Thursday, September 30, 2004

Another moan about the "yes" campaign...

Let me know if I'm boring you...

I just posted this as a comment to this post on EU Referendum. I ended up going on a bit, along the same lines as I did the other day...

The pro-European campaign has been in disarray for decades, so no surprises there. The problem is, as you hint at, that it's all being left to the second-stringers. McShane is not a good spokesman for the European cause - not only is he practically unknown in the real world, but he lacks the subtlety or knowledge to present a good case. If we don't have McShane, we get the likes of the smarmy Hain or distrusted liars Mandelson and Blair. Added to this is the fact that the only people who seem prepared to stand up and argue the case are faced with eurosceptic arguments which are often couched in black and white terms, and are foolish enough to respond in kind.

If some respected, intelligent heavy-hitters like Patten actually bothered to get involved then the debate might hot up to a level where genuine issues, benefits and problems might be discussed. Unfortunately the most prominent anti-Europe arguments are coming from the likes of Kilroy-Silk and his UKIP bretheren, and are largely based on distortions and half-truths. Rather than turn around and tell them they're talking bollocks, pro-Europeans need to demonstrate that their concerns are either unfounded (as is often the case) or that concessions are obtainable.

The EU has a lot wrong with it, certainly - that is part of what the constitution was supposed to address, but it was left in the hands of a bitter Frenchman who still hasn't quite got over how Roy Jenkins managed to get his own way at the Commission back in the late 70s. The constitution on offer is therefore not an ideal one by any means, and that is part of the problem.

After thirty+ years of prevarication we're now charging ahead with an excessively long and detailed document which isn't doing Europe any favours. Most of us pro-Europeans are such for the GOOD that the EU can offer, while being fully aware of the bad that's there. Unfortunately, to find the good in the proposed constitution is far, far more difficult than it is to find the bad.

In short, you eurosceptics have a very easy job. The public know practically nothing about the way the EU works, so will believe anything you tell them. You're working with a national press that is largely sympathetic to your arguments. You've been making the case against Europe for decades. Us pro-europeans, meanwhile, have been faffing about for as long as I can remember, certain that eventually everyone will come around to our way of thinking because, to us, it seems the right way, and mistakenly concentrating on the details that you eurosceptics keep on raising. The details are important, certainly, and even entire chunks of the EU project like the God-awful CAP (which even pro-Europeans have been trying to get reformed for at least a quarter of a century), but the broader picture is what we should ALL focus on. Flawed details can - eventually - be changed; this doesn't prevent the project as a whole from being beneficial.

And yes, before anyone points it out, I know I haven't made any specific arguments as to why I think the EU is a good thing...

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