Friday, 16 May 2014
A Euorpean election not about Europe.
In his splendid biography of Roy Jenkins, John Campbell quotes in some detail a speech made by Jenkins in 1967:
[To] cling on to our precarious position as the third of the great powers [by maintaining a military capacity] which has to be paid for by others bailing us out is neither dignified nor effective.. . . . Europe. . . offers the prospect of living among equals, and exercising great influence through our co-operation with them, instead of straining ourselves into weakness by trying vainly to keep up with the power giants of the world. (Campbell, page 292)
Nearly half a century later little has changed in substance, save that rather than trying to be "the third of the great powers" our jingoists are reduced to being content with the role of lapdog to the US.
Jenkins's vision of "living among equals, and exercising great influence thorough our co-operation with
them " (my emphasis) remains as valid as ever.
I'm aware that even in continental Europe, and even among the founders, there is a certain disengagement, to put it mildly, from the initial vision. Yet I understand that in those coutries the EU election is at least largely about the EU and what polices the various parties have to maintain it or modify it.
In the UK, apart from grumbles and misinformation about immigration, the EU hardly seems to feature in the election campaign at all.
My Tory leaflet for Yorkshire enumerates the wonders of their achievements in cutting the deficit, cutting tax, and capping welfare, whilst claiming that "Labour and the Liberal Democrats won't stand up for Britain."
Labour devote a quarter of their leaflet to a huge picture of Ed Miliband with he caption that "Only Labour will tackle the cost-of-living crisis," which alleged crises occupies half of each of two other pages. A third of another page proclaims that we " cant' trust the Tories with the NHS" (how true, but hardly a European issue), and matters genuinely pertaining to the EU (workers' rights, jobs, and Europe-wide legislation to limit smoking amongst children) each merit only about a quarter-page inset.
Even the Greens, whom you would think would latch onto the importance of the EU in reaching international agreement on climate change, pollution and the conservation of the environment, barely mention these issues and devote space to a living wage, insulation privatisation, HS2 and Trident, all largely domestic issues.
Although we are clearly defined as "The party of IN", which is at least a step in the right direction, Liberal Democrat literature unimaginatively concerns itself mainly with the importance of Europe in maintaining jobs.
So where is the enthusiasm to further Jenkins's vision of working with our equals to maintain and improve this great achievement in the creation and preservation of democracy, the rule of law, human rights, health, education, inter-cultural relationships, cross border justice, and links with other great powers to achieve a fairer, greener, more sustainable and more just world for all humankind.?
No wonder the blinkered Ukip are tipped to top the poll.