Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Constitutional conundrums

Looks like the European Constitution debates are going to continue to hot up. The upcoming Labour conference could see a clash between the pro and anti camps within the party come into the open.

This could be a good thing, as raising the profile of the debate over the constitution could well finally see some of the benefits highlighted, but let's not forget the problems that European divisions caused for the Tories back in the 90s.

In a week which has already seen announcements that Blair nearly quit, and after a fortnight of press speculation about the significance of Alan Milburn's return to government for the Labour election manifesto, can the party really afford to seem even more divided? It was the lack of unity of John Major's government - especially over Europe - which did in for the Tories in 1997 nearly as much as the irritation of 18 years with the same party in charge and the allegations of sleaze. Labour is rapidly appearing to be putting itself in the same situation.

It's the same story in France, where everything seems to be going tits up. After the chaos of the last French Presidential elections, which saw the fascist Jean Marie Le Pen shock much of Europe by getting through to the final ballot, the French political situation is precarious to say the least.

Sooner or later, the pro-Europe camp is really going to have to pull its finger out. Unfortunately, if the Yes campaign continues to appear to be little more than a partisan grouping, and fails to build cross-party support with high-profile supporters (and by this I don't mean the likes of Eddie Izzard, as amusing and committed to the cause as he may be), then the better-organised No campaign (with the BNP, UKIP, Tories and majority of the British press on its side) is going to wipe the floor with them. End result? Britain ends up isolated and powerless, and will be forced to suck up to America even more than we do already in a desperate attempt to get by in the world.

Isn't politics fun?

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