Why I’m sending Mr Cameron 34p.

Dear Mr Cameron,

I’m a little confused. If you follow my blog (and let’s face it, why wouldn’t you on your tea break) you would know that this often happens, usually following the announcement of some education policy or another. Then the confusion gets coupled with a bit of research, some healthy debate and then an opinion.

I thought that was what I was meant to do this time, with the whole ‘EU in-or-out’ thing. I’ve been doing my homework as an independently minded, resourceful citizen, and reading up on the EU from a variety of sources. I’ve looked at academic research on various aspects of the EU and Britain’s relationship with and in it. I’ve read opinions from experts on economics, politics, human rights and business. I’ve had some hearty discussions well past my bed-time with my husband on the subject, and with a wider audience (even the mummies and grannies at playgroup). And then your leaflet drops through my door.

It’s probably fair to admit at this point a couple of things:

1. I am broadly in agreement with the sentiments expressed in your publication;

2. I’m a qualified history teacher.

The first point should make you smile over your chocolate hobnob, as that’s one less person to worry about stuffing up the government’s plans for the next few years. The second point probably made you drop the rest of your biscuit in your tea and you’re wrestling with whether to read on, or find a fork and rescue it (your biscuit I mean, although education might be nice).

You see, when I trained as a History Teacher back in the days of independent thought, emphasis on skills, and teachers actually enjoying going to work, we learned how to examine source material for bias. We learned the importance of constructing well-supported arguments, quoting relevant evidence and referring the discussion at the end of each section back to the question asked. As History Teachers, we then imparted in our students the importance of testing sources against a premise, of spotting leading information and considering the provenance of sources as that may prejudice the information presented. We encouraged students to form their own independent conclusions, which may differ from their peers, from their teachers and indeed leaders in that field, but as long as their arguments were well argued and justified, that was ok.

If I were to use your leaflet as a lesson resource with a class in the future (presuming you stop my government butchering my profession and I can actually face going back) I would expect them to identify the obvious weakness, the determined bias and the lack of any counter evidence that supports the other side of the argument. Sadly the drawback of this resource is that as a rather clumsily produced and obviously loaded piece of government propaganda it would fail to provide the requisite level of challenge for higher level students.

So I’m posting it back to you as sadly it is not fit for purpose. It does not fairly examine both sides of the argument, and it does not provide the necessary supporting evidence in order to critically examine the question that voters will be presented with on June 23rd this year. I could also opine at length about the paternalistic tone of the leaflet which makes the assumption that I am too stupid and incapable of researching this issue independently prior to voting that you need to tell me what to do…but then your tea is probably long cold.

And the 34p?Apparently that’s how much it cost to send each household your little note*. Well, I feel really bad that you’ve wasted such an exorbitant sum of money attempting to patronise the electorate of the UK when you had such an opportunity to send us some useful info, that I’m giving you a helping hand. Maybe you can rustle up a leaflet for me (we’ll call it Volume #2) before June 23rd that gives the other side of the debate. You know, for balance.

I hope you’ve had a nice tea break. It’s been great to chat. If you’d like some help next time you want an informative leaflet knocking up, maybe you could let me and the mums at playgroup know. We’re quite smart really, and we’d be happy to help.

Best wishes,

Jen x

 

 

 

 

*I’m happy to spend another 34p if it means you do your job properly. I’ll try not to consider the fact that another £9m to fix this makes a total of £18m that could build a couple of schools and stuff.

