For most people in the UK, Europe is just about Johnny foreigner wanting to straighten our bananas; or at least that’s the impression you get if you believe most news outlets and a good chunk of our politicians – the xenophobia toward Europe and the EU can be cut with a knife, it’s awful, cloying and destructive.
For year after year the rhetoric has become increasingly hostile: and in my experience it’s not representative at all: so you have to wonder why it’s allowed to continue? Well of course the media doesn’t help; the sillier aspects of the EU administratitive functions are easier stories, and you can add a twist of them against us that you just don’t get from the same administrative department in the UK doing exactly the same thing… but that’s just not it.
No, the problem lies much deeper: it’s entrenched in our politics – none of the major parties (and I include the Lib Dems here) have a cogent European policy, a policy that doesn’t waver depending on which hack they’re chatting with, or which audience they’re addressing. No one dare put their head above the parapet and tell the truth: and the truth is that we’re in it. We’re a respected major component of the EU, and we’re constantly frustrating our nearest neighbours by seemingly ignoring this power. The UK has again and again made specific accommodations in European legislation and European treaties for it’s own gain – the idea that we always come off worse is a complete fallacy.
What we need to do is engage – we need to leave this idea of the ‘Great’ Empire in the past, the ‘special relationship’ we have with our friends across the pond doesn’t get nearly the same scrutiny as the EU does: time after time the USA have screwed Britain over and yet the USA is still great? Just ask yourself, who is setting the agenda – don’t be led by a few hacks desperate for an stereotype driven story, and don’t listen to a politician that believes we’d be better standing independent of our neighbours: because they’re wrong. The world has changed, China, India, the whole Middle East and Russia are growing in power, and it’s a fool that thinks that we’re going to be entering into fair or balanced trade agreements with any of those economic zones… Just ask America about their trading woes with China and you’ll realise just how difficult a time our little island would have.
Europe and the EU are great things, they’re things that the UK should be front and centre in all the time, together we and our European neighbours are the largest economy in the world, we’re one of the largest armed forces groups, we’re the most diverse cultural and economic zone in the world. It’s about time the UK stood up and looked at just how damn strong we can be if we engage properly with Europe.
So Messrs Cameron, Clegg and Brown – come clean: let’s have your real positions on Europe, right here, right now.