A call to arms

More on the British referendum, here’s Johann Hari’s clarion call for pro-Europe Brits to finally stand up and fight. The money quote:

This is a European country, and we must not allow a lying Australian-American billionaire and his paid lackeys to poison our sense of our own national interest.

Indeed. A minor quibble, however, with this statement:

No other major European political party – except for Jean-Marie Le Pen’s neo-fascist National Front in France – supports the Tory position of not having a constitution at all.

This is debatable. Vaclav Klaus, the Czech president and the figurehead leader of the most popular Czech political party, ODS, has gone on record saying saying he hoped the proposed EU constitution would be rejected. Not amended, mind you — rejected. Whether he wants a constitution at all, I suppose, would depend on what you mean by “constitution.”

There’s also the pesky Viktor Orban in Hungary, former Prime Minister and now opposition leader. It’s difficult to parse these leaders’ precise positions, because both are nominally pro-accession (although Klaus was notably silent in the lead-up to last year’s referendum on entry). But I think on the pan-European spectrum of attitudes toward integration, these guys are probably in the same neighborhood — the same area code, at least — as the anti-EU Tory contingent.

And they can’t be ignored; like Klaus’s club of crony capitalists, Orban’s Fidesz party is whipping the ruling Socialists in the polls.

UPDATE: Just yesterday Doug Arellanes posted a translation of a Klaus essay in Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes: “We Must Not Get Lost In the European Union!” I feel like I hate the man (and everything he represents about Czech society) a bit too much to say anything remotely objective about this article, but I’d be interested in hearing some comments.

7 thoughts on “A call to arms

  1. hmmm,
    Undoubtedly, Murdoch wouldn’t have much to work with if there wasn’t some native Euroscepticism.

    The problem with the Murdoch press championing Euroscepticism, or the Iraq war, or anything of importance,…is that contra-indicative facts are treated as inconvenient codicils rather than as the meat of the matter.

  2. I love to repeat this as oftena s I can. A former flatmate of mine now works in the Tory party hq. She was adamantly anti EU until she had to do some research for a paper in political theory, then she changed her mind. Sure, there are historical myths of rationality in Britain as everywhere. And they tremendously influence the Public opinion. Yet there would be a chance to rationally address them if it weren’t for the tabloids, and Tory Press. It would certainly be great if Springer actually bought the Daily Telegraph 😉

  3. Patrick,

    Two distinguished columnists of The [London] Times, Simon Jenkins and Matthew Parris, have been consistent and persistent critics of the Iraq war. Since both have also visited Iraq in recent months, they are also amongst the better informed among columnists writing on the war. The Murdoch press is not, in fact, as monolithic as some like to claim to advance their own cause.

    It is also patronising in the extreme to imply that Eurosceptics are just dupes of the Murdoch press. Unfortunately, in my (long) experience of debating European affairs online, that kind of label and smear tends to be characteristic of the argument deployed by ardent Europhiles.

    Btw the paper by Alesina and Perotti, which Sam Brittan refers to, or something close to it, can be downloaded here (PDF): http://post.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/alesina/papers/europeanunionfeb04.pdf

  4. I find the Klaus essay quite reasonable and his concerns are not totally unwarranted. Even though I am pro-EU, because I see no immediate better alternative, there are still plenty of questions and uncertainties I would like to see answered in a clear way. The weight of the bureaucracy is one of my concerns as well. I read the constitution and if I remember correctly it says somewhere “unity in diversity”, so the cultural differences are covered. But I have absolutely no idea how this will work out in practice. One thing I do know: if we can make the EU work against all the odds it will be an historical miracle. But for now, too many things are still too abstract for a simple guy like me.

  5. Of course, there is a case for something like the European Union. There is probably a good case for having a tidying-up Constitution for the EU. But there is no case for the present draft Constitution, which is far too centralising and intrusive in the affairs of EU member states. My guess from what I have heard in radio interviews and read in the press is that if anything much like the present draft is put to a referendum in Britain it will be voted down.

  6. Post Script:

    Just in case any still believe Johann Hari’s ridiculous supposition that only dupes of the Murdoch press oppose the present draft of the EU Constitution:

    “Mr Blair faces further embarrassment today when his former economics adviser says he would vote against any new EU constitution that ‘remotely’ resembled the current draft. Derek Scott said: ‘If the referendum is on a constitution that looks remotely like the one in December, I think that not only I but a great many British people will be voting against it.'” – from: http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=515023

Comments are closed.