Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 

The British Eurosceptic as maligned victim.

Posted by Jason O on Dec 10, 2011 in British Politics, European Union |

Do not ask for whom the bell tolls...

Do not ask for whom the bell tolls...

Listening to British Eurosceptics you can’t help being struck by the sense of victimhood they espouse. In short, the EU is an evil conspiracy that has tricked and manipulated them, and if only they had a proper Eurosceptic leader who could do the honourable thing and take Britain out. It’s a nice narrative, with goodies and baddies and a nice simple EU DeathStar to be blown up by valiant Eurosceptic rebels, freeing Britain at last from the evil empire.

Except it’s not true. Consider, for example, the theory that Britain has never had a proper Eurosceptic prime minister. Cameron has brought them closer to exit than ever before, Brown just glowered at the rest of the EU (remember his surreal refusal to attend the signing of the Lisbon treaty with every other leader, arriving later and walking through a banquet hall filled with half eaten food?), Blair talked the talk but did remarkably little on the EU, choosing instead to use up his brownie points on Iraq, of all things. Major kept Britain out of stuff, as did the blessed Margaret. Callaghan wasn’t there long enough to do anything, and Wilson gave the British people the chance to vote themselves out. You actually have to go all the way back to Ted Heath to find an unashamed pro-European.

On top of all that, there’s the simple fact that Eurosceptics in the Tory party have always chosen to put political ambition ahead of the alleged euroscepticism. Take the famous 81 rebels who voted against Cameron recently. If they really believe that Europe is the huge issue they claim it is amongst the British people, why don’t they, to a man and woman, cross the floor and form a genuine right-wing Eurosceptic party? They can negotiate as a separate party with the remaining Tory party to look for a referendum, after all, this is a hung parliament. Won’t the British people reward them for their courage, and flock to them in droves? They don’t do it, because they are afraid that the British people don’t care as much as they think, and secondly, because the moronic British electoral system would actually go haywire if another significant political party suddenly emerged on the right, splitting the Eurosceptic vote and ironically costing both Tories and rebels their seats.

Whatever way you look at it, you have to recognise that British unhappiness with the EU is primarily a failure of the British political system. After all, the British people voted recently to keep an electoral system which ensures that the country with the largest Eurosceptic population in Europe does not actually have a genuinely Eurosceptic national party in parliament. That is not Brussels’s fault.

6 Comments

Ian
Dec 10, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Europe was the one area that didn’t dog Heath as PM. Same goes for leading politiicans such as Jenkins, Mandelson, Heseltine or Clarke. Their postive endorsement and engagement in the EU never dogged their political career either.

Every PM that dabbles in Eurosceptic posturing gets their fingers burned. Their posturing will never satisfy our ridiculous media or the increasingly silly neo-liberal natioanlist on the Tory benches.


 
Peter
Dec 11, 2011 at 12:31 am

Jason – you’re living in a delusional world where everyone loves the EU and the sceptics are all crazies. Every time the public actually gets a vote they show they oppose further integration. And now we’re having the very things we were told during the Lisbon referendum would never happen foisted on. To save a currency we should be leaving and an elite group of bankers.


 
Jason O
Dec 11, 2011 at 9:31 am

Every time the pubiic votes they oppose? When? The results are mixed at best.


 

[...] We will ignore him. He’s not among us anymore. He’s to the Union what the Union is to him. Even if he couldn’t have done anything else, it’s clear: He and his country are on the edge now. He said goodbye, but we do not react to him anymore. [...]


 

[...] clear that after any summit there are victors and victims, though sometimes it can be more of a feeling of victimhood. But there is, at least, one person completely happy with the summit’s [...]


 
Peter
Dec 11, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Every time we vote we’re told it doesn’t really mean further integration – it only means and there follows a list of things like jobs, security etc. This time we’ll be told as usual we’ve no choice. Well we have – the UK has shown that there is a choice – we don’t have to be “at the heart of Europe”


 

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