Friday, January 11, 2013

EU politics: the wages of fear

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Jeremy Warner is in the increasingly europhile Telegraph today, declaring his hand for the European Union.

He tell us that "things on the Continent have a nasty habit of going wrong when the UK retreats behind its island shores" and fails to see what would be achieved by leaving the European Union, "beyond the saving on the price of club membership, which amounts to 'just' 0.24 per cent of GDP".

Nevertheless, he concedes that "Europe" has become "a racket". Any institution that can routinely ignore the referendum votes of its member states has got to be viewed with the utmost suspicion, he writes then adding – by way of example - that the prospect of Britain having "important parts of her transport policy determined by a former Estonian communist is beyond ridiculous".

Unfortunately, his answer to that is the Open Europe/European Movement nostrum of "root-and-branch reform", arguing that to "stay and fight for a better Europe: that has to be the rational approach".

Warner, though, doesn't begin to have any ideas of how to bring this happy occasion about. None of his ilk ever do, so this is not the counsel of a rational or an informed man. Instead, as we see fromthe last time that Warner had a serious go at the subject, his stance is rooted in fear. 

This was in November last, when he was discounting David Cameron's chance of winning back significant powers over fisheries, agriculture or the budget (a reasonable enough position). These would be "red-line issues" for both Germany and France. If Britain pushed, Germany would close ranks with France to adopt the two-speed approach, Warner told us. 

Then we got the "fear". "Britain's position in the internal market would become marginalised", Warner wrote. "We'd end up like Norway, forced to adopt most of the foibles of the eurozone to keep trading with it, but with no say in its constitution".

It really is a terrible indictment of the legacy media, of which Warner is a typical representative, that their writings are fuelled by that deadly combination of ignorance and fear. Wee timorous little men who have neither the wit nor the imagination to look beyond their own limited horizons, tremble in their shoes at the very thought of stepping away from the herd. 

In this he is joined by the ghastly Damian Reece, making two afeared beasties of the press who have nothing to offer the debate but their own terrors. 

Our big problem is that there is no engagement. It is not as if, by dint of polite discourse and careful argument, these people can be prevailed upon to change their minds. They are rooted in their fears which, buoyed by their own innate arrogance and sense of superiority, render them immune to any corrective. 
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This lack of engagement we also see with Mr Clegg and his "3 million jobs" meme. This is by no means the first time he has run this "scary movie". But the last time he did it, he was taken apart, with his rhetoric being dismissed as "scaremongering".

We now have Witterings from Witney again doing a demolition job but, despite the excellence of his work, Mr Clegg will continue with his wibbling unabated until the end of time – as indeed will theBarclay Beano hack-pack with theirs.

This is what makes the "Europe" debate so frustrating. It struggles to progress beyond the stale mantras and twitterings of fearful men, and the tribal mewing of their political followers. But at least the fear is leavened with humour: the idea of Jeremy Warner making a "fight" of anything is a total joke.