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The UK: In or Out of Europe?

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  • The UK: In or Out of Europe?

    Another string to this debate is whether Britain is part of Europe.

    An apocryphal newspaper headline once read,"Fog in Channel, Continent Cut Off". We talk of going on holiday on 'the continent' and object vociferously to being part of the EU and being controlled by 'Europe'.

    So are we Europeans? I feel more European than I do British.

  • #2
    Originally posted by porcus_volans View Post
    Another string to this debate is whether Britain is part of Europe.

    An apocryphal newspaper headline once read,"Fog in Channel, Continent Cut Off". We talk of going on holiday on 'the continent' and object vociferously to being part of the EU and being controlled by 'Europe'.

    So are we Europeans? I feel more European than I do British.
    I would say no ... through history the continental countries have shown a singular disdain for the peoples of Britain. And it has certainly, at times, been vice versa.

    De Gaulle, Bonaparte and Sarkozy(France), Hitler (Germany/Austria), The Roman Empire and Mussolini (Italy) have been by far the worst offenders as far as continent vs Britain goes (although in their defence, De Gaulle and Sarkozy have been vocally rather than militarily hostile).

    Unfortunately, as always, the general public of the countries in question are caught in the middle ... people have no real problems with people. The problems arise when politicians enter the mix (at the moment, the main one here is Salmond vs Cameron on the issue of Scots independence from the Union) and start using history (in some cases a blinkered and rewritten view of it) to stir up dissent against other countries.

    As to your main comment there Porcus, I feel more British than European, and sincerely believe that we would be better off trying to re-strengthen our ties to the commonwealth than remaining within the unelected and undemocratic EU ... and having the yes/no referendum on membership that the public have said time and time again that they want, but have been denied ... even by way of legalised vote rigging (the 3 line whip).
    Twitter: The system that put paid to the old adage 'politicians only lie when their lips start moving'

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Timberwolf View Post
      As to your main comment there Porcus, I feel more British than European, and sincerely believe that we would be better off trying to re-strengthen our ties to the commonwealth than remaining within the unelected and undemocratic EU ... and having the yes/no referendum on membership that the public have said time and time again that they want, but have been denied ... even by way of legalised vote rigging (the 3 line whip).
      Totally agreed, TW.

      If I was conspiracy minded I might believed that our politicians have been 'social engineering' the country to more euro-compliant. Oddly, I found my Open University MBA re-enforcing this cultural and social differences from the various academic works.
      Papa was a Rolling Stone......

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Pebble View Post
        If I was conspiracy minded I might believed that our politicians have been 'social engineering' the country to more euro-compliant. Oddly, I found my Open University MBA re-enforcing this cultural and social differences from the various academic works.
        Funnily enough that is an idea that has been brought up quite a few times over the years about the directions that the British government have taken, and also about the way the EU is organised.

        The social engineering aspect is also, bringing us back to the original thread topic, another reasoning that has been given on many occasions for the 'pigeonholing' of certain countries or geographical areas together in media and political arenas. The EU, at one point, were trying to rezone the state borders within Europe ... a move which would have, as an example, seen parts of England being zoned into French borders, and Scotland (or part thereof) being rezoned as a Scandinavian territory.
        Twitter: The system that put paid to the old adage 'politicians only lie when their lips start moving'

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        • #5
          Originally posted by porcus_volans View Post
          Another string to this debate is whether Britain is part of Europe.
          Geographically - which I think is the only way you can view this objectively - Britain is located on the European continental shelf (indeed the island was once connected physically to France by a causeway long long ago apparently) so as far as I'm concerned it's entirely right to say that Britain is part of Europe.



          Politically, it's more nuanced. I think there's a lot of paranoia (sorry) on the part of some sections of society/the right/the media - of which the Dailies Mail and Express are among the worse culprits (sorry) - that 'Europe' (by which they mean 'Brussels') usually) is somehow trying to take over the country. There's plenty of things wrong with Brussels - it seems fairly unaccountable to the presumptive electorate for a start - but as long as Britain continues to play the hokey-cokey where Europe is concerned (by which I mean, neither fully in nor fully out) we're never going to be able to influence the European project in a meaningful way. I think that part of the problem is that having had an Empire, which we were forced to give away, it's difficult to accept our becoming part of someone else's Empire, although historically it wouldn't be the first time (i.e. Pax Romana).

