Tag Archives: referendum

390. The Rick Thompson Report: Hard Brexit / U.S. Election

This is a conversation with my dad about recent news, including a Brexit update, the US presidential election, Obama’s plans to send people to Mars and back and more…

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A reminder about the anecdote competition: Listen & vote here teacherluke.co.uk/2016/10/07/387-lep-anecdote-competition-entries-please-listen-vote/

I know this isn’t for everyone, but check out the anecdotes which have been sent to me. You might be pleasantly surprised. There are some great little stories in there and a lot of people are really showing off their good English. I’m very proud of everyone who got involved.

You can get all the competition entries on your phone like a podcast with this RSS feed: audioboom.com/users/1917559/boos.rss

Just enter that link into the search function in your podcast app and you’ll find it (including the iTunes store)

Then listen to the entries when you’re out and about. You could mark the entries you like by favouriting them (most podcast apps allow you to add a star to the episodes you like) then vote later.

I want to say a massive thank you to all the LEPsters in the comment section of my website recently, particularly all the amazing feedback they’ve been writing in response to the competition entries. I’m really impressed. Some LEPsters, particularly Olga, have written individual feedback for every single competition entry there. Generally the response has been absolutely brilliant and I urge you to get involved too.

I know it’s difficult to listen to all the entries because there are so many, but check them out and you’ll see that there are some really entertaining stories there. The other night I walked home from a restaurant for about an hour, just listening to the competition entries. I was going to take the metro but I decided to walk all the way because I wanted to keep listening. I’m really pleased that so many people got involved and told their stories, even if it was difficult.

Give yourself a big pat on the back if you sent me an entry, or if you have voted or left feedback. Some of you are feeling a bit embarrassed because you don’t like the sound of your own voices or you’re comparing yourselves to people you think are better, but never mind all that – everyone did really well so congratulations.

The voting in round 1 ends on 21 October, so you have another week left.

The Rick Thompson Report

Now, let’s move onto this episode, which is called The Rick Thompson Report. Yesterday I spoke to my dad on FaceTime and asked him to give us a report on some recent news. We ended up talking about a few things, including a Brexit update, some stuff about Barack Obama’s plans to send a manned mission to Mars and my dad’s thoughts on the US Presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. I know some of you have been keen to find out what my dad has to say on that particular subject after I talked about it in the last two episodes of this podcast.

Because we’re talking about politics in this episode, I am sure that some of you will disagree with what you’re going to hear, which is fine, but if you’re planning on writing comments expressing your disagreement then I just encourage you to try to articulate those thoughts properly, explaining your reasons and developing your points, rather than just writing some angry knee-jerk reaction.

That’s if you disagree. If you agree with us, then of course you can write about that too.

Generally, I hope you respond in some way. You’ll hear us comment on some global events, and it’s quite interesting to me how we all seem to have different versions of those events depending on which media outlet we are exposed to. For example, the narrative about global events in the UK media is probably quite different to the narrative in the Russian media or the Chinese media. We are all subject to media bias, but let’s try to focus on the simple truths and facts at the heart of any story. That’s easier said than done, but I guess a starting point is to realise that things aren’t always the way they are portrayed in the media in any country. There’s always a certain amount of bias.

Anyway, that’s enough of an introduction. Now, I’ll let you listen to the Rick Thompson Report, with Rick Thompson.

*Conversation*

So that’s our conversation, I hope you found it interesting. As I said before, I look forward to reading your comments if you have any.

Don’t forget to get listen and vote in round 1 of the anecdote competition.

I got a message about why I don’t get many comments from Chinese listeners – apparently it’s because so many web services are blocked in China, and that included Disqus – my comments system, but my website is visible. So the Chinese listeners can listen to the podcast but can’t comment on the website unless they’re using proxy servers or something. So, China I just want to say hello and I wonder what you’re thinking. I’m assuming that you like the podcast because you’re my #1 country. Anyway, hello China, and hello everyone else too.

