October 12, 2007

Anglophobic rescue and ‘the thin red line’

Gordon Brown again refuses the UK a vote on the EU treaty. This is apparently because if our ‘red lines’ are unbroken we don’t need one; as if that was ever a good reason. A good reason is the matter of where ultimate authority should exist, increasingly it is in European institutions. However, he has committed a tactical blunder. I think we now can rely on our Anglophobic neighbours to push forward some measures to break those ‘red lines’ and on the opposition to point out their success. He has effectively ceded the opportunity to point out the treaty problems via a referendum, to Anglophobic negotiators who need only cross one of our ‘red lines’. I trust that we can depend upon them if not Gordon Brown.
To cross one of these ‘red lines’ may seem to be self defeating as it promises a veto on the treaty, but the Anglophobic continentals may take a longer view. They can initiate a process of excluding us if everyone else accepts the treaty. We would be marginalised again and eventually forced to withdraw or enter into a second tier less influential membership. This is a high stakes gamble as some other countries may also veto or vote ‘no’. Perhaps we should pre-empt this form of attack by arguing for a lighter European membership project and making it our own. This would in fact be better for us and could also be argued for as a staging point for new country membership. It could ultimately become the more successful European club and would allow us to offer an alternative European vision. Then countries would have a choice of membership styles.



  1. There was an interesting analysis on Newsnight last night, which showed that David Cameron and all the wannabes running for Lib Dem leadership share their sound bites. It was smartly interspersed with clips that showed how the soundbite “meme” travels in UK politics.

    This treaty is one chance for the Tories and the Lib Dems to make _one_ promise that at least some voters – as influencers and opinion builders – will care for: the creeping Europeanisation of the UK.

    My money is that they are so into soundbites that this ain’t going to fly. Shame on us for having such impotent leaders!

    Comment by Shefaly — October 20, 2007 @ 7:48 am

  2. Hello again Shefaly
    I like to watch Paxman sparing with those brave or foolish enough to confront him on Newsnight. Unfortunately I missed that particular show and what sounds like a nice little observation. It is true soundbites do seem to have a life of their own. One that springs to mind is “I am minded to” which I seem to remember was started by Jack Straw on some matter of foreign policy and kept on popping up. Also “pockets”, first applied to armed resistance in Iraq, later on used in weather forecasts. Just recently the notion of ‘I fancy cheese on toast’ was used as a meme in adverts for Cathedral City cheese to good effect. I remember having discussions where I took a deliberately contrapuntal stance on some issue for effect in debate, only to surprise myself by using elements of those views I was denying days later, often with signature phrases I liked from the originator. It seems it may be a subconscious act to preserve the meme.
    It is true we do have some feeble leaders at the moment, I use that noun very loosely here. I would not trust any one of them to do anything unless it was in their own interests. On European integration, I see a unified world as good objective and Europe as merely a step along the way. Unfortunately, I don’t much like the form of the EU, but I suppose we are better in than out, although it pains me to say it. As I said in one of my posts, we should try to subvert the EU and create an alternative membership within it, rather than confront it.

    Comment by conceptualizer — October 24, 2007 @ 3:16 pm

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