Thursday, November 5, 2009

For once, David Cameron is right - sort of

While damaging to the country’s interests, it is always fun to watch the Conservatives wriggling to avoid self-destruction over Europe – and again we see their leadership furiously backpedalling. For once, however, David Cameron has got something right.

We should have had referendums over the various European treaties – we should have had one on Maastricht (which the Tories denied us), on Nice and on Lisbon. Had we done so, everyone would be much more clued-up over Europe and aware of the advantages. There is much that is wrong and much improvement needed with the European Union, but sitting on the fence doing nothing is not going to change anything. It is reassuring therefore to hear Mr Cameron promise a referendum on any future treaty – better late than never, I guess – assuming he keeps his word this time.

Throughout the history of the EU we have followed, dragged along by others, never led. We were late joining originally and instead joined on the terms of others, we are not in the Euro, we are not in the passport agreement, and has any major EU initiative or treaty originated from the UK?

It’s time to bite the bullet and decide once and for all. We have dithered for too long. We should have a referendum to ask do we want to stay in the EU?

There should be a national debate, both sides can be heard, and then the public can decide. Either we take a full and active role in the European project, join the Euro and the Schengen agreement, have our MEPs as part of the main groupings in the parliament, and take the subject more seriously? Or we simply leave the EU and go it alone?

That is the referendum that David Cameron should be promising us.

1 comment:

  1. But why do you think the question is, "do we want to stay in the EU?"

    Of course we do. There are overwhelming reasons why it is very much in our interest to pool bits of our sovereignty to do things collectively that we cannot effectively do alone. This is in broad terms the view of the great majority of the British public, including incidentally the Conservatives. The only exception is UKIP supporters and that is a pretty nutty fringe.

    So, I would argue that the question we should be asking is, "how to we best pool bits of our sovereignty, consistent with our commitment of devolving power nearer to the people?"

    The EU Constitution - err, Lisbon Treaty as it's now called - is a project of a self-serving European elite. It does nothing to move power closer to the people. It has repeatedly been defeated in votes and would have been more often defeated had more votes been allowed.

    So why should Lib Dems sign up support this thoroughly bad, illiberal and undemocratic plan? Why do we not offer an alternative vision of Europe - one that is liberal and democratic for instance?

    Listen carefully and you will hear that this is what Tory 'Eurosceptics' are doing - except, of course, that their alternative plan is a typically Tory one. They don't want to be out. They want a big business friendly EU with no balancing regulation. So what is the Lib Dem alternative plan?

    There isn't one!

    That's why we did so incredibly badly in the European elections. Even liberals had no reason to vote for our position.