, subtlety and, above all, at length. They said what happens now, what might happen in the future and the possible consequences of both votes. They didn’t threaten me with unfettered immigration or a £30billion budget, they didn’t treat me as a traitor or a racist, and, above all, they didn’t insult my intelligence. They could have – they were all cleverer (and certainly more knowledgeable) than me – and I didn’t understand absolutely every ramification and repercussion of what they said. How could I? I’m not an expert in these areas. But they didn’t pull intellectual punches – and in this far-reaching vote, the effects of which will be felt by the UK, EU and the world for years, if not generations, to come, why should they?
I love Politics in the Pub because it gives me the next 10 words, and the next, and the next and the next. Politics in the Pub gives me the next 10,000 words and it gives me a chance to ask difficult questions and receive difficult answers.
Everyone is entitled to vote – as it should be – but wouldn’t that cross in the box carry more weight if you’d sought out long, complicated articles, shared nuanced, balanced conversations, and heard passionate arguments from knowledgeable people? Mine does.
If you want to know why this debate was so great, take a look at Bradfordzone’s live blog – and make sure you come to our future events… and I’ll kindly ask you not to refer me to this article if you see me retweet, share or even create a meme; after all, hypocrisy is the new, erm, something.
The referendum debate rages on… but is the quality of the discourse increasing with its volume? If you want a little more than how Hitler would vote and how Putin’s keeping abreast of the situation, the next Politics in the Pub’s for you.
- WHEN: 15th June – 7.15pm
- WHERE: 1875 Bar & Restaurant, Ivegate BD1 1SW
- Tickets are free and available here
As the politicians move ever further apart, with every claim countered and every fact parried, we wanted to hear from those without political skin in the game. They’re knowledgeable, they’re educated, they work with, in and sometimes despite the EU every day… and none of them are looking for your vote. We’ve handpicked the guests because of their experience and interest, but, most of all, their ability to given a neutral, reasoned, nuanced to an argument that grows more polarised by the hour.
If you want to know what it’s really like for business in Europe, how the EU actually affects our laws and the truth about the economic argument, you’ve got to come to EU Referendum 2.
From business, Andrew Mason, MD of New Mason Design*
As an employer, an entrepreneur and a trader, Andrew is well-used to working within building regulations, employment law and importing goods, so will be a great person to hear how the EU affects, for good or ill, British businesses.
New Mason Design is a Bradford-based company specialising in breathing life back into historical buildings, marrying traditional architecture with modern technology, so Bradford, with its wonderful but often unloved architecture, is the perfect marketplace.
Andrew was born in Shipley and had a varied career before graduating from Warwick as a mature student. He travelled Latin America and South Africa working in social housing, getting held up at gun point twice in the process, before returning to Yorkshire. He started working on Bradford’s regeneration 20 years ago and has been hooked ever since. Outside of breathing life back into Bradford’s unloved gems, he is a keen reader, walker & gardener and enjoys the odd pint – so I know we can help him out with the last one.
From academia and economics, Dr Mark Baimbridge, Senior Lecturer in Economics at University of Bradford*
Mark is an expert in Britain’s relationship with the EU, his research interests including European economics, political integration and the Eurozone. He has written widely on the subject of economics and Europe, including reporting to the Treasury Select Committee on globalisation and business investment.
Mark is excellently placed to tell us about how the EU affects academia and the possible economic impact of Brexit.
From the law, Debbie Jukes, Head of Professional Knowledge at a leading UK law firm*
Debbie is now Head of Knowledge at a global law firm which has over 3500 lawyers worldwide, and is responsible for, amongst other things, the research team and legal libraries. Her team has been actively involved in researching and educating the firm’s clients on the likely impact on them Brexit in legal terms – providing training, seminars, briefings and helping clients build contingency plans. She is corporate/ and commercial lawyer having specialised for over 20 years in advising clients on mergers & acquisitions, long term commercial contracts, outsourcings and joint ventures, particularly in the financial services sector.
Debbie is naturalised Yorkshire. She grew up near the Welsh border before seeing the light and moving to Yorkshire nearly 30 years ago for work. She’s a regular at Politicsw in the Pub, bringing along her 18 year old son who, as a politics student, is now capable of out arguing Debbie and the entire family on anything and everything – so we’re offering her family counselling rather than the customary pint given to speakers.
