In my article, at http://blog.davelevy.info/remain/, I asked why we wouldn’t want to be in a union, a political union with the other members of the EU. I offered three stories and suggested there were 27 stories as to what we could and should take. In a piece of good timing, Michael Moore’s latest film, “Where shall we invade next?” is a whistle stop tour of Europe (& Tunisia) looking at the better life that solidarity & social democracy offers.
From the work life balance of Italy with their 30 days paid holiday, 12 days national holidays (plus regional & city holidays), two hour lunch breaks, legally protected maternity leave and compulsory 13th month salary bonus, to France with their investment in free school dinners and sex education, Germany with 50% workers representation on boards, restricted working hours, and anti-fascist civics to Finland with its world class schools, with no SATS, no homework because children need to play, and the prohibition of revenue taking from schools. In Slovenia, he talked with students and politicians about their free access to University education, for foreigners too; they have many courses delivered in English. He visited Norway to study its prison system where prisoner dignity and rehabilitation are at the centre of their policy; they all have the vote too. He notes their police are unarmed. In Portugal, they have decriminalised the use of drugs, they have arrested no-one for possession since that Act and he finished his piece by showing a portion of the interview where three uniformed police make a heartfelt plea to their US counterparts to abandon the death penalty, they argue you can’t have successful policing without respect for the dignity of the citizen.
In Tunisia, he looks at women’s reproductive rights, where the resurgent street politics as a result of attempts to restrict women’s rights led to amendments to the constitution guaranteeing them. He ends in Iceland, where he looks at positive discrimination in the board room and Iceland’s unique success in prosecuting bankers after the 2008 crisis. He notes that Iceland was the first country in the world to elect a female Head of State and that of the three Icelandic banks, the one that survived was female led.
Moore’s message is aimed at the politics of the United States, but he provides us with seven stories where other European countries show the way, that solidarity is better way of building society and that there is such a thing. Moore’s contrasts are all American but it is clear that a Tory lead UK, one influenced by a re-energised, racist right wing would build a society based on the worst lessons from the USA.
Vote Remain, and let’s learn from Europe, we’re better together.
The Finnish section on education is on youtube, and is a marvel. I plan to write a separate blog on this alone.
I particularly like these quotes,
What? No Art?
All schools are the best.
How do you pass tests if you don’t have the answer in front of you? You have to know it.
The featured image is the USS Ronald Reagan, which featured in the film, the picture comes from a navy.mil site and in the US public money buys public domain.