Thanks for listening and I’ll speak to you again soon. Bye!
rick-thompson-report

Hello, how are you? How’s the weather? Wait, there’s no time for chit chat. We have a lot of things to cover so let’s get straight down to it. This is a vocabulary episode about the language of Brexit. See below for all the vocabulary.

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In the last episode you heard a conversation about Brexit with my Dad and it’s very encouraging to see lots of responses and comments from LEPsters about that. There’s definitely more to talk about and I’d very much like to talk freely about this subject again.

But now I want to focus on language. This topic involves so many things. It’s not just specific to the UK and the EU. It is connected to many other big areas like economics, political science and immigration and there is a lot of meaty vocab involved. What do I mean by meaty vocab? Just items of vocabulary that are quite substantial in terms of their meaning but also the significance they carry. These are big words about big things, and are therefore important enough to look at in more detail.

So that’s what this is about – using the subject of Brexit as a case study for learning some vocabulary items relating to economics, politics, lawmaking, immigration and more.

Where do these words come from?
– University notes from this semester’s classes.
– Conversation with my Dad in the last episode.
– Articles I’ve been reading on The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Week, The Telegraph and The BBC.

Collocations

One note about learning vocabulary – it’s good to remember that words always hang around with other words and it’s useful to be aware of which words go together. When you learn a noun for example, like the word ‘rhetoric’, you should learn which adjectives, verbs or prepositions usually go with it, and then learn words in groups – for example,  the word ‘rhetoric’ – do you do rhetoric, make rhetoric, or what? What are the most common adjectives with rhetoric? Is it ‘good’ rhetoric, or something else, like ‘colourful’ rhetoric or something? You start to realise that words on their own are no good to you – you can’t use words unless you learn all their collocates.

By the way, we ‘use, resort to or engage in’ rhetoric, and the adjectives are things like powerful, political, and even ‘empty’ rhetoric.

I have used a collocations dictionary in my planning, so listen out for collocations for the words I’m talking about in this episode.

THE VOCABULARY OF BREXIT

General

referendum (pl. referendums / referenda) = a vote by the electorate on a single question. The result of the referendum dictates the outcome of a particular decision.
to call a referendum / to hold a referendum / to put something to a referendum
When is a referendum usually called? What kind of decision? What’s the difference between a referendum and an election?

sovereignty = the authority of a state to govern itself, supreme power, independence
have sovereignty / give up sovereignty / claim sovereignty / undermine sovereignty / a loss of sovereignty
adj = sovereign, e.g. a sovereign nation, sovereign debt
democratic / undemocratic / anti-democratic / democratic deficit
Is the EU undemocratic? It depends on how you feel about it. It depends on your ideological position. For example, most of the eurosceptics are neo-liberals who believe in the power of free-market economics. They generally don’t like regulation because they believe it goes against the natural process of market forces. They distrust the regulators, and appear to disregard the benefits or purpose of it.
Bureaucracy / bureaucrats / bureaucratic
What is the EU? europa.eu/about-eu/basic-information/about/index_en.htm Is the EU undemocratic? www.quora.com/In-what-ways-is-the-current-European-Union-undemocratic
It’s easy to be biased (unfairly prejudiced against something) depending on how you view the European project as a whole. There are always several ways to look at the EU – several points of view, and those points of view will involve different types of language. E.g. if you’re a Eurosceptic you’ll describe the EU with very negative language, whereas pro-EU people will use more positive language, even though they are essentially saying the same thing. This is political rhetoric – ways of talking about something in order to persuade people to think in a certain way. Using certain words will imply certain emotions and associations. E.g. Describing the movement of migrants into the UK as a “tidal wave” of immigration. It’s language designed to create fear and hatred. The Eurosceptics use all sorts of emotional and dramatic language to talk about the EU, but in my opinion it’s mainly just rhetoric, and the same things could be said in far less dramatic language.

E.g. “The EU is composed of faceless and unelected bureaucrats who undermine the sovereignty of the UK by imposing petty legislation which stifles British businesses and kills the spirit of this great nation that I love.”

Let’s break that down.

