Sunday, 20 January 2013
QUI / NON.... You Decide! (Some Thoughts.)
The photo of the faded graffiti accompanying this post has been on a wall near where I live for possibly over 40 years since the last referendum about Britain’s membership of the Common Market, or the European Economic Community to give it its proper title. Despite the weathering and attempted removal you can still just about make out the words EEC NO. (The photo was taken on Jan 12th 2013) Britain joined the EEC in 1973.
Forty years later the debate about Britain’s membership of the European Union is being questioned, and there is talk of a referendum, and changing Britain’s relationship with its neighbours across the channel. We could probably survive/do without the extra laws that have been generated since the early 90's when the union became more about creating social policies as well as economic ones for its member states. By 1993 the Economic had been dropped and it became just the European Union. But what about the economics....I mean Britain doesn't produce enough food to feed its people, it is nearly all imported from Europe, which was ironically a concern when Britain first joined the union in 1973. If Britain were to opt out then all the old trade deals would become as redundant as the workforce. Or would they? I don't think anyone really knows what the consequences would be for Britain if it did leave the EU, but I can't see it happening, for one The USA wont allow Britain to leave the EU, after all Britain is still Americas trojan horse in Europe, and when it comes to special relationships Britain always favours America, no matter what the cost; you only have to look at the numbers of troops killed and wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq, more British service men than German or French have lost their lives.
An island mentality
It's about the power. Britain wants to be a great European power, but those days of colonialism and Empires are over. Then there's the German question? The fear of a Europe run by the Germans, and some people find this hard to deal with because.... isn't that what Britain fought two world wars for, to stop Germany taking over Europe. (Their view not mine) The same people also believe that Britain has been invaded by immigrants from Europe who are taking our jobs and house or living off state benefits.
Immigration has provided a workforce to do the jobs that British workers either didn't want to do, or were to expensive to hire.
Anti European feeling has been fostered in the media, thanks to stories about EU laws that dictate the length of the British sausage, and the size of our crisps, running along side tales of how much the 'immigrants' receive in state benefits.
The increased popularity of UKIP shows that there are more people out there who are unhappy with Britain being in the European Union. A pound to the mark/franc says that many of these have views and opinions that veer further to the Right than is healthy. All this anti-Europe sentiment plays into the hands of the extremists, and in comparison with the Labour, Conservative and Liberal parties, UKIP are extreme, not to the extent of the BNP, but who knows what could happen over say the next 10 years.
Is membership of the European Union a threat to our democracy? Well....no, not unless our leaders let it be. Which is what they have done since Britain joined, other countries have had regular referendums over changes in European legislation.
All the new laws from Europe have created large and costly bureaucracies and new levels of management to administer politicians and civil servants interpretation of the laws from Brussels. I use the word interoperate, because when the Smoking in the workplace legislation came from Brussels, The British Labour government decided to ban it completely, but many European countries left that decision to the employers, who set aside designated smoking areas.
Using smoking in the workplace as an example, we can see that it's one rule for one country and another one for another country. The same goes for immigration, both Germany and France have placed a cap on the numbers that they allow in. It's the same with the Human Rights that see terrorists appealing against convictions in Britain, but in France they are sent back to their homeland, no questions asked other than that they have been found guilty. Is it tolerance that makes Britain Great? Or is it colonial guilt that dictates over common sense?
Having the cake and eating it! I'm sure a total withdrawal from Europe is not on the cards, I can't see any government putting that question before the masses of X-Factor voters and Racist bigots. I can see them renegotiating the social policies that are strangling a nation with bureaucratic red tape, and haemorrhaging money through the layers of management employed to enforce the laws, such as health and safety.
I don't want a European Super state, especially not if Tony Blair's up for being the EU President. But I don't want isolation, it's about inclusion, involvement, and yes integration in a world that has changed dramatically over the last 50 years. These changes have left some confused and unable to cope with the fears that Britain is losing its 'national identity' these people are easy targets for the media and right wing politicians. The fact is that Britain has changed and will continue to change, the same goes for other EU states, and it's always the economic migrants and the dispossessed that bare the brunt of peoples anger at being let down as they see it by the politicians, and they may have a point, but the answer to 'the European issue' does not lie to the far right, nor to the far left, it lies down the middle, a balance between the good and bad that the European Union offers to all member states, rather than letting them eat cake!