Monday, November 13, 2006
A Eurosceptic Speaks!
My apologies for the rather long gap between posts - unforgivable, apparently, in the really committed blogging community! However, the day on which we have a bona fide eurosceptic personality (google him if you don't believe me - he has some modest fame!) visit and speak to us seems a good opportunity to update.
Lord Pearson gave a perfectly sound eurosceptic case. Europe binds us with plentiful, not always necessary, laws and takes loads of our money. It's been the mantra of the euroscpetic for years. Sadly, though, it was ultimately communicated with too little dynamism and a voice projection that desperately needed a microphone. I was a little surprised, since at lunch (the good lord himself, HM, GG, Stembridge, Manville and me) he had proved to be quite enthusiastic, and certainly argumentative when I suggested one or two challenges to his position. Ultimately, though, his case was unexciting and mundane, and unlikely to enthuse L6th formers to become prophets for euroscepticism, or even to think greatly about it.
The questions asked were good ones, and I fear his responses were a little inadequate. His case on Europe is essentially the self-interested one that says there is no easily quantifiable benefit to Britain in being a member. The case for Europe - implicit in some of the questions - is that in the global community Britain operates better as part of a larger unit than as the political and economic minnow she would otherwise be. Many of the European laws Pearson decries would have been passed by British governments anyway, whilst the redistribution of national income that he so hates is justified partly on the same pragmatic grounds that the Americans pursued the Marshall Plan - we need a healthy southern and eastern Europe to maintain our trading buoyancy.
I am not convinced, either, that 'no jobs depend on our membership of the EU', which was his response to Sam Young's question. It is inconceivable that our economy would be unaffected by something as significant as our withdrawal from one of the world's largest trading blocs. And the EU offers a much stronger regulatory defence against capitalist predators like Rupert Murdoch than Britain on her own ever could - especially given the craven attitude of successive British leaders to the Murdoch empire. However, Pearson was a fluent, informed and well practised protagonist for the eurosceptic cause, and it was certainly useful and interesting to hear him.
Ultimately then, a controversial but ultimately unsatisfying speech I think, rescued for me by intelligent sixth form questioning and the look of utter distaste that registered on Conor's face throughout the entire proceedings. Oh, and a thankyou to Tom Marshall for his irreverent, satirical last question - "How much did you pay for your peerage" indeed!