Friday, 28 December 2012

Europe: committed paticipant yes, but why leader?

In an interview in yesterday's Guardian on Britain's role in the EU Nick Clegg is reported to use the word "leadership" eight times, along with "leading," "leading role",  "major player," " major role," and "dominant role" once each.

I applaud Nick's  political courage and dedication to our Liberal principles in taking a positive stance so clearly on a subject which is not currently popular with the electorate, but why this obsession with leadership? Nick Clegg is a relatively young man and was presumably not, like me and those of my era, brought up to admire a map the land surface of which was one third red, and infused with the derring-do empire building spirit of the novels of Percy F Westerman and W E Johns (or maybe Westminster School is more old fashioned than I'd thought.)

As both  a former employee of the Commission and  member of the European Parliament Clegg must  be aware of  the effect such arrogance will have on the other members.  Surely they must be irritated by the concept that a condescending Britain will, when it gets round to it, be graciously pleased, by virtue of our superior instincts and political skills,  to lead them into paths of greater economic prosperity and political cohesion.

What they want, and what pro-Europeans in the UK want,  is a Britain  which is committed to he European ideal and prepared to work constructively and the other members to a achieve it, rather than sniping from the sidelines and appearing to take pleasure at every setback.

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