Sunday 4 December could likely mark the beginning of the end of the EU, again. Two events occur on this day: the first is a referendum in Italy and the second is the re-run of elections in Austria. Unlike the Brexit vote, the opinion polls are already showing that the anti-EU option is likely to win in both votes.
In Italy, a referendum on centralising political power in order to make change easier to implement is looking very likely to return a no result. If this happens, the Prime Minister has promised to do a David Cameron and resign. It could also lead to the collapse or bailout of the Italian banking system (already struggling with high levels of bad debt). Such a collapse could in turn force Italy out of the Euro or even destroy the Euro.
In Austria, Norbert Hofer of the Freedom Party is leading (albeit only just) in the opinion polls and could become the President of Austria. His campaign is to put Austria first and end the “welcoming culture” towards immigration.
Somehow, Brexit might not be the worst thing to happen to the EU project in 2016.
Two years ago, I had just started a new job, it was a fancy career job which paid a salary and everything! For the first time in my life, I had an "adult" income stream coming in. And for the first few months I did not give a full tithe (10%), as Christian tradition suggests. There were a whole host of reasons for this in my head, most related to the uncertainty of what expenses I would be incurring and what the taxman would take from me (always too much).
For the next three months, I worried about money a lot. It was on my thoughts almost daily and my income, though much bigger than anything I'd ever earned before, just didn't seem enough for what was required. December was the third month and Christmas was a struggle not to panic at how expensive the festive season is.
Over the Christmas holidays, my conscience finally won through and I was convicted that as my God had given me a salary, so I had to make giving my first priority. So in fear of what might happen and what unplanned expenses would be incurred, I increased my giving to the full tithe.
Almost overnight, my money worries vanished. This surprised me. It should not have. For my story is not unique nor is it out the ordinary, it is the economy of God working as it always does.
For the last decade or so, come general election or referendum, there’s one comment that I always hear. More than Donald Trump, the upcoming housing market crash take 2 and the life and times of J-Dog Corbyn, it makes me worried for the future of democracy and Western civilisation.
“I wish stupid people didn’t get the vote.” It is said as a ‘joke’, you know, the one that will never get a laugh and is completely true but there’s enough residual guilt there to force it across as a lame attempt at ‘wild make believe’. Invariable, the person saying this wishes it was no fantasy, it is always an expression of a genuine desire to limit the voting rights of a certain section of the population.
It involves a line, drawn in the sand, between us and them. Us are the enlightened, the professional classes, the “educated” and “well read”, the “thinkers”, the eaters of avocado toast and the buyers of the Guardian.