          Maybe because I don't think Britain's ever fully engaged in/with Europe I find it hard to think of myself mentally as European first and British second although intellectually that's where I think I (we) should be. In practice, I tend to think of myself as Welsh/English first (in that order), then British and then European.
          _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
          _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
          _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
          _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

          Comment


          • #6
            I can certainly see where you're coming from there David, but there are a couple of points I'd like to answer here ... I won't bother with the physical/geographical aspect, because that is beyond doubt, Britain is indeed a part of the same continental shelf as the rest of Europe.

            Originally posted by David Mosley View Post
            Politically, it's more nuanced. I think there's a lot of paranoia (sorry) on the part of some sections of society/the right/the media - of which the Dailies Mail and Express are among the worse culprits (sorry) - that 'Europe' (by which they mean 'Brussels') usually) is somehow trying to take over the country.
            Now I think that is an unfair statement as a generalisation. Admittedly the media have their own agendas where the EU and Brussels are concerned, but singling out the Mail and Express as the worst culprits is a little naive (not a personal comment, read on and you'll see why I think this way). True, if you simply look at it from a pro-EU stance then you are 100% correct, but looking at it from a neutral standpoint The Guardian is just as bad an offender through their habit of burying their heads in the sand when things go pear shaped.

            Also, bearing in mind that Britain is one of the few countries that never had a say on entering and remaining within the politicised EU, it should be quite evident where the paranoia and resentment comes from (especially when you look at the broken referendum promises from all sides, as well as the erosion of such aspects of Britain as our legal system and border controls through judgements from Brussels)

            Originally posted by David Mosley View Post
            There's plenty of things wrong with Brussels - it seems fairly unaccountable to the presumptive electorate for a start - but as long as Britain continues to play the hokey-cokey where Europe is concerned (by which I mean, neither fully in nor fully out) we're never going to be able to influence the European project in a meaningful way.
            The major issue with the EU in its current form is that there are many and varied problems, but with them being unelected and unaccountable, they very rarely (if ever) do anything to correct them, which is another thing that raises the frustrations in the population. As for fully engaging in Europe, that in the current climate has been proven to be a relatively good move ... had we been part of the Eurozone, we would be in a far worse position than now (at the moment, at least we have control of our own economy to a greater extent, had this not been the case we would not have had the option to limit our increase in outgoings to the EU, while also losing the power to retain what little of our rebate remains ... The French government has tried to have this removed twice in the last few years while hypocritically hanging onto their own)

            Originally posted by David Mosley View Post
            Maybe because I don't think Britain's ever fully engaged in/with Europe I find it hard to think of myself mentally as European first and British second although intellectually that's where I think I (we) should be. In practice, I tend to think of myself as Welsh/English first (in that order), then British and then European.
            I have always thought of myself as British first, English second and European a very distant third ... which bearing in mind the disdain and contempt that is held for Britain by certain sections of Europe for various reasons (and yes, I realise that in some cases the feelings run both ways), is where I believe it should be. However, what I think should happen is that the question should be answered once and for all ... let the electorate have their say on the matter, no loaded questions, no block voting, just a straight referendum. Accept the result and draw a line under it.
            Last edited by Timberwolf; 03-07-2012, 01:31 PM. Reason: extra info
            Twitter: The system that put paid to the old adage 'politicians only lie when their lips start moving'

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            • #7
              IMHO Britain is a member of the EU because successive governments believe that the trade it generates benefits us more than the downside of the political and judicial interference that Brussels perpetrates.

              There is a complicated risk assessment that has to be made that covers the relative risk to Britain of trade vs interference vs commercial isolation/independence (depending on your stance).

              Currently the benefits are seen to outweigh the risks so we retain membership.

              The story would be completely different if a future government decided to put the question to the country but I don't believe that will happen in the foreseeable future.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by porcus_volans View Post
                IMHO Britain is a member of the EU because successive governments believe that the trade it generates benefits us more than the downside of the political and judicial interference that Brussels perpetrates.

                There is a complicated risk assessment that has to be made that covers the relative risk to Britain of trade vs interference vs commercial isolation/independence (depending on your stance).

                Currently the benefits are seen to outweigh the risks so we retain membership.

