Thursday, 2 June 2016
EU: What is it for, not what has it done nor what does it cost. No other argument matters.
So let's start with the UK a sovereign state made up of four countries. We have a UK Parliament that passes laws and a government that runs the country, albeit with bits of devolved power to three of the four countries. England has been excluded from devolution being synonymous with the UK...
The UK makes some pretty crap decisions, yet we largely put up with them on the basis of democracy. Yes, a democracy that saw 24% of eligible voters put a single party in sole power of the UK and with one of the Westminster houses completely unelected - if this happened anywhere else you could imaging the US calling for regime change.
Even with the lack of democracy and the crap decisions we accept the need for a parliament and government at that level. I can only hear the Scottish people calling to leave the UK and even then they would still have a national government, just not ours.
The same principle of need should be the key argument applied to the EU and Brexit: Are there issues that need to be dealt with at multi-state level through a combined parliament and government?
Arguments about the EU being undemocratic are beyond bizarre once you actually look at how it is structured, especially as the election of MEPs is through proportional representation. The commission is not elected but neither is the UK's civil service, its equivalent, and it would bizarre to elect civil servants. The commission is heads of member states and is therefore elected too. The UK has far less democracy but we don't all campaign to leave the UK because it is undemocratic.
The EU makes some good and some bad decisions. So does the UK Parliament. The EU costs money to belong to even if it is not £350m each week (£6 per person per week) plus the UK costs far more to belong to, just look at your tax bill... But these are not reasons to leave the EU or the UK.
And the economy... free trade across the UK, free trade across the EU? I'm not a fan of free trade for the sake of it. It doesn't fit with the need for localism, it simply creates markets that pump wealth to already rich areas, it reduces overall resilience and creates markets that can crash together, and frankly we don't need more economic growth. That said, this is still the wrong discussion to have although it is moving in the right direction.
We need to be asking whether there are decisions that need to be made across a multi-state area that cannot be managed by states acting individually. If there are then there is a need for some form of government at that level. This is the only argument that matters and I am not hearing it in the debates or leaflets.
For me there are only two issues that fall in to this category: Peace and the environment.
Peace: We have been without war in Europe for over 70 years, and the EU will have contributed to this. Resolving conflicts has to be a core reason for the EU to exist, and resolving conflicts need a level of authority over the conflicted states rather than simply being an arbiter.
Environment: pollution doesn't recognise borders.
No other argument matters.