“Faceless bureaucrats” – ok they’re not faceless of course. This is not iRobot. They have faces. Don’t worry. They’re all human beings. The reason we don’t know their faces is because they’re not on the news all the time, because they don’t have to be. They’re not there to get our attention or sell themselves like other politicians. They’re there to do boring things like propose legislation which could be used to help the EU do the things it does – which are mostly boring but useful, like laws to protect the environment or something. Fair enough, they are bureaucrats. They are lawmakers. Not that exiting.

“Unelected” – ok fair enough the EU commissioners are not elected. But even the UK government has a lot of bureaucrats who aren’t elected. There are undemocratic elements to most democratic governments. The Queen, for example, is a very important part of our constitutional framework, but she’s not elected. She’s not even chosen by people who we elected. There’s absolutely nothing democratic about the monarchy, but the eurosceptics rarely talk about the undemocratic parts of the UK’s government. Again, fair enough – the Queen is not involved in creating legislation (except for some routine powers which aren’t really used) and the EU commission seems to be the driving force behind the creation of new laws, but the other EU institutions are made up of elected representatives, so it’s not completely undemocratic. Also, the member states all agreed to the terms of the EU when they signed the treaties, so it’s not like the whole arrangement has been forced on us. So, it may be true that some of the lawmakers in Brussels are not directly elected, but is that a good or bad thing? It’s debatable.

“The EU undermines sovereignty by imposing petty legislation.”

The project was set up to ensure social and economic stability for the benefit of all the member states, who willingly signed the treaties and agreed to give a certain amount of control to the project. That’s the point of the project. And the spirit in which it has been carried out has been one of peaceful cooperation for mutual benefit. It’s unfair to label the EU as some kind of evil empire.

There is a lot of legislation, and some of it seems a bit petty (for example the laws regulating the shape of vegetables) but generally the legislation from the EU is imposed for good reason – e.g. to protect the rights of workers, to ensure that products are safe, to make sure customers are not being ripped off, to standardise equipment and services between countries (making life far easier for exporters), to establish environmental legislation (for everyone’s good) for things like clean air and water, and to help the poorer or less developed regions of the EU (such as parts of Scotland Wales Northern Ireland and northern England). What’s wrong with that?

Also, the word ‘imposed’ sounds pejorative (negative). In fact the law is imposed, but we accept it. They’re not forcing us to accept these laws at gunpoint.

Then, finally the bit about “this great nation that I love” – that’s nationalistic rhetoric – because most people love their country, so if you bang on about how great the nation is, it’s likely to inspire people. If you’re seen to be doing things out of a love for the country, how can you be doing the wrong thing? As long as you love the country and you think Britain is great, that’s what matters right? E.g. “I think we should get out of the EU, putting hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk, causing years of uncertainty that could seriously affect our economy – because Britain is a great nation!” Well, it might not be so great if we leave the EU, which is our project too – not some foreign power. We are the EU as well, so it’s not a foreign invader.

Anyway, back to the language.

Politics

a manifesto = a public declaration of policy promises – political parties publish manifestos before elections. A manifesto contains a set of promises, such as “if we get into power we will raise the minimum wage”.
backbenchers = senior members of a political party who are not in cabinet positions but who have a lot of influence over the general direction of the party. They tend to sit on the back benches of the House of Commons.
rhetoric = persuasive language or persuasive speaking. E.g. political rhetoric – the language used by politicians to persuade people.
E.g. statements like:
“The EU looks like a burning building but there’s an exit door and I suggest on June 23, we take it” (Nigel Farage)
“This is a moment for Britain to be brave, to reach out – not to hug the skirts of nurse in Brussels and refer all decisions to someone else.” (Boris Johnson)

People

Eurosceptics / a sceptic / to be sceptical of something (in North American English it’s skeptic)
Brexiteers
proponent / supporter of the EU
proponents / supporters of the leave campaign
opponents
those who are for or against
politicians / politics / political / policy
bureaucrats / bureaucracy / bureaucratic / red tape