                The story would be completely different if a future government decided to put the question to the country but I don't believe that will happen in the foreseeable future.
                Again true Porcus, but the problem there arises with the assumption of these successive governments that they can continue making judgements without public remit (one of the main features of a dictatorship). In a system such as we have here, the electorate will eventually have their say ... and it has been made quite clear over successive governments that the EU has been one of the main reasons for their failure to be re-elected. Conversely it has also been proven that promises on the issue have contributed massively to the following governments popularity (and the lack thereof when the promises turn out to be so much hot air).

                Bearing in mind that the referendum in the 1970s (the one that politicians use as a reason for denying a current and up to date one) was talking about continued membership of the EEC, which was an economic bloc supplementing our own agreements with the Commonwealth, the trade generated by the EU when squared up against the trade we lost when our representatives chose Europe over Commonwealth as a primary trade source is playing catch up ... add this to the judicial and political interference from EU central and the deal doesn't look as good as most of the fiercely pro-EU advocates would paint it.
                Twitter: The system that put paid to the old adage 'politicians only lie when their lips start moving'

                Comment


                • #9
                  To me the problem is the age-old one of Britain thinking it can go it alone because that's what the Victorians did back in the days of Empire (you know, back when we had slavery and sent children up the chimmnies - ah, happy days!). As I see it, basically everything went wrong in 1957 when Britain declined to be one the founding nations of the EEC (because we thought we were better/bigger than France, W. Germany, Italy and the Benelux?) and then when we changed our minds three years later DeGaulle vetoed our membership for (imo) petty vindictive reasons. (Grud, I hate that man with a passion!)

                  *cough* Anyway, to cut a long story short, when we finally joined the EEC in 1975 Britain was one of a club of nine (later twelve); now we're one of a club of twenty-seven, probably we'll be one of a club of thirty in a few more years. Correspondingly any influence we might have has gradually diminished from ~10% to ~3%, which is further compounded by the fact that the UK Govt has a tendency of leaving the party to go and sulk in the kitchen with the ugly kids further reducing our impact on policy decisions. (You only have to look at Cameron's recent 'veto triumph' to see how worthless our supposed veto is in the actuality.)

                  An associated problem is that Britain, seemingly alone among the EU countries, is the only member to take its decisions seriously. Most of the the member nations seem quite happy to ignore or dilute any directive that comes out of Brussels whereas the UK not only implements it to the letter but boilerplates it with a chunk of additional legislation just to ram the point home. Why we keep doing this is a mystery to me, although as someone who naturally tries to avoid bending the rules myself (even when it doesn't benefit me) it's a position I have a great deal of sympathy with.

                  Ultimately my feeling is Britain should either cleave 100% to the European project and forget about sovereignty or get out and be done with the whole experiment and live with the economic consequences of being outside this supranational entity on our doorstep rather our present shilly-shallying of being neither hot or cold and pleasing no-one. My gut feeling is that the former is the economically safer option but then I'm not an economist.
                  _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                  _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                  _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                  _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Timberwolf View Post
                    Again true Porcus, but the problem there arises with the assumption of these successive governments that they can continue making judgements without public remit (one of the main features of a dictatorship). In a system such as we have here, the electorate will eventually have their say ... and it has been made quite clear over successive governments that the EU has been one of the main reasons for their failure to be re-elected. Conversely it has also been proven that promises on the issue have contributed massively to the following governments popularity (and the lack thereof when the promises turn out to be so much hot air).

                    Bearing in mind that the referendum in the 1970s (the one that politicians use as a reason for denying a current and up to date one) was talking about continued membership of the EEC, which was an economic bloc supplementing our own agreements with the Commonwealth, the trade generated by the EU when squared up against the trade we lost when our representatives chose Europe over Commonwealth as a primary trade source is playing catch up ... add this to the judicial and political interference from EU central and the deal doesn't look as good as most of the fiercely pro-EU advocates would paint it.
                    I'm not sure whether it is really a case of whether there is a democratic remit or not, TW. It's more to do with political bottle.

                    Whichever government goes to the country for a decision on whether we stay in or not knows full well that the answer will be a resounding NO. In which case they would be forced to pull Britain out of the EU and live with the consequences. Nobody knows whether we would be better or worse off but, if it turned out to be the latter, the party that put the country in that position would be unelectable for generations to come. That would take the sort of political bottle that is in very short supply in this country.

