Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Eurofederalism begins at home

Two letters appear in The Daily Telegraph today, in response to the Hannan piece two days ago.

The first, from UKIP member Alan Smith, need not detain us long. His main theme, under the heading, "province of Europe", is that Parliament, since its inception, has been the manifestation of the power of the people. "The institutions of the EU, which is a foreign power," writes Smith, "have superseded it and the people, as typified by Mr Hannan, are gradually waking up to that fact."

Clearly, Smith – and many of his colleagues – still see the EU as an imposition on us by a "foreign power", failing to realise that our membership continues only with the assent of Parliament, and that our own government is one of the main cheerleaders in the process of integration. The EU is, therefore, imposed upon us by our own government, with the support of our own Parliament.

The same lack of understanding pervades the next letter, from Brian Denny, representing the Trade Unionists against the EU Constitution. He writes that "Daniel Hannan is quite right to point out that the EU constitution, rejected by the French and Dutch electorates, is being imposed on us anyway," putting it down to "eurofederalist intrigue".

That may or may not be the case, but the question is: imposed by whom? In the intergovernmental context of the latest developments, it is member state governments – and the UK in particular – which are making the running so, again, we have our own government to blame.

Denny's substantive point, however, is that Hannan is wrong to claim that Open Europe is "waging a lonely campaign" to alert people to the danger of the continuing implementation of the constitution. He adds the Trade Unionists against the EU Constitution, the Campaign against Euro Federalism, the Centre for a Social Europe and the Democracy Movement (which has just published a review of The Great Deception – thank you). To that list, we could also add UKIP and the Bruges Group. This blog has also been known to publish the occasional critical piece about the EU.

Concludes Denny, "Democrats are in danger of talking ourselves into a self-fulfilling prophecy of dominance from Brussels unless we highlight the vast breadth of growing opposition that exists against such a state of affairs."

We, of course, have pointed out the other danger – the failure to recognise who the actual enemy is – our own government. It is very much part of the "little Englander" tendency to position the issue as a take over by a "foreign power" but that, in many ways, suits those who are responsible for our continued membership.

I have lost count of the number of times I have spoken to ministers and MPs who claim that there is nothing they can do when confronted with EU legislation. They project a sense of fatalism, absolving themselves from responsibility for the mess, transferring the blame to that same "foreign power" against which the "little Englanders" rail.

This is where Eurosceptics need to wake up and get their act together. The blame lies not in Brussels but in Westminster, and that is where the enemy lies. They need to realise that "eurofederalism" begins at home.


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