A fist in the face?

British Spin, the anonymous author of the British Politics weblog makes an interesting suggestion about how European politics could become more interesting:

One of the problems of Europe (of many) is that it is just too respectful. It is a good sign for Europe when various leaders clearly wish to bitchslap each other. Frankly, to build a stronger european community, nothing would be better than a no holds barred brawl.

Think about it. If British politics was conducted with the restraint, the gentle diplomacy and careful choreography on Euro-summiteering we would not only be asleep, but we would be far less alive to the vital issues of the day.

This is why I cheered when Silvio Berlusconi made a tasteless joke about a German MEP, and why I cheered louder when Schroeder then cancelled a holiday in Italy. I can?t wait for Blair to liken the Franco-German alliance to two drunks staggering down the street (c. Bill Clinton) or for Chirac to tell the Poles that they don?t have a right to a veto because they should be jolly grateful not to still be communist.

This stuff isn?t just trivia, or froth, or yah boo politics. It?s a sign that passions are engaged and that politicians need to speak to their people, not just to each other.

The demotic and the democratic voices are the same. They are loud, energetic, rough, vicious and full of life. Courtly language, diplomacy and soft speaking are the language of the elite, of the few, of the exclusive.

I’m not sure I agree with the idea of controversy for the sake of it, but it is an interesting point. Do we need more confrontation within Europe to make people more aware of what’s going on? Does the relative lack of public disagreement between Europe’s leaders make the people at large feel excluded from the process, or make them think it’s about technical issues rather than real and important matters? Would we see more of the European Parliament in the news if there were more heated debates going on there?

5 thoughts on “A fist in the face?

  1. “Do we need more confrontation within Europe to make people more aware of what’s going on”

    My answer would be no, but it looks like you may not have to wait too long to get some, viz:

    “Blair has made clear there are a number of “red lines” he will not cross and he has demanded the removal of clauses in the constitution that weaken national rights to veto EU decisions on foreign policy, defense and taxation. “There are certain changes we will need,” he said Thursday.”

  2. Hmmm. The thing is British debate is to a large extent about personality and sensation in a manner that I’m not sure the European media go in for as much. The British approach is better entertainment but I’m not sure it has much else to commend it.

  3. “national rights to veto EU decisions on foreign policy, defense and taxation”

    While I wouldn?t be happy if Blair prevailed in these matters, this would not preclude progress towards tighter integration in the future. (Consider what Blair would propose if Britain were singled out as a target in the war conducted by the terrorists – would you expect him to resist a cooperative approach in defending the EU against terrorist threats?)
    The same cannot be said for compromises on procedural matters: if the Poles and Spaniards got their way, the Constitution would be marred by a birth defect that might have very unfortunate consequences in the future. We need only look to the U.S. for instruction on this point. There seems to be no debate at all about abolishing the Electoral College or doing anything about the disproportionate representation of the American population in the Senate, although both features of the American system are clearly not conducive to improving the democratic decision-making process.

  4. It would be quite fun even if adoption began at home. English MPs could say what they really feel about the Scots, Bavarians about the Ossis and just about everybody could talk about their Muslim immigrants. The Italians have already started I guess — Come on Vesuvius etc. That would be interesting.

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