So, apparently these UKIP fellows did bally well in the recent local elections. It appears that the Great British public like the beer drinking, fag smoking, only very occasionally photographed doing a Nazi salute, “man of the people” vibe that UKIP candidates portray. Their surge in popularity has sent the Conservatives into their traditional flatspin over all issues that might vaguely relate to Europe, and forced the government’s hand over the question of an EU referendum.
Now, I’m not generally in favour of referenda (as I explained all the way back here). It’s a wariness linked to my general slight unease with the whole democracy thing. It’s all very well letting the people decide, but I’ve met people and some of them are not that bright.
It seems to be quite widely accepted that, given the choice, the British would probably vote against further EU integration and may even vote to leave the EU altogether. There’s some interesting poll stats from last November here. Attitudes to European integration are fascinating, and seem to go right to the roots of how we, as individuals, view our place in society and the wider world. It’s not at all weird or unusual for an English person to be opposed to Irish republicanism, opposed to Scottish independence, and also opposed to the European Union, when, in a sense, those are all questions of where we draw lines on maps, of who we consider part of the “us” rather than the “them.”
And that’s why, purely based on gut instinct, I’m massively in favour of the EU, massively in favour of us learning to see ourselves as European, as well as British. I think it’s a positive thing when we make our mental “us” as big and inclusive as possible. I think drawing lines between people, whether those lines are based on religion, race, gender, sexuality or geography, is just not a particularly nice thing to do.
It’s probably not a terribly practical thing to do either. Big business is now international. Organised crime is international too. Whatever the rhetoric, small national governments are struggling to get multinationals, like Google, Amazon etc. to pay national taxes and work within the letter of national regulation. Government/regulation on a continental scale might have a fighting chance.
So, yay Europe so far as I’m concerned, although it’s not a point of view you’re likely to hear vigorously expounded by too many politicians at the moment, which is a shame. It’s symptomatic of the wider problem of how modern politicians are led by polls and focus groups, rather than being prepared to try to influence and persuade based on their own beliefs. Ho-hum.
I think I mentioned, a few weeks ago, that I was maybe going to hold off the more political blogging in future. I’d say that was going well, wouldn’t you?