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65 Comments Add yours

  1. Kira Morgana says:

    Reblogged this on The World of The Teigr Princess and commented:
    HAH! This sums my thoughts up on this leaflet…

    Like

  2. RE says:

    To be fair to the leaflet, it makes it VERY clear (on the cover) that it is not a balanced resource, so you’ve set up a bit of a straw-man argument by presuming that it considers itself as such…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jenbeaton says:

      That’s a fair enough point, but there are enough straw men presenting similarly unbalanced arguments in power that sometimes it’s worth setting one up in order to debate the issue…And there is the deeper issue of whether it’s acceptable for the government to send out such a one-sided leaflet with the sole intention of convincing voters to cast their vote in the way that the government wants. Doesn’t smack of an open democracy that lays the responsibility for decision making with voters.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. dizzymcdizzy says:

      To be fair our government shouldn’t be spending money (whilst public services are on their knees through lack of funding) on a one sided document. They’d be better off putting an advert in the Times/Sun/DailyMail (delete as appropriate) setting out their position – oh and funding it from their own coffers, not my money. They are representing me, along with the rest of the occupants of this country so I don’t think its unfair to ask for a balanced document, if they need to send one at all.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. jenbeaton says:

        Agree entirely -that was the nub of the thing for me. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. margaret thomas says:

    Couldn’t have put it better myself…… No I REALLY mean I couldn’t hAve put it better myself. It’s the sort of thing I was thinking but didn’t know how to write it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jenbeaton says:

      Thank you! It was honestly a tea and biscuit fuelled moment of crossness, but the point remains -regardless of what side of the fence the current leadership stand, or you as an individual, if tax-payers’ money is to be spent on information pamphlets, it must strive to be as even handed as possible.

      (My leaflet and 34p went back to Mr Cameron yesterday in the post…we shall see!)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I cannot believe Cameron & his cohorts believe we will not do our own research on this issue. To send out such a biased ‘information’ publication is a disgrace. To charge it to the UK taxpayer is unbelievable. To actually believe we won’t do our own research is reprehensible. But then again it’s what we’ve come to expect from such a corrupt government. Needless to say I shall be sending mine back.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Helen pask says:

    Mine is going back today, must admit I haven’t read it and don’t intend to. I have a kind of my own and don’t need his propaganda to try to make me vote his way.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. scouseacus says:

    Jen, like you I’m for staying in. The leaflet sort of shoots itself in the foot.
    Aerospace – 53% exports NOT going to EU.
    Financial Services – 59% NOT going to the EU.
    IT and Telecoms – 54% NOT going to the EU.
    Transport – 56% NOT going to the EU.
    Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals – mainly owned outside UK.
    IT & Telecoms – mainly owned outside UK

    I’m all for staying in to ensure I’m closer to UK assets (?)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Privilege checker says:

    Middle class teacher gets smarmy about something she believes in.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jenbeaton says:

      Thank you for checking my privilege. I believe in something. Better than nothing. I shall endeavour to be less smarmy…Oh whoops.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Jay says:

      And? Does that make her opinion less valid?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. jenbeaton says:

        Even smarmy people are allowed to say stuff (I guess we should just do it quietly) 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Mark Crow says:

        Jen, I LOVE your opening argument, and I agree with it TOTALLY. Especially the fact that there was a time when teachers actually knew how to teach; and were allowed to. However, I don’t agree that to possibly believe in ‘something’ is better than believing (perhaps being unable to decided, for a host of reasons), in nothing.
        One can’t ‘go around’ believing in all sorts of things just for the sake of NOT having anything to believe in.

        Like

  8. excellent blog. I’ve tweeted it. A friend had posted it on Facebook. Would you care to write a blog on your research pro the EU please? I’d love to read what you’ve found and why you recommend Britain staying in the EU.

    Like

  9. Charlotte Y says:

    I understand where you’re coming from, but on multiple occasions it has been stated that this leaflet is one sided, one opinion. That’s not to be disputed. Both campaigns get equal resources to conduct both sides, I’m pretty sure we’ll all receive the next leaflet before the referendum takes place and this is simply the government sharing it’s opinion.

    Like

    1. jenbeaton says:

      The issue is whether tax-payers money, spent by the Treasury should produce a leaflet to all households that tells us how to vote on a referendum issue where we, in a democratic society have a free vote.

      I have absolutely no issue with campaign groups, political parties or indeed individuals presenting a leaflet that presents a certain point of view. It’s expected. I don’t expect my local pizza delivery menu to contain beans on toast as ‘balance’.