                    I agree that that is fundamentally undemocratic, but it is pragmatic and I, for one, would much rather have politicians that make unpopular but pragmatic decisions for the good of the country than populist ones that subject the country's economy and future to unknown risk to make a political point. Better the devil you know.....

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by porcus_volans View Post
                      Nobody knows whether we would be better or worse off but, if it turned out to be the latter, the party that put the country in that position would be unelectable for generations to come.
                      Which is precisely why democracy is patently a bad idea; because - if I understand you correctly - what we appear to be saying is the Great British Public desperately wants to get out of Europe (allegedly - personally I'm not sure I believe it actually but we'll let that pass and assume the assumption is correct) but any Government who was foolish enough to give the GBP what they (think they) want only for it to all go 'Pete Tong' would somehow get the blame for actually listening to the electorate for once because the GBP wouldn't have the balls to hold their collective hand up and admit they were wrong? I'm all for people taking responsibility for their actions but the fact that the GBP keeps voting for the same broken political system every five years rather then telling the political parties 'you know what, you're actually a big part of what's wrong with this country' clearly is only interested in abdicating their responsibilities to someone else.

                      Which is why I don't think it ultimately matters agreat deal whether 'Westminster' or Brussels rules us at the end of the day.
                      _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                      _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                      _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                      _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by porcus_volans View Post
                        I'm not sure whether it is really a case of whether there is a democratic remit or not, TW. It's more to do with political bottle.

                        Whichever government goes to the country for a decision on whether we stay in or not knows full well that the answer will be a resounding NO. In which case they would be forced to pull Britain out of the EU and live with the consequences. Nobody knows whether we would be better or worse off but, if it turned out to be the latter, the party that put the country in that position would be unelectable for generations to come. That would take the sort of political bottle that is in very short supply in this country.

                        I agree that that is fundamentally undemocratic, but it is pragmatic and I, for one, would much rather have politicians that make unpopular but pragmatic decisions for the good of the country than populist ones that subject the country's economy and future to unknown risk to make a political point. Better the devil you know.....
                        I would say that a democratic remit was something that any government who relies on an electorate to retain their position should be acutely aware of. As you say, it is political bottle that is needed for that sort of action ... unfortunately our politicians (on all sides) have made claims to a referendum, and have all backed out quite clearly because they never had an intention to hold said vote in the first place.

                        As for a party being unelectable if it turned out to leave us worse off ... we have ended up worse off year on year since the days of John Major (increasing foreign spending, cuts to domestic spending, uncontrolled borrowing, increased aid bill, etc, etc) but each time it has been forgotten by a large number of the population very quickly ... usually on the back of groundless manifesto promises.

                        It may be pragmatic, but don't make the error of thinking that it is for the good of the country ... career politicians have no interest in what is good for Britain, because that comes a poor third to their own interests and those of their party, a fact that has been proven time and time again, and the interests of the electorate come further down yet.

                        'Better the devil you know' is a rather poor choice of phrase, as at one time the Commonwealth was the devil we knew, and we were getting a far better mutual deal out of there than we are out of the EU.


                        Originally posted by David Mosley View Post
                        Which is why I don't think it ultimately matters agreat deal whether 'Westminster' or Brussels rules us at the end of the day.
                        I would personally say that is a dangerous view to hold ... If Brussels rules, we have no recourse no matter what they do ... and going by their track record, not much of it would be to Britain's , at least with Westminster we can get rid of them at the end of a term.
                        Last edited by Timberwolf; 03-08-2012, 08:02 AM. Reason: Extra reply added
                        Twitter: The system that put paid to the old adage 'politicians only lie when their lips start moving'

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Timberwolf View Post
                          ...at least with Westminster we can get rid of them at the end of a term.
                          And who do we replace them with? The other lot we threw out the term before that, that's who!

                          Allow me to illustrate my point:
                          But as the animals outside gazed at the scene, it seemed to them that some strange thing was happening. What was it that had altered in the faces of the pigs? Clover's old dim eyes flitted from one face to another. Some of them had five chins, some had four, some had three. But what was it that seemed to be melting and changing? Then, the applause having come to an end, the company took up their cards and continued the game that had been interrupted, and the animals crept silently away.

