The latest Eurofeud within Westminster is already well under way, as this blog as been discussing at some length in the recent weeks. It’s nice to know however, that the feuding isn’t for nothing, that there is a tangible purpose to the whole thing. The Eurosceptics are too extreme in my opinion but then the status quo-ticians are also deeply frustrating. The UK, by which I mean its primary constituent in its people, are for the greater part not happy with the current dynamic and are certainly not happy with the look of the future.
And Brussels today throwing down the continental law gauntlet is a perfect encapsulation of the public dissatisfaction. Adam Weiss of the Advice for Individual Rights in Europe outfit is not happy with Westminster trying to reform the benefits system where it pertains to migrants, and believes that everyone is entitled to the same access, quality and quantity of government support. Where the Queen’s Speech laid out the intention to limit these things to migrants, in the first step of government on the road to rendering UKIP obsolete, the European Commission takes Weiss’ side and says, “Non!”
I don’t necessarily agree with the legislative measure on principle, as it does seem jingoistic to say, “We get the full teet and they don’t because they ain’t from here.” It isn’t the strongest position to hold to but I can understand the political reasoning behind it, which is trying to calm a few frayed sensibilities. It may be misinformed to suggest our country is being overrun and that we can’t afford all the welfare support to these ‘mooches’, as we’re not being overrun and migrants are largely hard working folk, but perceptions of ownership of ones home nation are very sensitive and can’t be dismissed out of hand.
You could accuse various governments in the past couple of decades of having done this, and the result is this present surge in UKIP support, aided so handily by the currently poor economic climate being heavily informed by European problems. Being extraordinarily generous, that is a tenuous platform from which the EU is imposing their will upon the nation. Ian Duncan Smith, who has somehow evaded a medieval style tarring and feathering for his domestic reforms to welfare, now has a serious mandate to challenge the legal process we’re now being dragged through. He could emerge redeemed, or if he fails, possibly irrevocably disgraced.
The feeling will be that either he wasn’t effective enough, and so domestic welfare cuts will seem unfair against the inability to make reforms specific to foreign born residents, or it will seem that he couldn’t be effective even if he wanted to, and that is more fuel for the “out” campaigners. Either way, the Tories lose, UKIP win and if Europe had honest desires to keep the UK in the union, Europe loses too. I don’t have the least considered or moderate of positions on the question of Europe and even I am fairly outraged every time our judicial and legislative bodies are rendered impotent by a body I feel I have no connection to whatsoever.
It’s hard enough to feel engaged with even the domestic political situation sometimes. I get to vote in my MP and councillors and the minimal degree of democratic participation isn’t exactly thrilling. Don’t even try to sell me the idea of MEP’s, as they couldn’t possibly hope to make me feel more enfranchised than someone who represents a fraction of the people they are supposed to. This to me is the greatest flaw with the entire idea of the EU. By dragging the process up another tier and even further away from the hands of the people, they leave themselves wide open to accusations of technocracy.
Why can’t it be like the USA? Well for a start, the USA is hardly the model federal system itself, and to say it works isn’t altogether the truth. Ignoring the fact that European history is deeper, more complex, and replete with wildly different cultures, languages etc., there is in the USA a constant debate and struggle over the dynamic between state and federal authority. This coming from a nation that was founded with some federal principles, is a stunning indictment of the lack of reality in the thinking of those who believe Europe can be the same any time soon.
For this continent to evolve into something like the USA, it would take one hell of a lot more nuance and consideration from the drivers of the project, not to mention more time. This is complicated by a lot of recent indications, such as the failures of a lack of unified monetary policy within the Eurozone, that suggest the project must be brought forward with intent. But as a result we’ve seen in the past few years a proportional increase in dissatisfaction alongside every news report telling us that Europe tells us we can’t do this, that or the other.
It seems very clear that renegotiation is the best way forward for both parties. The historical impetus that drives the continental desire for the EU has never been rife in the UK and it’s time for the honest discussion that achieves a mutually desirable outcome. UKIP will only antagonise the debate and so let’s hope that Cameron takes a robust set of proposals to the table and that the EU is willing to listen. The sooner I know what exactly the heck Cameron thinks the renegotiated position is, the better, for everyone, because while I don’t want to be governed from outside the UK, I also don’t want the UK to slip into belligerent obscurity.