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Saturday, 19 November 2011

In or out?

As I noted the other day in this post, democracy is perceived in different ways by different people and at different times. Thus, for the anti-EU factions in the UK, the changes of government in the countries at the heart of the €uro crisis is "undemocratic" and one is given the impression that the democratically elected parliaments have been overthrown and unelected governors imposed. Yet, all that has happened is the unpopular and incompetent minority governments have been replaced, in Greece by a new coalition of sitting (elected!) MPs and in the other, by a new coalition, again composed of elected members already 'sitting' in the legislature. No different in fact to what happened when Mr Blair "retired" and handed over the reigns of power to Mr Brown without "consulting" the electorate.

I find myself amazed at some of the statments being made by presumably intelligent people. I have read in some blogs the assertion that "German Militarism" is once more a threat to the "freedom of Europe," that the whole EU is a "German plan to seize control of Europe" and many other similar, equally silly statements. For one thing present day Germany is far from "militaristic." In fact it is probably less "militaristic" than France or the UK. It has just slashed its Armed Forces, scrapping an entire class of modern frigates in the navy, entire regiments in the army and entire squadrons in the airforce. Having scrapped National Service, they are now struggling to recruit people for the services and, quite frankly, their focus is on protecting their own economy.

As for wishing to deprive anyone of their "democracy" I'd suggest that those making the charge should get a reality check. The German government operates and has done for as long as I can remember, on a coalition system. Everything the Chancellor does has first been fought over, argued and eventually voted on by the Bundestag. Then, sometimes, things still have to get the approval of the Landestags. There are 17 of those and they don't always do as the Bundestag recommends - far from it.

Yes, the proposals on the table at the moment is for a central committee which would determine the spending and borrowing levels for the member states. Yes, that takes control away from the member governments of their economies, but, frankly, if the peoples of those states want the stability of a solid currency, they have to surrender that control. No one is compelling them - if they want out, they probably still have the printing plates for their original currencies. The problem they would face, of course, is the value of that currency when they re-issue it. It could be just so much monopoly money ...

Does anyone accuse the USA of having "robbed" its constituent States of their democracy because Washington DC determines the spending and borrowing limits? No, and it is worth remembering that the US Dollar also went through a tramatic start up.

Frankly I think the UK news media, the vociferous anti-EU-ers and and the government of the UK have to step back, stop throwing their toys out of the pram and decide whether they want to be a part of a larger Europe, or vanish into obscurity all on their own. I rather think Scotland will take its own route in that event and remain a part of the EU and other parts may take the same decision. The UK is a Great Power because it has a nuclear deterent, it no longer has the armed forces that could fight a major war, in fact I suspect that the Falklands, if invaded now, would be left to the invaders with no more than some "diplomatic exchanges" in the UN.

The real problem for the UK media and others, as I see it, is that the rest of Europe has made plain that they will not be dictated to by a single member which consistently refuses to follow the same rules they demand everyone else should. There is a LOT wrong in the EU, not least the unelected Commission appointed by the Council of Ministers - who claim this is legitimate because THEY are elected. By some measures that is democratic...

It does seem to me to come down to a single issue. The UK has to make a decision, to stay in the EU or to withdraw. Personally I will be sad to see the latter because I do believe that the UKs best interests lie in being a part of Europe, but that certainly isn't helped by the utter lack of understanding of so  much of Europe's history, or of the manner in which so many government's function.

It is a very complex issue, but it isn't helped by the likes of Nigel Farage slinging mud and refusing to work with people to achieve what we would all like to see, a strong Europe, democratic, and able to show the world a fair dispensation for all its people. That won't happen if the mudslinging and wrecking continues.

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