                          But they had not gone twenty yards when they stopped short. An uproar of voices was coming from the farmhouse. They rushed back and looked through the window again. Yes, a violent quarrel was in progress. There were shoutings, bangings on the table, sharp suspicious glances, furious denials. The source of the trouble appeared to be that Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington had each played an ace of spades simultaneously.

                          Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.
                          In other words, to belabour the point, chopping and changing between Conservative and Labour every few years rather smacks of rearranging deck chairs as long as we continue to be participants in Europe.
                          _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                          _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                          _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                          _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by David Mosley View Post
                            Originally posted by Timberwolf View Post
                            ...at least with Westminster we can get rid of them at the end of a term.
                            And who do we replace them with? The other lot we threw out the term before that, that's who!

                            Allow me to illustrate my point:
                            But as the animals outside gazed at the scene, it seemed to them that some strange thing was happening. What was it that had altered in the faces of the pigs? Clover's old dim eyes flitted from one face to another. Some of them had five chins, some had four, some had three. But what was it that seemed to be melting and changing? Then, the applause having come to an end, the company took up their cards and continued the game that had been interrupted, and the animals crept silently away.

                            But they had not gone twenty yards when they stopped short. An uproar of voices was coming from the farmhouse. They rushed back and looked through the window again. Yes, a violent quarrel was in progress. There were shoutings, bangings on the table, sharp suspicious glances, furious denials. The source of the trouble appeared to be that Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington had each played an ace of spades simultaneously.

                            Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.
                            In other words, to belabour the point, chopping and changing between Conservative and Labour every few years rather smacks of rearranging deck chairs as long as we continue to be participants in Europe.
                            Orwell excellent example, and a point well taken. But as I stated in another thread, the reason for this isn't that people want to do so, it is that there is a naive core of voters who vote the way their fathers and grandfathers did ... which is always going to give the main two parties a head start over the competition. But as the Titanic quote has come up here, I'd rather be re-arranging deck chairs under Westminster than be sat in third class while the Brussels crew lock the gates and strand everyone below decks.

                            Unfortunately the situation between the Cons and Lab will only be sorted out if 1: a good sized lump of the electorate can be educated to make their own minds up instead of letting their great great grandfather do it for them, 2: Other parties have to make themselves electable, and 3: Election manifestoes should be created as legal documents, because over the last 2 governments, almost no election promises have been honoured ... then again, career politicians are known as the biggest tellers of half- and un- truths in the world.
                            Twitter: The system that put paid to the old adage 'politicians only lie when their lips start moving'

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                            • #15
                              Even if being french may i ?

                              1) I agree that European communauty is a scandal of lack of democracy, and a that all the people of europe have been force fed this monster. When french rejected the treaty, politicians agreed to modify constitution to implement it.

                              2) Matter is not to vote for one party or another one, matter is to change the present system. Humankind will kill the planet and itself much more fast than many believe.

                              3) Even if present Europe is a shame, Europe is a great idea. It was born from WW II and the will not to have a repeat. It was born from the idea that we have common values to share and to protect.

                              Other idea was that between the super powers, european countries, isolated, would have become vassals. To preserve our strength, we needed to unite.

                              From there there were 2 conceptions of Europe.

                              First one is that Europe must become a political union of the european people, a brotherhood ....

                              Second one is that Europe must become a common market and nothing more. The use of this one being the opening of the market to the goods and financial products of MY country using my competitive advantages.

                              The tenant of the second view of EC have promoted the coming in of every new candidate neglecting to strengthen the bases of the building.

                              Everyone knew that EC institutions were not apt to function beyoind 12 countries and nothing was really done.

                              4) As a french, i see that UK did not want to enter EC. When she came in, she did not accept comon rules.

                              May i remind you the Thatcher policy wanting back her money ...... solidarity was a vain word for her.

                              And every tentative of building an autonomous EC was fought by almost every british governement, prefering dependency to the USA rather than an independant Europe. I don't need to talk about the Iraqi war ......

                              5) Add the globalisation and the removing of rules about financial market and you get all the ingredients of the present mess.

                              Irony is that today, UK naval pilots must come in France to train and that UK governeemtn has concluded an agreement with France about nuclear weapons no to loose technology .....

                              6) Last, i feel european, i feel France and i love Great Britain ......

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