      But the government as an institution and a body are more than the majority party elite, the cabinet that make decisions. It is clear that within the ‘government’ there is disagreement, so how many people are we really talking about that sanctioned a leaflet that presents one perspective?

      Like

      1. dizzymcdizzy says:

        I’m actually wondering if DC’s leaflet is actually pitched quite well, after reading the comments on here pointing out the patently obvious to you. Yes we know its not a balanced document, yes we know the Government has clearly stated its intentions. The argument is: should that be the case? jeezlouise – people baffle me!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. jenbeaton says:

        Yep. I think there’s another (or a few other) ‘things’ that have come out of this craziness.

        1. It’s a really darn emotive issue;

        2. There are so many pieces of data and information out there that you could class as ‘facts’ to support one side, other side or ‘I’m-not-sure-yet’ it is probably near impossible to compile them all into a digestible mail shot;

        3. The point I think has been largely missed (as you’ve suggested) that it’s just not cool for a government to tell people what to think.

        Jen xx

        >

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Smiling Death says:

        ‘The Government’ is not divided on this issue … the Government policy is to remain in the EU. Certain members of the Government have been given – most unusually – license to remain ministers while opposing Government policy.

        They are not telling us what to think, they are asking us to vote on a question on which they are making their view clear. In the same way as the Scottish Government promoted a Yes vote on independence in that referendum.

        Like

      4. jenbeaton says:

        Still sits uneasily -the lines are blurred in the eyes of the public. It’s tricky publicly to ‘give’ MP’s a free vote (agreed, unusual) but then to use the opportunity (legally mandated) to provide information in a balanced way to push one side of the argument. Otherwise what is the point of a ‘free’ vote (or having license to dissent)?

        And if it’s not telling us what to think, the cheesy family shots, the ‘this is important for you and your family’ are acting as leverage with our psyche.

        Send me an A4 factsheet with the top ten reasons for staying in, and the top ten for getting out. No pictures. No ‘make the right decision (aka this one) or your family gets it’ schmaltz.

        Simples….?

        Like

  10. Surely you should be sending the Government about £3 if you care so much (and yet agree with the general principals of the leaflet) for that is the more realistic cost of the leaflet per household.

    P.S. Your argument is completely hypocritical. You claim that because you are a ‘history teacher’ that this means you know how to analyse sources, in a manner that supposes that analysis from other professions are reductive and not relevant (at least, that is implied).

    Like

    1. jenbeaton says:

      Hi, I’d love the link that supports the £3 actual cost.

      I’m not sure where I have been hypocritical specifically- I haven’t said one thing whilst doing another. If it’s my tone that offended, well, sorry for that, I was cross. And the inter web is a great platform I guess for cross people.

      In no way do I infer that analysis from other professions is reductive or irrelevant -if you read my other pieces it’s clear that I have a teaching background and this is the perspective that I usually write from (as well as some crochet and how I monumentally fail sometimes in parenting).

      When writing about crochet I sincerely hope it’s not in a manner that supposes other craft forms are reductive and irrelevant (although if you enjoy an afternoon of half-treble in dk with a cup of tea, you will understand that this sentiment is correct).

      Best wishes,

      Jen

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My £3 costing is a guesstimate. But still incredibly more accurate than the meaningless 34p that you argue is somehow relevant in making you some kind of ‘hero’.

        9 million quid, I guess as it is one per household that is 2-4 pounds per leaflet… the postage is minimal in the cost of the leaflet….

        As a historian, I suspect that you should make your original hypothesis as false (like a scientist would do) for it is a falsehood.

        The postage cost wasn’t the issue (as a mathematician would tell you). It was the cost of the leaflet overall that was the issue (as a politician would have told you).