Legal Details

a treaty / treaties = agreements between nations which are formally concluded and ratified
laws / legislation / controls / rules
regulations –
binding, must be directly applied as law
directives – set binding goals which must be achieved, but it’s up to the nation state to enact their own laws
to comply with regulations / to be subject to regulations
the Working Time Directive
to opt-out of something
to opt-into something
to get concessions / to make concessions

Economics / Finance

The budget = an annual estimate of revenue and spending (it’s basically a spending plan)
to contribute / to make contributions
EU spending (it goes mainly on creating economic and social cohesion in the region, which is the original plan, working together to create economic and social cohesion to prevent us all having a huge and messy fight again – another large area of spending is on sustainable development, environmental protection, agriculture and support for farmers)
net / gross
2015
UK contributed £13bn
We received £4.5bn in spending
That’s net contribution of £8.5bn
It’s less than 0.5% GDP
It’s 7% of what we spent on the NHS
We spend waaaaay less on the EU budget than on the UK budget. We give far more money to our own administration every year. All the money goes towards good things! Certainly, the bureaucrats receive expenses and salaries, but so do any administrative staff in similar positions in member states. They could probably do with a pay cut, but it doesn’t mean the whole thing is f*cked, does it?
rebate (it would have been about 18bn but Thatcher negotiated a rebate)
Eurozone
currency fluctuation
*there are more financial terms, like risk, confidence, investment and so on, which I’ve put into the next category

Trade / Investment

free trade
trade agreements
a free trade block
goods, services and people
tariffs (tariffs are imposed on exports and imports)
manufacturers
the gateway to Europe
risk
confidence
investments
finance
hedge-funds
a tax haven
a safe haven

Immigration

the workforce
the welfare state
benefits
housing
education
the NHS
unemployment
illegal immigrants
economic migrants
open door policy
security
intelligence networks
home-grown terrorism

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351. BREXIT: Should the UK leave the EU? (A Conversation with my Dad)

Hello everyone, I hope you’re well. Here is an episode featuring a conversation with my Dad about Brexit – The UK’s referendum on the EU. Finally! I’ve been mentioning this for a while so here it is. You’ve seen it in the news, you’ve read it in the papers – the UK is having a referendum on membership of the European Union and who knows, we might end up leaving. It’s all over the news and the internet in the UK at the moment, everyone’s talking about it – you can’t escape it and it’s going to get more and more intense the closer we get to 23 June, the date of the referendum. I’ve had plenty of messages from listeners asking me to talk about this on the podcast, so here we go.

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Brexit: A Complex Issue

I’ve been wondering how to approach this topic for ages. It’s actually a very complex issue which I would like to cover properly, taking into account the different arguments in some detail in order to bring some genuine insight to the issue. I think that one of the problems with the subject of the EU and Brexit is that the issues are genuinely difficult to understand, and it takes proper effort and patience to understand them fully. I think it’s fair to say that these days people just don’t feel they have the time or the willingness to look deeply at the issues, and instead just arrive at their opinions based on an emotional reaction. There’s little tolerance for nuance or broad-mindedness it seems. So, I could just skate over the issues and cover this in just one short episode – but you know, I don’t like to do that on this podcast, and in fact podcasting as a medium is generally a great way to have an extended conversation on a topic. You rarely get extended, natural conversations on TV or on the internet about subjects like this. More and more there’s a pressure to make TV broadcasts short and quick, but as a result some of the subtleties are lost. There’s a tendency towards soundbites and short emotion-driven arguments. As a result, some of the more complex arguments are not heard. Certainly with the issue of Brexit in the media – our emotions are being played upon all the time – it’s either ‘fear’ like in the case of David Cameron who suggested that a Brexit could lead to World War 3 or it’s patriotic nationalism on a ridiculous level, like Boris Johnson comparing the EU to Hitler and saying that Britain could be the heroes of Europe. That’s all highly emotional political rhetoric. But let’s have a normal conversation about it shall we?

