Saturday, June 06, 2015

There isn't a "Labour case for Europe". There is a "Case for Europe" PERIOD

Labour leadership contender Andy Burnham is apparently saying there should be a "Labour YES to Europe" campaign. He is wrong. Here's why.

In my response to a recent article by Tory arch Eurosecptic Tim Montgomerie I argued the case for Britain in the EU as follows:

(1). Every European nation, even Germany, cannot expect to compete and have influence on its own. The power blocks of the U.S., China, Russia,  ASEAN etc. will have respect for and have self-interest in dealing with a strong United Europe. Britain alone would be just another player. Large yes, but cast adrift from Europe without bargaining power or even an automatic right to be at the table. We'd be like some embarrassing old Uncle clutching gamely on to the nobility of our history and our once achievements but in reality mumbling on impotently on the sidelines whilst the younger, brighter more forward looking members of our once family get on with managing today and tomorrow.

(2). The undeniable fact that peace in Europe since 1945 did not happen by chance. I'm actually in Croatia as I write this and not one Croatian I've spoken to would argue that their membership of the EU was not strongly predicated on the peace dividend it brings. When I visit Mostar in a day's time I will see the rebuilt bridge which replaced the one destroyed by conflict a few short decades ago. That bridge is a handy metaphor for the wider cooperative benefits of cooperation - Jaw Jaw rather than War War. Churchill was right.

(3)  The EU has its problems and yes twenty plus years after Maastricht it's right that the precise basis of individual nations' membership (not just Britain) should be reviewed. But in my lifetime - precisely coinciding (so far!) with the post war era of cooperation not conflict - nothing has been as uplifting as the removal of barriers across Europe. The free movement of labour and capital, the elimination of tariff and other barriers. The common currency. But above all the recognition that in return for a modest surrender of sovereignty you can be part of strong, credible, multinational Union and you can add to the pride you feel for your own nation a parallel pride in being a European. We must, as Britons, never give up this privilege.

I could add other points to these and I will. But at the highest level of abstraction this are key messages. To be competitive. To build together on post-war peace. To manage change whilst acknowledging the core economic advantages of union.

These things transcend Party. There isn't a Labour (or a Conservative)  case for Britian in Europe there is a British case. The more divided the "Yes" campaign is the more confused the electorate will be and the Party neutrality of the campaign will be lost - a potentially disastrous outcome. 


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home