The EU Referendum and all that Jazz

I want to tell you all why I voted to remain in the EU and why I think the EU is a good thing for music. The Referendum could mean big changes and music will be affected so this is what I think.

At the moment UK musicians can travel and work freely in Europe (and European musicians can come here freely too). This will be much harder if we leave the EU because musicians will have to apply for work permits, visas, complete tax forms, etc. Venues in Europe booking UK musicians will also experience this bureaucracy and be less inclined to hire UK musicians and bands. This is the chief reason why the Musicians’ Union is persuading its members to vote remain.

But just as important is this: music, especially jazz, is something which transcends borders and it is culturally beneficial for musicians from different countries to work together as well as for their audiences. A great example is the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra founded by Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said involving young musicians from the Israeli and Palestinian people. I have regularly played with musicians form Spain, Italy, Sweden, France, Germany, and Austria and also from outside Europe especially USA and South America. In this way music contributes to building connections between nations and although Europe is a small part of the world it is a first step for UK musicians to contribute to a global culture and economy in a positive way.

The Europe of the past with the terrible world wars and then the awful divisions of the cold war (where East and West European nations had nuclear missiles pointing at each other) has now been replaced with a vision of a Europe based on peaceful co-existence, co-operation free trade and freedom of movement. That is an extremely powerful and positive alternative vision to one where the UK might draw back into itself, and go it alone.

Sure the EU needs constant reform but so does our own national government and there is a lot to take issue with in the UK: we have imperfect democracy with un- proportional representation and an unelected second chamber (House of Lords).

And the debate over immigration (or rather non-debate) is descending into a very nasty portrayal of immigrants as a threat and something to fear. Nigel Farage’s poster of Syrian refugees queueing to get in and Michael Gove’s claim that Turkey is about to join the EU and flood Britain is false and dangerous rhetoric. Conversely, some on the Remain side are starting to address concerns over immigration (somewhat belatedly) by calling for the proper investment in jobs, housing and services in those areas where there is most need and where the pressure is greatest. (Only 7% of the UK land is built on so there is space to develop.) That is beginning of a proper response.

As a jazz musician I can pretty much walk into a jazz club anywhere in the world and jam with the other musicians. Music is an international language as they say and I say : let’s keep to that spirit and not pull up the draw bridge.


Thanks for your time and support in the past and I hope to see you at future jazz events in or out of the EU.

Terry Seabrook