I think there are several ways to deal with the Brexit subject on this podcast. I could start with the vocabulary and terminology – because there’s a lot of specific language involved in this, when you consider that the whole thing relates to issues like the economy, immigration, sovereignty, legislative procedure, social policy, the environment, security and the workings of the EU institutions. So, I could take a bottom up approach and start with the terminology or the language of Brexit. Or I could go with a top down approach and just talk about the subject. In the end I’ve decided to go with the latter – and that’s to just jump right into the topic here by having a conversation about it. And who better to talk to than my Dad, Rick.

So this is the first thing you’ll hear on the subject – a conversation with my Dad – before I expect to go into Brexit in a bit more detail in some later episodes.

Now, you’ve probably heard my Dad on this podcast before. I thought it could be interesting for you to hear on this podcast a conversation between a well-informed, articulate and intelligent man, and his father. (ha ha)

 

Just one final point here before we listen to the conversation. The day before I spoke to my Dad for the podcast, I posted a question on social media, saying “My Dad’s going to be on the podcast talking about Brexit – do you have any questions?” I got loads of questions from interested LEPsters. Thank you very much if you wrote one. What I did was to consolidate all your queries and points into a just a few simple questions which I then used as a basis for this discussion. So, I don’t actually read out your questions or mention any names, but thank you for your questions – I think we managed to cover a lot of them in our conversation. Anything we didn’t deal with, I’ll come back to later on.

Alright, so without any further ado, let’s now hear the conversation with my Dad Rick about the UK’s referendum on Europe, and here we go.

*Conversation Begins*

The questions below are a summary of the questions I received from LEPsters on Facebook.

1. WHAT IS BREXIT?

2. WHY HAS THE BREXIT QUESTION COME UP NOW?

3. WHAT ARE THE MAIN ARGUMENTS FOR AND AGAINST BREXIT?

  • The ‘leave’ campaign
  • The ‘remain’ campaign
  • What are the main arguments of the ‘leave’ campaign?
  • What are the main arguments of the ‘remain’ campaign?

4. WHAT WOULD BE THE CONSEQUENCES? (I don’t think we really answered this – so I’ll come back to it)

5. WHAT DO WE THINK PERSONALLY?

*Conversation Ends*

I said there at the end that it’s all a bit complicated. While recording that interview I was thinking that it was bound to be very difficult to follow. Actually, after listening back to that conversation, I think we managed to deal with it in a fairly clear way, especially my Dad, who is very articulate and well-informed on the subject.

I have a variety of listeners with varying levels of knowledge of this subject, so I’m sure some of you followed that without too many problems whereas others might have been a bit lost at times.

So, I do think it’s worth talking more about Brexit on the podcast and I plan to go through some of the key vocabulary associated with this and also revisit the main arguments in forthcoming episodes. Also, as we move closer to the referendum date I am sure more things will happen in the news and it will be interesting to keep an eye on the opinion polls. So watch out for more Brexit-related commentary in the near future.

As ever I am very keen for you to express your opinions on the website. So please leave your comments. What do you think? What do you think about my Dad’s opinions in this episode, and how would you vote in the referendum?
Should the UK leave the EU or should the UK remain a part of the EU?

The LEP EU POLL

In fact, let’s do an LEP EU Referendum of our own, shall we? I wonder how the LEPsters would vote in this referendum.
I have opened up a Brexit poll on my website (you can see it below) – so please visit and cast your vote. It’s anonymous and you don’t need to add your email address.

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Thanks very much for listening and take care! BYE!

