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Eurosceptic Bloggers

Friday, October 22, 2004

Britain and Europe, unforgettable past, unavoidable future

The Guardian yesterday published a lecture by Philip Stevens on Britain and Europe. It is full of the kind of irrelevant general commentary we come to expect from Nation surrendering Europhiles. A few examples are as follows.

The history of the past 50 years weighs just as heavily on the present. Coming to terms with what is now known as the European Union demanded that Britain also come to terms with the retreat from past glory. Political leaders have shunned the challenge.
Its all the fault of political leaders past and present for not being as clever as our correspondent.
Dean Acheson is often quoted for his famous remark about Britains search for a post imperial role.
Only the Foreign Office is looking for a post imperial role. The rest of us are getting on with our lives mostly happy with the way things are. Jobs and Hospitals are actually far more important.
France and Germany saw the creation of the Iron and Steel Community as vital, in Jean Monnets words, to exorcise the past. Britain was determined to cling on to its history.
Unlike some of our European cousins, our past is worth clinging to. Germany had a need to exorcise the past, we did not. Its almost as if he is saying that the project is difficult but we deserve it. It is our sackcloth and ashes.
Our political culture does not help. Anyone who has spent time watching our politicians brawling across the House of Commons despatch box will know what I mean. At Westminster, politics is combat - preferably mortal. There are winners and losers; compromise represents dishonourable defeat. Ministers take the same instincts to Brussels. Our European partners are comfortable with the politics of give-and-take.
That Mr Stevens is democracy. In Britain we expect our political representatives to fight to the death for what they believe in, for what we put them in parliament to do. The European consensus far from being a gentlemanly way to conduct business is the unchecked arrogance of a political elite. We alone have a right to decide, the people are not important. If power is more important than policy, compromise is easy.
But it is still quite hard to find in the rest of Whitehall any real sense that Europe is an opportunity rather than a threat. In France, European policy is an extension of domestic policy. In Britain, it often seems at very best a necessary interference.
In what sense exactly is it an opportunity. Just repeating this several times will not make it true. Besides it is worse than a necessary interference it is a totally unnecessary one. The European Union and its problems is in no way unavoidable, no matter what the title says and the lecture gives absolutely not one concrete reason why we should be a part of it. Meaningless cliche is as far as it goes. Why can they never construct a decent argument in favour of the EU. Maybe it does not exist.

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