Wednesday, 17 May 2017

We've never belonged in the EU

Bizarrely, there are still people who try to tell me that the EU is not a government and that we are not a subordinate to it. And I thought it was us leavers who were supposed to be thick.

A common refrain of remainers over the last year has been that we didn't you what we were voting for. Were I to be obstinate I would say we damn well did know what we were voting for. It said right there on the ballot paper. But since we're being frank, no, hardly anyone realised exactly to what extend we were integrated - and were barely aware of the multiplicity of EU functions and agencies. That goes as much for remainers too who blithely voted to remain for entirely narcissistic identarian reasons.

There's a good reason for that. Since 2004 over on we have charted the travails of the EU and EU politics. As a niche blog it always struggled to maintain a readership, chiefly because the material is dry, technical and remote. Over the years we have lamented the absolutely appalling triviality of UK press coverage and the obliviousness of the media in how the EU directly affects domestic policy.

The fact is, unless there is a biff-bam showdown extending into the small hours in the morning, the UK press is not remotely interested, and as newspapers have pruned their staff we have seen the press lose any institutional knowledge or memory of events. Put simply, media follows what it perceived to be the centre of power. Consequently it does little more than indulge in the everyday gossip of Westminster, incapable of adding anything of value. The closest we get to intelligent examination of the issues if the Financial Times, which is often months and years behind the curve.

But then on the whole the media is a reflection of ourselves. We as a country couldn't be less interested in the EU. The reasons the media has pruned its EU reporting over the years is because people will generally only read the opinions that confirm their existing beliefs. This is the entire business model of the Daily Mail, Telegraph and the Express.

When it comes to foreign politics more people can name a US senator than can name an MEP - and many are barely even aware that Nigel Farage is an MEP. When it comes to the euro-elections people couldn't be less interested either. Turnout in 2014 was 35.6 percent. AC Grayling stamps his feet that the referendum was not a sufficient mandate. Well, do the math.

But this is why the EU cannot be a functioning democracy. Culturally we are wired toward London. We do not recognise the EU as a government, let alone a legitimate one. With such staggeringly low turnouts it has no mandate. Then, when we do have Euro-elections, they are generally treated either as an opinion poll on the EU in general or on the sitting government. The ritual is barely anything to do with the selection of representatives.

As to any practical function of for the EU, for the UK, as an island nation, we do not interact with Europe in the same way. If I lived in Strasbourg, I could, on a Saturday morning choose a day out in Geneva or Frankfurt - only a train ride away. If I lived in Brussels I could spend the day in France or Germany. Crossing borders, and formerly changing currency, is part of everyday life. There is a practical necessity for a high level or harmonisation and integration.

For the UK though, most of us don't cross the border very often. We have occasional holidays and business trips and even working for a flagship EU company like Airbus, you have maybe one or two day trips to Toulouse a month - even at management level. We are not part of the mainland culture, we don't share land borders and culturally we are very different. We're not like the French. We're nothing at all like the Mediterraneans and culturally more different to the Germans than I had previously thought.

The UK has different attitudes to things like animal welfare, we have different attitudes to work and different working cultures where unions and trade guilds are not so much a central part of the political landscape. All of these subtle distinctions require that we engineer our own politics and our own laws according to our own values. This is not a nationalist assertion. This is observable fact.

In this respect you could even say mainland Europe is too diverse for the EU to work. I can see the obvious case for a Northern European union because there s a clear necessity to it but the Euro is what happens when you try to artificially bind north and south and that brought Europe to the brink of financial collapse. The endemic political, economic and cultural differences have not been adequately resolved and accelerated convergence has not worked.

It was thought by Europe's social engineers that freedom of movement would bring about cultural harmonisation. That hasn't happened. We've seen Poles come to this country but largely bringing pockets of their own culture with them. I have no real objection to that but the deal is entirely asymmetrical. Brits don't go overseas because we don't speak the language and because we speak the first language of commerce there is not the same imperative to focus on foreign languages. But that means we're not working abroad in quite the same way, and of the ones who do, the nuclear engineers, scientists and businessmen were never prevented from working overseas regardless.

The agenda of the EU has been to gradually institute harmonisation according to its ideology, regardless of political consent, and every major move toward closer integration has been done by connivance and subversion. I still maintain that had we had a referendum on Lisbon we might not be leaving now. And had we not ratified Lisbon, exit might not be so painful.

Many have argued that we shouldn't leave because of the damage it would do. But that was always the central intent of EU policy. It was always designed to be irreversible which is why they never sought consent and have never been entirely truthful about the agenda.

And this is where the population of the UK have shown a greater wisdom than their politicians and the experts. They have long suspected, entirely correctly, that their "elites" have been doing something in their name that they would not consent to if asked outright. Now we face the price for the hubris of our politicians.

Because the UK has never been geographically or culturally joined with the EU, failing to notice its significance we have never been fully engaged members, with our political class more willing than the people. Our relationship with the EU should always have been an economic one based on trade and this is the mistake we are now in the process of correcting. As to the cost, we will pay a far higher price as we have lost touch with the art of governance and seen a systemic collapse of political competence.

Consequently we are now tasked with the reformation of UK politics. Our party system is burnt out and rotten to the core, our constitutional set up is long overdue a reboot and though Mr Corbyn is wrong about nationalising utilities, there are major structural defects in the markets as a result of EU membership and we are in urgent need of investment in infrastructure - which has been hampered by the dead hand of EU directives - harmonising rules for its own sake.

I argue that the UK has been imploding politically for some time and only now that our political class is faced with a serious undertaking do we see how broken and bereft it is. If it wasn't Brexit that brought it all crashing down then it would be something else. You can argue that we will lose jobs and influence but with these bozos at the helm, that was an inevitability and part of an overall trend anyway.

Economically Brexit might not be the smartest move we have ever made but actually no more stupid than joining in the first place. Politically though, it can be no other way. Without fixing the rot in our politics there is no possible way the UK is in any fit shape to participate in the global economy. Everything has changed since we were last an independent country and we need root and branch reform in order to reverse the trend. If that means taking a hit economically then so be it.

As it happens, as much as Corbyn has no answers, the Tories don't either. Labour is facing oblivion at the polls and though the Tories are riding high, the demolition job they will do as they make a dog's dinner of Brexit will see them consumed at the ballot box too. Revolutions eat their children.

That great democratic renaissance that many expected Brexit to be is not yet within our grasp. Brexit of itself is only a catalyst - an opportunity for change. I have a feeling things have to get a whole lot worse before they get better. I think we are seeing an accelerated version of this in the USA where we see Trump elected as a wrecker rather than a builder. America is getting a lesson and so are we.

In this, I have some considerable faith that we have turned a corner. All of a sudden we are seeing hitherto anonymous think tanks coming out of the woodwork, each presenting entirely new ideas to handle Brexit, sweeping aside the establishment think tanks who have grown lazy, dogmatic and corrupt. Trade is now a hot topic among ordinary people where just a year ago it was a virtually unexplored area of politics deferred to men in grey suits in Brussels. While our political class has no ideas, direction or energy, we cannot say the same of the people.

Sooner or later we will have a political clear out. The public need no persuading that Corbyn isn't an adult proposition for government, and if they are smart enough to work that out then they are smart enough to decide who should govern them. The Tories have tacit approval but it is on loan - and temporary at that. When the full force of Brexit hits, this will evaporate. The alarming passivity we have seen in recent years will evaporate also. From there we rebuild. In that respect, the sooner we leave the EU the better.

No comments:

Post a Comment