Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Churchill would have ratified the EU Treaty
‘The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter’. Churchill’s famous dictum could be very helpful to British MPs as they engage into the latest row over the EU Treaty. Some of them have even formed a cross-party group which brands itself as the “I Want a Referendum” gang. Today their members, mainly Tories, Lib Dems and some Labour, as well as a bunch of campaigners formed a long queue by the Parliament, demanding a referendum before any ratification is implemented by the British Government.
A few weeks ago I used to believe in a referendum, mainly because of Brown’s incapacity to show any public transparency on EU matters. His stubborn continuation in the lamentable footpaths of former British Prime Ministers, who have always treated the EU as the “forbidden apple” subject, inspired a sort of quiet rebellion within me. Until today!
Churchill woke my senses up this morning as I was watching David Cameron pick the wrong fight during PM’s Questions…AGAIN. One does not need Einstein’s brain to see through the shallow Tory strategy of attempting to mobilise public support by employing cheap forms of populism. Blame it on Europe and get the average Brit excited about politics. Spit on Brussels and “Joe the six-pack” will vote in your favour…as he doesn’t have a clue! How can he/she understand when there is so little public awareness of Europe in the UK? The Brits still talk of Europeans as another ‘breed’ – such strange beings with organised manners and a relaxed approach to life. Such a threat to the shambolic ways of the Brits!
Westminster is today suffering from cheap politics and the subject deserves to be revisited properly. First of all, this is the wrong fight to pick. Cameron would strike better chords with the public if he attacks Brown where it hurts. Instead of a referendum, the Tory ‘Musketeer’ should concentrate on Joe’s real issues, such as why the UK ranks 17th in the Euro Health Consumer Index, still lagging behind European counterparts when it comes to basic healthcare…
On the other side, Gordon Brown should come out of his timidity and confront his opponents with passion, as this remains the miraculous remedy in politics. Remember Tony Blair? Brown’s Government has a responsibility to explain to the average voter that the EU Treaty will in effect simplify matters and will play in favour of the island’s electorate. Same responsibility lies with the Tory and Lib Dem leaders. They should first explain to their constituents what the Treaty is about and then ask them to vote in a referendum.
Have they told the average Brit for example of how the Treaty will get rid of the current rotating EU presidency and replace it with a President, who may even be Tony Blair? How the Treaty will give Europe a bigger voice in world affairs and that this will be complementary to the foreign policies of each member state? And how the average Brit’s representation in international politics will increase? Do they know that the Treaty will result in fewer EU Commissioners than there are today – satisfying precisely one of the primary concerns of the UK with the EU Commission? Does Joe know that the Treaty offers the UK an opt-out from European policies concerning asylum, visas and immigration?
Judging by Churchill’s famous speech in 1946 that ‘we must build a kind of United States of Europe’, the average Brit today would have continued with their beer drinking and Churchill would have swiftly implemented the ratification of the EU Treaty. Brown should do the same!