Back in my youth in the late 1970`s one of my favourite bands was called The Clash, they typified what I enjoyed as a young teenage punk living in Birmingham where the winds of rebellion and change had resulted in a music revolution that embodied frustration and angst. I loved the whole thing, the music, the clothes, the energy. Going to gigs as often as I did really gave me some great experiences and memories.
The Clash performed a particular song that was one of the few that ever made it to the number one spot in the charts. It was Called “Should I Stay or Should I go”. The title of this song is for me today in 2016 extremely relevant as this great nation decides to answer an epic question. Should we stay in the EU or should we go. This for people of my generation in their mid fifties is without doubt the biggest issue that we have had to decide in our lifetime.
I regard myself as a patriotic Englishman, I also regard myself as a proud Brit and I regard myself as a member of the European community. I have business interests in 3 different EU nations. I have my own consultancy in the UK, I am the MD of a business in Poland that employs 46 staff in Warsaw and Krakow. And I am an employee of uTrack with its base in Dublin in Ireland. Three different EU countries.
For me the freedom to move across borders to seek work where it is available is right and proper indeed I received an award from the EU in 2006 for the work that I did in Poland in recruiting staff for First group, an award that I am to this day proud of because the process was respectful and fair and it worked. (Ironically I got the award the day after I was made redundant, hence my own need to find work across borders where I could which is what I did!).
I believe myself to be immensely lucky that I have been able to work and live in countries that I would never in my wildest dreams have thought that I would ever visit let alone work or live in. I am a huge believer in learning the lessons from history. The EU was founded after the second world war where the United Nations decreed that a unified Europe was a safer Europe, it took time but the Common Market eventually came into fruition and then finally the EU proper and the advent of the Euro.
If I reflect on my life in the late 1970`s the world was a very different place. The cold war was in full swing with a literal iron curtain separating eastern block nations. Germany was literally split in two halves with the Berlin wall serving to segregate two different ideologies. NATO and the Warsaw Pact were on a constant state of alert and every May-day UK TV showed footage of the frightening mass military displays that were shot from outside of the Kremlin. Visiting communist countries was almost impossible and after all why would you as no trade was allowed.
Conversely the UK was embroiled in a terrible conflict with the IRA that cost countless lives on both sides ( That came home to roost when the IRA bombed 2 pubs in Birmingham ) again whilst access to Ireland was possible it was not as you can understand back in the day a comfortable experience for obvious reasons.
So, for me I have lived through a historic and in my view a positive process of reform I have gone from a young rebellious youth living under the shadow of nuclear annihilation from the forces from the East who made their military pact in Warsaw, ironically enough where I was last week hosting an HR Awards event that had 700 Polish people in attendance. To being the only Englishman last year at the uTrack Christmas party in the heart of Dublin where I was shown as ever the hospitality and the kindness that only the Irish can offer, and indeed enjoyed the Craig as they call it.
I could have quoted the obvious and talked about protecting jobs, maintaining a stronger economy, and providing greater security but this is my personal story. So, for the reasons above and the fact that being in the EU has allowed me to be married to my wonderful former English rose wife Tracey, and today has also allowed me meet my wonderful German girlfriend and partner Yvi . I am staying firmly in the European Union, I genuinely and sincerely hope that you will join me, but if not I do of course respect your decision dear reader but I wanted to put my cards on the table.