Tuesday 21 June 2016

In or Out

"Better out than in" said some rude person, in a context that we shall pass over quickly. But nothing could be more true when Erin Mae's poo tank light comes on, as it did this morning. I'd noted on the way down a couple of weeks ago that there was a yard offering a pump-out more cheaply than anyone else I know and, lo and behold, not long after setting out this morning, we passed it.

I pulled over and a man on crutches came down the wharf from where he'd been enjoying a coffee with some of his colleagues. Yes, they did pump-outs and, yes, they were open, and he called someone down to organise it. That was when things began to get a bit complicated.

One of their own boats was moored up right where the pump-out apparatus was situated, and Erin Mae's pump-out port was on the wrong side. Their hose simply wouldn't stretch the distance. They suggested it would work if I angled Erin Mae right across the cut, completely blocking it to all other traffic, but I thought that probably wasn't the Christian thing to do. So we bid them a cheery farewell, left them to their coffee, and got it done later at Gailey, for an extra fiver.

In or out is, of course, the UK's decision of the week. I know we're not the only ones to have found the level of the debate deeply frustrating. We're used to politicians using cheap sound-bites, when they reckon those will persuade people to their position. But, with this once-for-all choice looming, such tactics have seriously cheapened the discussion. Un-nuanced figures statistics have been thrown into the arena from all sides, while words of warning get dismissed as scaremongering. Surely, a warning is usually about something scary – that is exactly the point, and to be considered, not dismissed.

In the end, I think it has to be about your vision of how you want relate to others. I would rather adopt an open-faced, inclusive and welcoming approach. In an inter-connected world, I can't see that retreating to the margins is in anyone's benefit. Boaters encounter many people who have themselves retreated to the margins, and the results are often not pretty. Are there things that are wrong with the EU? Absolutely, but I would rather see us working on them from the inside.

Will the world fall apart if we vote to leave? I don't suppose so. There may even be some positive aspects – though I don't believe the rhetoric about reclaiming this or that, and I doubt whether the government will immediately cut the tax on the red diesel for propelling Erin Mae. But it is working collaboratively that brings the biggest benefits to all. Issues need to be resolved by talking round the table, not by shouting through the window.


  1. That's the most sensible thing anyone has said throughout the campaign, well done Martin