Is Blackpool a better place to live and work than five, ten, twenty years ago ?
We can only measure our lives by the familiarity within our own communities and the level of comfort we experience. Invited to register our beliefs on whether the UK is better off staying as part of the European UNION places us in the middle of a tug of war between those seeking our vote to 'Remain' and the case made for an 'Exit' from structures outside the writ of Parliament now controlling our lives.
Looking around Blackpool - a town I grew up in and familiar with throughout my entire life - it is hard to define the actual level of economic distress attributable to Britain's membership of the EU - and that which is the consequences of 'market forces' affecting all of us wherever we live in Britain today. I must confess to a large level of cynicism in much of the assault waged on our senses by a coterie of self serving politicians from all Parties. In particular the superior 'we know best' claims of this particular Government backed by a pack of corporates with international organisations all desperately seeking OUR approval for their status quo.
Considering the consequences of flawed faith in the 'free market' which has brought much of the country into penury (outside of London and the Home Counties) - it is astounding that like sheep we may be herded into voting to 'Remain' against our better instincts. Corralled by packs of party outriders and cajoled into belief we are better off in the EU - when any visit to the continent shows our standards of living to be well below that of most countries in western Europe - belies the realities of Britain today.
And for Blackpool with the sweeping cuts on public services, its hollowed out commercial centre, the flotsam of the unemployed and unemployable needing handouts and more, the macabre rows of 'charity' shops dominating our retail offer: all of this clearly demonstrates that the system isn't working the way it should in this part of Britain. Neglected structures, absent landlords uncaring of the condition of their property, rapacious corporate chains sucking disposable income out of the country - beyond the reach of HMRC into offshore tax havens - all combine to drain the town of its well being and early vitality. There are certainly determined business owners trying to make a difference without recourse to tax avoidance advisors - with some showing faith in their community through local commitments and worthwhile employment. But these are in a minority when set against the 'brands' and unfair economic playing field which favours offshore based companies and their tax dodges depriving the UK exchequer of revenue. You know who these firms are by their multiplicity of cash outlets and low wage no career employment strategies inflicted on young and old alike.
So is Blackpool a better place to live and work in 2016 than at any time previously ? A resounding NO. Is the future more promising with more of the same standards and open door policies applied by this Government - not a chance. Is there the opportunity to take a stand against forces determined to milk Britain, from its steel industry to its public procurement (ie paid for by UK taxpayers) - absolutely. Are visa free holidays in Spain or other European holiday destinations worth ignoring the failings around us at home - definitely not. Are we being taken for mugs in Brussels - most certainly yes. Is this what thousands gave their lives for in two world wars (and much more) - never. Stand up for the UK and the clear overwhelming need for this country to take charge of its own affairs. - Vote to leave the EU on Thursday.