If you want to hear from experts in their fields, people who, together, know the EU inside and out, and can tell you what it’s really like now and could be like after the referendum, book your ticket today.
*Please note, all our panellists are appearing in a personal capacity and any views they express about the European Union or the forthcoming referendum are personal views and are not necessarily the views of their employers and should not be inferred as such.
The biggest question we’ll be asked this year is “Europe: leave or remain?” Politics in the Pub is delighted to bring you all you need to know to make up your mind.
- When: Thursday 31st March 7.15pm
- Where: Bier Keller, Morley St, Bradford BD7 1AQ
- Tickets: Free from Eventbrite
Tim Iredale, BBC’s political editor for Yorkshire & Lincolnshire, and will stand between our two heavyweight guests to ensure that you get the answers you want. Tim, a proud Yorkshireman and Bradford resident, is one of the region’s foremost political journalists, fronting Sunday Politics and Look North’s Hull programme. He once said his scariest moment was asking John Prescott about ‘that punch’ – so we knew that he was the man to come between Richard Corbett and Philip Davies in a Bier Keller in Bradford.
Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, is an outspoken proponent of #VoteLeave and will spell out the reasons Britain should be out of Europe. Parliamentary Spokesperson for the Campaign Against Political Correctness, Philip was the first MP to publicly call for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU and will do his utmost to convince you that we’re better off out.
Richard Corbett, MEP for Yorkshire & the Humber, is a passionate Europhile and will be telling you exactly why we’re #StrongerIn. Richard is Deputy Leader of Labour Members of the European Parliament and speaks four languages. He describes himself as “the most boring person you can safely vote for” but we know he’ll enthral and engage you in the EU.
We’re delighted to be again ‘on the road’ and what a perfect place for an EU debate we have: Bradford’s Bier Keller on Morley St. We’ve put the oompah band on hold as our guests will have all the oomph needed to convince you.
Tickets are limited so make sure you book today.
To leave or remain: that is the question. Join Bradford Politics in the Pub for the debate of the year – maybe, even, the debate of the decade – as two of Bradford’s most outspoken commenters on European politics go head to head over the question that will dominate politics for the next few months and beyond. Shipley’s Philip Davies MP will be putting forward the case for leave; Yorkshire & Humber MEP Richard Corbett will argue we’re better off in the EU; ensuring the debate runs smoothly will be our returning guest-Chair, Len Tingle.
- When: Thursday 31st March 7.30pm
- Where: Bradford City Centre – exact venue tbc.
- Tickets: Free from Eventbrite
Len Tingle is the BBC’s political editor for Yorkshire, reporting & commenting on the region for many BBC TV programmes, most frequently Look North and Sunday Politics, and is a regular voice on the BBC’s local radio stations. He is one of the most informed, articulate and unbiased voices on the political scene across Yorkshire & North Midlands. A Barnsley lad, he’s a former Business & Industry specialist for both ITV and BBC, musing “Think of an idyllic or exotic place and I’ve probably reported from a shop floor, steel mill or coal mine close by – then caught the next flight out without seeing a single tourist attraction”… so it was high time he got rewarded with another visit to somewhere glamorous. Welcome back to Bradford, Len.
Richard Corbett MEP is Labour MEP for Yorkshire & the Humber, and is Deputy Leader of Labour Members of the European Parliament. Originally from Merseyside, serving the area as an MEP, Richard’s first taste of the right side of The Pennines was university in Hull, making his choice to swap Merseyside for Yorkshire again all the easier in 1999 when he first became our MEP. Richard, a speaker of four languages, has written a number of books, enjoys sports and describes himself as “the most boring person you can safely vote for”; but we know that self-depreciatory claim will be made a mockery of when he speaks to you about the EU.
Philip Davies has been Shipley’s outspoken MP since 2005, increasing his majority from just 422 to nearly 10,000. He has served on the influential Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee, and was the first MP to publicly call for Britain to withdraw from the EU. Most importantly, though, he pulls no punches and speaks plainly as he’s Parliamentary Spokesperson for the Campaign Against Political Correctness. Originally from Doncaster, Philip came to west Yorkshire as a student at University of Huddersfield before embarking on a career with ASDA in customer services then marketing. He enjoys sports, particularly horse racing.
Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union? The best place to hear both sides of the argument is right here in Bradford on 31st March. Make sure you get your ticket today.