Sunday, January 17, 2016
Emoting about the EU
Tory MP Nick Herbert is leading the EU "Stay" campaign - or one of them at any rate - and not before time if a poll in the Mail is to be believed. According to the Survation poll the "Leave" option now leads by 6%, given impetus it would seem, by concerns over terrorist attacks and a migrant influx that would clearly not exist if we weren't in the EU.
The Telegraph describes this as a "war", although quite why the preparation to debate an important referendum issue should be a "war" is puzzling in itself. The Telegraph lost a lot of its news credibility some time ago when its cozy relationship with HSBC was revealed, but still. A war?
Nick Herbert is effectively leading what will be the minority view within the Tory party about Europe. Sceptics in the Tory party - up to and including the cabinet - are so plentiful that David Cameron has almost seemed besieged by his desire to secure a deal which could persuade people to vote to stay in. As Nick Clegg - resurfacing on today's Marr show - remarked, it is going to be important to remember that the EU referendum extends rather further than the broiling civil war amongst the Tories.
Another salvo in the right-wing exchanges was fired in the Telegraph as well. "Historians for Britain", a fantastically named group presumably suggesting that other historians are not at all committed to Britain, has dished the notion that the EU has had any role in preserving peace since the war. And in this, I have to cautiously agree. I think the EU has been a remarkable development in a continent which little over half a century ago was used to tearing itself to bits every few years on the battlefield, but yes I think NATO more than the EU can claim the credit for actually helping to preserve the very peace from which the EU has emerged and flourished. The EU's forays into foreign policy have not been particularly effective - witness eastern Ukraine, a crisis begun at least in part by heavy handed EU overtures to pro-western Ukrainian politicians - and they struggle to speak with a single voice over such things as migration or the middle eastern conflict. But still. At least they do speak. And meet. And negotiate. And hold summits and things. I doubt there's a person alive in the war-tortured middle east - outside the gun-toting, violence-inflicting, morally abandoned psycho loons of ISIS and their associates - who wouldn't rather have an EU type approach to inter-state affairs than the military machisma currently prevailing.
The referendum will hopefully be based on rational pro and anti arguments, but in amongst it I have to confess that there is a wholly emotive endorsement on my part of the whole EU experiment, and what it is meant to represent.