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?