        But, still vote to stay… please… but i am singing to the choir here…

        …and pointless arguing for the sake of it…

        Like

      2. jenbeaton says:

        Wow. That’s a bit mean. I wrote an article on a blog that you can probably imagine due to it’s heavy wool content isn’t some sort of national publication seeking any other kind of recognition. I’m usually crocheting, doing the school run and trying to fit in some tutoring. There’s laundry too. I don’t spend my day doing this, although I do spend my time thinking about stuff. I haven’t attempted to make any kind of argument (relevant or otherwise) with the purpose of making me ‘Some kind of hero’. As a member of the choir I appreciated the singing though. My point in trying to answer most of these comments is that it’s important for the singing to continue…

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I guess i am being ‘offensive’ to be supportive (as if that was ever a saying)

      I think my main complaint is that there seems to be an ever increasing culture of ‘we are so forgiving’ and ‘we will always help people’ without the realisation of a ‘real world’.

      One that is trying to counter the ever-increasing ‘self-based’ and nationalized world in which we live. The rise of nationalisation really does frighten me.

      Good luck.

      Like

  11. Brian Skeys says:

    We haven’t received our copy yet! It is an illegal document produced by the government giving only one side using tax payers money BEFORE the start of the campaign too avoid being included in the allowed budget.

    Like

    1. Smiling Death says:

      Not illegal … in fact required by law (2015 Referendum Act section 7), and required to be published before the ten week period commences – also required by the same section of the act. And the Act was supported by every MP in the Conservative Party who has since complained about the Government publishing this booklet. Not to mention by UKIP’s one MP.

      Like

  12. Steve I says:

    I’m pro-Europe but this leaflet made me less so. Counter-productive? I think so… The Government are so arrogant that they think we will do what they tell us, without any useful facts to back up their arguments.

    When I read the words “the Government believes…” my gut reaction is to take the opposing view, based on their record of rewarding the super-rich while cutting disability rights and benefits for the most vunerable; selling off our national assets to foreign firms for our own good; selling arms to Saudi Arabia so they can bomb Yemen and kill MSF workers; turning schools into Academies although the evidence against them is damning; totally ignoring the advice of all drug experts in their out-dated and harmful War Against Drugs; etc.; etc.; etc.
    How can I believe a government so self-serving, so arrogant, so self-important?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jenbeaton says:

      I think that’s what really got to me: “the Government believe”. Perhaps I’m a little sensitive to 1984-isms, or too naive to think that government publications should be factually balanced. Especially where we all get a ‘free’ vote…

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Alma Cavaciuti says:

    I agree, I have also made up my mind, but it would have been nice for the government to give us a few hard facts.instead of wasting our money on a booklet with lots of pretty pictures. All the information they provided would fit on a sheet of A5 & it was far too reminiscent of Janet & John

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jenbeaton says:

      Although Janet and John would have proved a certain humour to the situation!

      Like

    1. jenbeaton says:

      Thank you for the reblog!

      Like

  14. Hear, hear! I totally agree. I also read the leaflet hoping for some useful information to help me to make an informed decision and also decided it was more than inadequate and I had better do some other reading up. It’s really only fit for the recycling bin (where it now lies)!

    Like

  15. David Holt says:

    Couldn’t agree more,
    I didn’t even want to read what they sent because I knew it would be biased propaganda.

    I honestly don’t know what is best. In or out, I will admit to not knowing enough about the advantages or disadvantages.

    My heart says out, my head says wait a minute Have a think about this. Now I’m thinking, if the government thinks it’s a good idea to be in then we’re probably better out.

    Like

    1. jenbeaton says:

      Biased propaganda is ok to read as long as that’s kept in mind -I guess everything comes from some perspective or other. And I couldn’t agree more -there is such a wealth of information it is utterly impossible to read it all. I think the conflict between head and heart is what it comes down to, and the fact that head says ‘hold up think a minute’ is a good check on the gut-feeling of leave.

      Your last line “If the government think’s it’s a good idea to be in then we’re probably better out” speaks to the ‘Trust-Deficit’ we have in our leaders, and that feeling of needing to disagree with what they say because they said it.

      I wish there was ‘an’ answer in the completely singular sense!

      My view (of which I clearly have many!) is to keep reading, regardless of who it’s from with an open mind. Sort the facts from the spin and vote. How, has to be up to you!

