The problems of the EU debate
I've been having an interesting discussion with a chap called Ken in the comments section of my Euromyths post down the page. I'd be interested to hear some more opinions, as it's certainly helped me clarify (as much as it can be) my thinking on some key problems which both sides of the argument face. I'll reproduce a few of these thoughts here, slightly edited, in case anyone's interested:
The basic point is that the silly details are distracting everyone from the truly important issues. Whether you are pro- or anti-EU, there's still only a year to sort out your feelings towards the constitution and to convince others of the merits of your opinion.
Distortions from either side will simply ensure that the majority of the population don't know enough to form a valid opinion. Not only would this reduce turnout, but it would also mean that the losing side will be able to continue to claim that the winning argument doesn't have a clear mandate from the people. This would not be healthy for either side.
When I started this blog, the fact that I've accepted both sides of the argument I hoped would give me a good chance to straddle the debate and treat all sides equally. As it stands, the fact I've declared myself to be pro-Europe (even though I didn't declare to what extent) means that anyone anti-EU seems automatically to take a slightly hostile stance, and anyone pro seems to think I'll agree with everything they say.
I've been labelled left-wing by a bunch of sites, even though I'm more of a centrist. A few (who have only read individual posts in isolation) have called me a righ-winger. In my time I've been called both a socialist and a Tory. As it stands, I'm both opposed to some aspects of the EU, and very much in favour of other bits.
Sadly, however, terminology is all important in this sort of thing, and there is no consensus on what anything actually means. As I pointed out the other day, even "Eurosceptic" doesn't mean what it says anymore. It's all somewhat frustrating...
The left/right assumptions when it comes to Europe are very confusing. I mean, the EU is a trade organisation, aiming to promote capitalism - that should be right-wing. But it also promotes workers' rights and such like, which is left-wing. In other words, it's neither. Just another silly generalisation.
And as you say, it is our various governments which give powers away. Personally, I can't understand why Westminster would want to do that. The Commons spent centuries building up the influence that it's now got, and is trying to gain more power by messing with the Lords - why chuck it away? I genuinely don't understand it, even though (for the most part) I think a lot of it was for the greater good. (The European Court of Human Rights being a prime example - even though we've opted out of various clauses to allow us to suspend habeas corpus - one of the fundamental rights which parliament was fighting for throughout the seventeenth century... As I say, I don't understand it...)
The double standards also get me. New Euroblogger Lose the Delusion has a good post on it. I'd add the question - Why is it that the anti-EU lot in this country ever seem to stop and think WHY so many governments want to go ahead with this? The way they present it, the French (in particular) are trying to build up the EU as a super-state which will destroy British sovereignty. By this logic, it would also destroy French sovereignty. Even the briefest glances at French politics (going back to at least Louis VII) would demonstrate that this is not something the French are particularly predisposed to do, despite all the "cheese-eating surrender-monkey" nonsense.
The French have lived under imposed foreign domination within living memory - as have the Belgians, the Dutch, the Luxembourgians, the Poles, the Czechs, etc. etc. etc. It is not something they wish to repeat, and they have far better knowledge of the situation than anyone in the UK does. I can't see any European country genuinely wanting a USA-style federal Europe, so that particular anti-EU argument simply never washed with me, even when I was full-on anti-EU.
What do you reckon? Am I just stupid for not getting this, or what?
Edit: Sorry, I've only just realised that the chap called Ken is the guy behind EURealist. Make your Blogger profiles public, people - you'll get more linkage... He looks like a thoughtful chap, so I'll try and add him to the blogroll tomorrow. Here's his alternative take on the whole Euromyth business.