Luke

Comments & Questions from LEPsters on Facebook

General questions and points of view

Luciano: What is BRETIX??!!
Elizabeth: Right now the UK has some bargaining power. Instead of leaving they should use that to see if they can’t get the worst transgressions off their back. Right?
Roland:  UK has been EU member since 1973. I am wondering why did brexit question come up now? Isn’t it because of the massive migration problem in continental Europe and part of Uk population tend to mix up the two different issues (migration vs. uk-eu renegotiation)?
Mollie:  Happy Birthday , Teacher Luke !
Luciana:  I’d like to know what is the real motivation behind the pro exit campaigners. Will they have any personal gain? Or is it only an ideological matter?
Alessandro:   Hello everybody, hi Luke, I’ve spoken to many Britons so far and all of them are for remaining in Europe. Is there anybody who’s really going to vote leave? In my view many are unable to decide what to do because they have different feelings or there are different things they want. My question is: is the referendum ripping apart British society?
PROs & CONS
What are the main arguments for and against us leaving?
Ricardo:   Hi Luke, my name’s Ricardo and I’m from Brazil. for that Reason I don’t understand why Uk still have a Queen and what’s pro and con for UK’s to be membership of EU.
Aritz:  Hello Richard! Hope you are fine!
My question: why do you think it’ll be better for the UK to stay or to go out? (depending on your point of view).
I’d like a precise answer, and nothing vague please. I’m from Spain and I live and work in London, so I am deeply interested in this issue.Thank you very much!!!
CONSEQUENCES

Anna :  If the UK finally decides to abandon the EU, would it still be a member of Schengen area? Yaron:   I would like to know how it going to affect you personally, if UK will leave (as English man who currently live and work in France)… In addition, I would find it interesting if you will discuss whether UK will leave the EU, would it be the start of the end of the EU. ie, would other countries will also leave the EU eventually (maybe not France and Germany… But other nations)

Kenichi : I would you like to summarise how people supporting the Conservative party or the labour one think about the Brexit. And If the Brexit happens, what would happen on daily goods imported from other EU countries such as wine, beer, sausage, etc. The reason why I’m asking is because I suppose the UK has been getting a lot of benefits from the cheaper trade as a member of EU so far, and those benefits would be lost after the Brexit.

Robert:  If UK leave UE, it will mean that citizens other EU other country (for example Polish) have to leave UK? What do you think. If UK leave UE it would be end of EU?

PERSONAL OPINION

Anna:  Luke, what is your personal attitude towards this issue? How are you going to vote?

Jairo:   I am going to borrow a question from BBC News and ask your dad :

What do you think the EU referendum says about Britain ? ,
tell us in ” six ” words 😊.
Adam:    However, I think I know how you are going to vote, but am curious to hear your father’s point of view, cheers
Piedad:  What will happen with EU citizens already living in UK?
Gabor:  and the same question from a different point of view, what will happen with the UK citizens living abroad in the EU?
Jean:   what will be the real consequences if UK choice to exits from UE… Try, please, to explain us this complicated topic with some examples. Thanks 😉
Abdelhmide:   Hi Luke , my question is ; if the UK leave the EU will you would need visas to go to EU ??Thanks
Other comments from listeners
Burak: Dont exit from EU ..
Adam :  I believe that if Brexit actually happens, the EU will then browbeat the UK to accept some new treaties like those of Switzerland or Norway so that the UK wouldn’t be totally free of the EU anyway. Moreover, this argument is actually being skated around by the Brexit campaigners. Not that I am particularly fond of the EU myself, but still don’t think there is an alternative to it than just being part of the block and fight for a shift.
Nataliya :  Boris Johnson VS David Cameron on this matter
Francesco :  I’m gonna answer you with a Pink Floyd quote: “Together we stand divided we fall”.
Konstantinos : Hello Luke. Thanks for asking.. I don’t think that the Euro-zone has any future in case that the citizens of the United Kingdom, would like / take the decision to continue their destiny as a country, outside from the Europe. The question there is, what are the advantages or disadvantages from this kind of catalytic decision? ..and what’s will be going on with a large group of people who live and work in the UK? Of course, and as we all understand, there’s a domino under the possibility of the negative answer, but from the other side, the British have the opportunity with that referendum to think finally, what are their interests for them and for their country.. My point of view..(?) I think the result surprise us positively.. The sure is that would be a historical moment for the England, which the humanity will remember forever.. and by the way If I have a title earlier in advance for this mini article that would be “The Funeral of the Europe”..
Francesco:   It’s more of an opinion than a question, but here it is: i think it would be really bad for us all if you left the EU and the UK would lose a great deal!