      Like

  16. Alan Foster says:

    I totally agree that the leaflet is condescending, and says nothing that you don’t hear on TV every day. My dilemma is that I really believe that we should not be in, however the issues of disentangling ourselves could take years which could have a terrible effect on our country. Being of a certain age it is unlikely to be of serious concern to myself, however it may have a devastating impact on my 9 grand-children, so I intend to speak to my 2 eldest grand-daughters (age 20 & 19) to get there views and will probably be swayed by their views.

    Like

    1. jenbeaton says:

      This is really forward thinking approach -I have a 7yr old and by the time the ‘blip’ or ‘tough times in the short term’ he is likely to be either in the job market or looking towards university or training. What legacy do we leave with our actions? I’d be interested to hear what your grand-children say!

      Like

  17. Robin says:

    As previously mentioned the leaflet is clearly biased doh. What would be relevant is the view of those that think that leaving would be a jolly good thing for all of us. I feel that we would be more closely aligneded with the USA and that would for a start speed up the privatisation of the NHS, for starters. Anyone who thinks they can get off the train and start afresh is deluding themselves. The people who will benifit in the main are bankers and shareholders who can make a quick buck, come on think about it, why would anyone want to leave? It won’t be cheaper to follow the Norwegian deal and we won’t be better off in general. The car manufacturing industry will beard hit maybe not initially but do you really think that Toyota, Nissan and Honda will not eventually be offered lucrative deals to set up manufacturing plants in Europe.

    Like

    1. dizzymcdizzy says:

      Missed the irony then eh Robin? Got any stats to back up your ‘facts’. All Im hearing from both sides and their supporters is noise.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Reblogged this on Rose Tinted Ramblings and commented:
    Whilst i’m almost certainly now on the Britexit side… i do love this blog post pointing out how patronising Mr C is to the electorate and the fact that we could have built a new school with the money wasted on this propoganda leaflet… The £9mil wasn’t even spent in the UK I might add, and that enrages me all the more….,

    Like

  19. ejb117 says:

    This had me chuckling and nodding in equal measure – I agree wholeheartedly! I’ve actually received TWO of these booklets, within the space of three days. I’m not sure whether this is due to the fact that Nigel Farage has extensive links to the next constituency along from where I live. My French work colleague hadn’t received one at all (hmmm, funny that!) and was interested to see it so I gave her one and am considering returning the other one to number 10…

    Like

  20. Mark says:

    Well it has been said that the government has decided that they were going to use the extra monies from the tax payer on top of the already allocated monies for both parties so in my opinion this was to try and out do the opposition in a corrupt debate by a corrupt government that condemns people and companies for availing taxes and then they are found to be doing the same thing

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Keith Rampart says:

    … so what grade did you award the leaflet?

    Like

    1. jenbeaton says:

      I returned it back to the person who submitted it with an opportunity to improve. Because I’m nice like that.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. ShakinItAllAbout says:

    Did you know if you scribble out many of the words on the front cover, you can make it read “Government lies to remain in the European Union”. True story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jenbeaton says:

      I just found this on instagram yesterday, somebody was clever on that one! You know what, that would have saved me a good deal of trouble and comment replies if I’d just posted a picture. Darn it!

      Liked by 1 person

  23. livewiresi says:

    This country has become apathetic and soulless in the 70’s and even the 80’s noone really protests and shouts out media is censored. I agree the money could have been better spent. I don’t read propaganda though and that.leaflet will be going in the bin!! Why did the government not find a company to provide a balanced leaflet and also tender out for the best price which I must do in my job!! That might have saved the British tax payer ( although there isn’t many of us) some money.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. livewiresi says:

    Sorry didn’t finish sentence in. 70’s. & 80’s we wouldn’t have pit up with this crap!!!

