This post is by Nancy Jardine.
When the chips are down: at a time of crisis (Collins Dictionary) . There are similar meanings to be found in other dictionaries… and there’s also this one: When you are in a very difficult or dangerous situation, especially one that makes you understand the true value of people or things…
In a very difficult situation…That’s how it was yesterday, and will be for the foreseeable future, for me and for millions of other people who live in the UK. The EU Referendum that took place across the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on Thursday 23rd June 2016 was for the people to decide democratically if they wished to remain in the European Union (EU), or leave the EU.
What’s the European Union all about? The initial European Coal and Steel Community, formed in 1950, had only 6 member states. Their aim was to unite their countries, economically and politically, after the bloodbath of WW2 and to create a peaceful time in which good trade would exist between them as neighbours. The ideal that wealth could be distributed better to those most needy across their community was an amazingly wonderful concept – not easy to effect, but not impossible either. The group was renamed as the European Economic Community in 1957 and was sometimes referred to as ‘The Common Market’. http://europa.eu/about-eu/eu-history/index_en.htm The number of member states grew to 9 when the UK joined with Denmark and Ireland in 1973. In the intervening years since 1973, the number of member states has grown – the present being 28, though there are a number of new applications to join. It has never been a simple matter to join the EU because each applying state is required to fulfil rigorous criteria before entering as a member.
The EU is like many organisations: you put money in and receive money back but it’s also about a lot more than that. Each EU member state contributes to the fund and each receives money back but not necessarily the same amount they put in. That sounds simple, even trite, but the EU is an exceedingly complicated business machine. There are many different reasons for the amount each state contributes and for how the pot of gold is redistributed. The fair redistribution of wealth is still an ideal but with many more member states trying to access the money pot, there’s no doubt that it has become cumbersome and bureaucratic. Many reciprocal arrangements have had to be made to accommodate the differences between the states. Regular updates to situations take ages and that’s not ideal, yet, isn’t surprising either. Cross border co-operation is essential for many of the opportunities that arise within the EU.
The EU isn’t perfect but for some parts of the EU the money paid back is thankfully received and well spent. The money my country of Scotland has received from EU coffers is a necessary part of our economics. We are one of the geographical areas which gets more back from the EU than we seem to pay in.
Why does that happen? We still have many deprived areas which need extra funding to improve local situations. EU funding is also designed to encourage a programme of sustainable economic growth across the whole of Scotland. Another reason we get the money from the EU is because Scotland (as a region) doesn’t get that level of support funding from the UK parliament in Westminster, London for the improvements needed. Huge amounts of UK funds go to improve the infrastructure all over the UK- in particular the SE of England where the bulk of the UK population live. (Travel on roads in Scotland and you’ll see how they differ from the motorways of London and the South East of England!)
I’ve also benefitted personally from being a member of the EU. I’ve been extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to live in another EU country (Holland) for a few years between 1979 and 1982. While my husband was out beavering away at work every day in Holland, I was busy giving birth to, and rearing my two daughters. My healthcare, and that of the whole family, was easily arranged since we had an agreement under EU regulations. (In the UK we receive FREE health care and it was the same for us in Holland) All other official requirements for us to live there (like Visas/Tax/ Social Security payments) were easy to arrange under reciprocal agreements within the EU.
My daughter studied at Heidelberg University (Germany) for a year, the funding for the fees coming from reciprocal programmes of education within the EU. If my Fiona hadn’t been in Heidelberg, I wouldn’t have written my contemporary mystery – Topaz Eyes – because Heidelberg is where it all starts. And co-incidentally, the main female character was also a student at Heidelberg University- fancy that! The 3 shadows above are of myself, my daughter Fiona and my other daughter Sheena as we looked down the River Neckar. (The photo was taken on one of my school vacation trips when we went to check up on how Fiona was doing!…and to enjoy some tasty German beer.)
It’s been easy to travel anywhere in the EU with a British passport due to EU border control arrangements. That might change now. I really hate the idea that my children and grandchildren might be denied the opportunities that I’ve had if Scotland is pulled out of the EU against our wishes.
So why am I now in a difficult situation? The Recent Referendum result across the whole of the UK was a fairly narrow margin in favour of leaving the EU (51.9% for leave and 48.1% for remain) However, that’s where my personal dilemma begins because Scotland wholeheartedly chose to remain in the EU (38% for leave and 62% for remain) As a Scot, I now face a lot of uncertainty during the coming months, and years, because the choices made about the EU Referendum highlight other deep-rooted problems between what is now a very divided and not a particularly ‘United Kingdom’.
You’ll find a lot more Referendum information and maps HERE.
It’s fairly clear from the map that Scotland has a very different view on what the EU does for us than what is felt in England and Wales. Scotland wishes to remain a member of the EU and to effect that it may mean we have to become an independent country. That situation would totally delight me, though I’ve no desire for any of the nasty backbiting and fall-out which may be part of any future break-up from the rest of the UK. Scotland is an outward looking country- and we look to all directions in the same frame of mind.
In my #Celtic Fervour Series of historical novels, the tribes of northern Britannia are also very different from those of the southern areas. My northern tribes of ‘Scotland’ are naturally geographically more remote from those of the south. They don’t have the same obvious metal wealth (gold, silver, copper jewellery and coinage) as southern tribes. It would have been a much more difficult job for the Romans to extract natural resources like iron from the rocks of the Grampian Mountains, than it was to mine the more easily accessible lead, iron and copper from the mines of ‘Wales’ or ‘south-west England’. The northern tribes have fewer easily gained material resources (crops, manpower to become slaves) that were prized by the invading Roman Armies. I’m currently writing about how the Army of Agricola, in AD 84, is comparing the ‘deprived’ wilderness of the Caledon Mountains to the more populated ‘civilised’ areas around Londinium which are by then already Romanised! (wink, wink)
You know what? – I’m going to forget about the current political situation and enjoy writing more of my current novel tonight!
Whatever you’re doing this weekend I hope you don’t have to face any really difficult choices.
Nancy Jardine’s writing includes: Historical Romantic Adventures; Contemporary Romantic Mysteries and Historical Time-Travel for Teens.
Nancy Jardine finds all historical eras totally fascinating: research a delightful procrastination! Her week is taken up with grandchild-minding, gardening, reading, writing and blogging. Catching up with historical programmes or TV series and watching the news is a luxury – as are social events with friends and family but she does a creative job to squeeze them in.
http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk http://nancyjardineauthor.com/ Twitter @nansjar Facebook: http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG and http://on.fb.me/1Kaeh5G (for The Rubidium time Travel Novels.) email: email@example.com
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Most novels are available in print and ebook formats from Amazon, Barnes and Noble; NOOK; KOBO; W. H. Smith.com; Waterstones.com; Smashwords; and various other ebook stores.