Times have changed for the better since the Jarrow March

The marchers from Sunderland to London for the cause of leaving the EU are inspired by the Jarrow March, but what a contrast.

Thursday, 21st March 2019, 09:19 am
Updated Thursday, 21st March 2019, 09:23 am

They leave the region that has transformed since the poverty stricken, harsh, cruel times of Jarrow. They do not know of the hardship suffered by their ancestors, the large scale unemployment, ill health, damp cold houses many without running water, no WCs, only outside netties.

I remember hard times, the war, the bomb flattened streets, industrial buildings, destroyed railways and took 750 lives in Sunderland.

The well-dressed Exit marchers will have centrally heated homes with kitchens, bathrooms, are well fed, have TV, comfortable furniture, mobile phones, a car and supported by the NHS, relatively good education and social services.

These are achieved through the jobs created by those who have invested in machinery, technology and the provision of supporting services all through the ease of trading and communicating with the 500million people in the EU market. Sever these links at your peril.

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I served on Sunderland Council and witnessed the rundown of coal mining and the demise of the Wear shipyards.

Soon after we joined the EEC in 1972, Nissan was the first to come to the rescue.

Look around, you will see many more small and large businesses who rely on membership of the EU directly and indirectly for the sales, customers, for their staff and in the NHS, the food supply chain and in hospitality.

To enable this there has to be rules and agreement on standards of safety, hygiene, disease protection and working conditions for employees.

All have advanced since 1972; no one has complete control.

There has to be some give-and-take and a supranational courts to administer justice when rules are broken. These are for the common good.

The marchers want to return to secure jobs, a growing economy, good health provision, education and social services.

If they have their way all these will deteriorate. World Trade Organisation is not a simple lift and put option. It will take a decade to get back to where we are today. The marchers are not walking for a lower standard of living. They neglect the views of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Today we have a bitterly divided country. The only solution is to make the facts clear concerning options to leave or stay. Then an honest thought through referendum.

Only that will heal the wounds inflicted in the narrow margin poll of June 2016.

We can reform the EU as a member. The UK has many friends in Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, the Baltic States, Portugal and Spain who support EU reform.

Norway has no say in the EU.

Instead of arguing amongst ourselves, we can get on with key issues including defence/security, cyber crime, immigration, the environment and climate change.

Paul Wesley Weightman