I'm losing the will to live with the EU referendum campaign. Watching politicians, experts and even celebrities sharing the latest soundbites and half-baked statistics whilst shedding their previously valued veneer of respect is often entertaining but it's currently worse than watching a car crash in slow-motion.
What really bothers me is the complete avoidance of the key topics most people I converse with wish to discuss. All campaigners are so keen to steer our thinking towards their next half baked statistic that in their arrogance they remove the opportunity for free speech which might avoid the unthinkable - which is playing out like some sinister horror movie across the Atlantic right now.
The single biggest reason for Donald Trump's appeal is not his success, his offer of something different or his manifesto. It's something much simpler. Trump offers a forum for American voters to voice their concerns, speak their fears and discuss their opinions. And we should find that rather scary.
You see people are actually capable of independent thought, despite the prevailing view of campaigners in the EU Referendum here in Britain. We do have concerns, views, opinions and - shock horror - some of them might be informed and educated. Ignoring them doesn't make them go away - it just polarises opinion and pushes such concerns into extreme territory - which is actively encouraged at present in the way the question of immigration is viewed by the Remain campaign. But unless such concerns are aired, discussed and evaluated in a moderate forum, people are either pushed or pulled to the extremes, which invariably offer the opportunity to do so - at great cost to the Centre ground which is daily losing moderate voters. The irony is, political correctness, and political arrogance are costing this debate it's moderate centre ground.
Personally I have two very simple questions I would appreciate an answer to before 23rd June. Firstly, the question of economic migration. At the very mention of the word "migration", half of social media have added me to their "Crazy UKIP Voters" list and every other word I might add is ignored. But branding me a racist prohibits me from discussing this question sensibly, and I am utterly uncomfortable with either the far right or far left groups who would encourage me to voice my concerns - then offer an unpalatable response.
For me it's about numbers. Numbers of people in the country, a country already heavily populated, a country which has suffered a massive cut in public spending already, and a country in which public services are already trimmed to the bone. I would not expect the people already struggling in this country to have their expectations, support and services cut further because we have an open door policy.
And that's it. That's my concern.
I wish to know how this might be addressed - but not by an anti-muslim, anti-immigrant or anti anybody politician, by someone who respects this as a reasonable concern. It's not loaded, I'm not a racist and agree people are not numbers, but when there is a six week wait for GP appointments, when my son's Statutory SEN support is required to help teach new arrivals English and when I hear Health Visitors have case loads of 8000 children it IS a valid concern.
My second concern is more of a question, which absurdly no one seems to be able (or willing) to answer.
What is the net cashflow to the EU from the UK? How much do we pay them, and how much do we gain in subsidies and investments? I find it hard to fathom how someone as allegedly well-educated and well paid as George Osborne is completely unable to ever answer the first part of that question. In the news we have heard wildly different figures from £130m to £330m per week. If my son can cope with AS Core 1 Maths then seriously, can these "experts" not provide me with an answer? And whilst I appreciate A Level Statistics is probably significantly harder now than in George Osborne's sixth form days, he really should make more effort than his recent offerings.
Joking aside, this referendum has demonstrated clearly the insidious results of limiting free speech, of directing people, fobbing them off with "road closed" signs on discussions that people *need* to have. The result is a Carnival of Animals - or a Chimps Tea Party might be more precise. In a democracy, you ought to respect your electorate, even if you are unable to control them and Free Speech is one of the few weapons we have against extremism.