    Like

  25. Neil says:

    Shame that all the returnd leaglets and 34p’s won’t ever see Downing St., but only the inside of s sorting office

    Like

  26. Hazel Caldwell says:

    Hi Jen,
    I would just like to point out two things-
    No 1 .Mr Cameron did not use his own or the Conservative parties monies to publish this leaflet but ours the British taxpayer.
    No 2 .Mr Cameron chose to have it printed in Germany ..9 million pounds that British business did not receive … enough said.
    Regards,
    Hazel

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Having read your analogy of the leaflet, and listened to and read many comments regarding the upcoming referendum, personally I think that you “IN” voters are missing the point. I can see that a vote to leave the EU will result in a great deal of pain for a good few years to come, but like most things in life, if something is good for you, it does involve a degree of suffering. The real issue at the heart of this Sovereignty, I would like to be able to vote for a government who can implement the electorates will, this will include stopping mass immigration, not having to implement laws drawn up by the EU, not having to pay Billions into a scheme that we have no real control of how that money is spent and that is accountable to the electorate, I’m not naïve, and realise that our government is not like that at the moment, but post an out vote they would not have a higher power (EU) that they have to obey, but just us the electorate.
    The current Fear campaign being instigated and run by a bunch of unpatriotic politicians (yes Dave I mean you), with vested interests in staying, whether it be pensions, future appointments to EU jobs or just high finance, seem to be selling the nation out, and to anyone who goes along with it, it will be too late to rue your decision after were fully integrated into the EU, and have no say whatsoever.
    Be careful what you vote for, the future of your country is at stake.
    I am a patriotic British man, who will be voting “OUT” to save my country and the future generations who will live in it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jenbeaton says:

      Thank you for your contribution -and I’m really pleased to have your comments as collectively we have provided more of a debate that the paperwork that came through the door.

      Your points are those raised by my other half -you can imagine the level of debate in our house at the moment! I am patriotic, I am very proud to be British. I supported my husband during his time in the British Army, both at home and overseas. But I don’t think that is something that is entirely incompatible with supporting the EU too.

      Sovereignty IS a key issue for me too. I think if we were to come out of the EU it would be a struggle, and never a complete ‘divorce’. There will still be EU legislation that we will have to abide by and conform to, and that we will have no forum to complain about, vote against or modify. For example, if any business deals with EU based businesses, employs EU members of staff, has investments or branches or depots outside of the UK mainland, or exports to the EU, there will be a wealth of legislation that we will have to conform to. This is not something to be ‘scared’ of, or part of a fear campaign, it’s just the facts of trading with other countries and employing EU workers, and exporting product overseas.

      As a nation we do seem to be something of a stickler for the rules, and adhere to every speck of EU Legislation that comes our way almost immediately. Other nations appear to take their time in phasing in legislation in a time and manner that is more appropriate to their circumstances. There is no reason why our government could reassert itself when dealing with the EU.

      I guess I require not only the referendum, but a reassessment, indeed reassertion of our government’s relationship with the EU in order to improve. I don’ for one minute think that it’s perfect, but I do believe in the functionality of the institution and it’s future.

      Thanks again for taking the time to read my post, but also to contribute, it’s appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Andy says:

    Aren’t political parties by their very definition meant to pursue their own objectives?
    As you state, there are plenty of resources for comparative studies of the two sides of the argument, this is not and was never intended to be that.

    Do you really expect to walk into your history teacher loving Volvo dealership and expect to be provided with a glowing review of how good the new Audi is?!

    Like

    1. jenbeaton says:

      Haha! I love the idea that I’d buy a Volvo from a dealership. I’ve never worked in the private sector, it’s granny’s inherited ‘little runner’ from 1987 or Gumtree for me!

      (But yes, jolly good point, I would counter and say that political parties can indeed pursue their own agenda, I’d expect them to stick their logo on it if they were. When it’s ‘The Government’ it ain’t so straight forward.)

      Have a good weekend,

      Jen

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Hannah says:

    There is actually another ‘leave’ campaign leaflet in the works, which is also government funded. Both sides got to choose the timings of their pamphleting a while, and maybe together they might make a balanced argument.. or not.

    Like

    1. jenbeaton says:

      Here’s hoping! But wouldn’t be handy of the info was altogether in one place?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hannah says:

        I think it would be handier to publish in one play online at a much lower cost, but who’s to question burocracy?

        Liked by 1 person

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