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Linkspam for 28-5-2009


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 28th, 2009 12:30 am (UTC)
Cheers, I'm glad I'm not the only link spammer. :-)
May. 28th, 2009 08:18 am (UTC)
Using matgb's adapted Delicious Glue script...
May. 28th, 2009 09:16 am (UTC)
Could it also be that, with the latest row, Cameron is trying to partly blame the EU for the voters feeling powerless?
May. 28th, 2009 12:10 pm (UTC)
The EU link is especially interesting, I think, because the author seems to misunderstand the difference between power and influence.

To use an analogy: as a wholly gened-up member of the patriarchy I am fully aware that the problem is not that women are without influence (clearly they are) but that they are systematically disempowered, and thereby also disenfranchised.

Clearly the British Parliament has (voted for itself) to be disempowered by the EU (for good and for ill), and it is inaccurate to suggest that it hasn't, however much influence we still wield.

It is also pretty evident that people then become disenfranchised: the appalling turnout at EU elections and the lack of engagement with that great long list of MEPs, diplomats etc. in the post to which you linked. This is the root of the democratic deficit, more so even than the hierarchy of accountability (or obscurity, depending!) in the institution itself.

It is therefore disingenous (not say contemptuous) of the poster to suggest that people would just shut up about the EU if we threw them a sop like a British-styled passport. That's like suggesting people would put up with a bit more of the patriarchy if only we buy them a few nice hats.

Whatever we do, I am suspicious that the status-quo best suits the aforementioned list of MEPs, diplomats, European lawyers etc. People on every side of the debate about the form and function of Europe need to find a way not only to maintain our influence at this level, but to empower and enfranchise the broader, and broadly disillusioned, citizens.

Cameron's approach to the EU is in line with his general theme of devolution of power to the lowest effective level; his position (as I understand it) is that there are some powers previously ceded to the EU that could be brought to the nation states (or indeed regional or local levels) in a way that is more sensitive to local needs.

This does not seem like an antedeluvian position born of Duncan-Smith-era UKIPpery, but something in line with a new, progressive agenda that I can support myself.

As an aside: I find it difficult when people argue on the one hand that devolution and local government are important, and on the other hand that we should continue to cede power to centralizing authorities, without effective democratic accountability! (The SNP, for example, struggles with this dichotomy.)

I notice that the poster has now half-apologized about the passport thing; but he still misses the fundamental point that it was the spirit of the suggestion that was so telling, not the fact of it.
May. 28th, 2009 07:11 pm (UTC)
Comments on a couple of the links:

1) The SF academic conference in Leuven looks interesting - couldn't have gone anyway, but it would have been nice to find out about it before it started. However, as an active British SF fan (and membership secretary of the BSFA), I note that I only recognised the names of about three of the programme participants. I guess there are some bridges to be built, sometime.

2) Cameron's attitude to the EU worries me - particularly as I think it actually does reflect that of much (probably most) of the British public. The trouble is that the British public completely misunderstands the relationship between the various EU institutions (though Cameron probably just disagrees with it) and how EU law has built up over the past 50 years (and here I suspect Cameron doesn't properly understand either).

The result is that any attempted renegotiation by Cameron of Britain's relationship with the EU is likely to end up as a complete mess. The bits of Lisbon that British opinion seems to object to most are often simple codifications of directives from the '70s or early '80s - or may even go right back to the Treaty of Rome. And changing them in the way that British opinion currently wants would end up effectively requiring redesigning much of the EU far more than any of the previous treaties have ever done - which most of the other EU governments (or even potential governments) are never going to accept.

So Cameron would either have to more or less fold and (as Wilson did in 1975) portray a few minor concessions, like getting back the traditional British passport, as victory - or stick it out. But what then?

Perhaps, people suggest, Britain leaves the EU and goes, say, for EEA status. Does this work? No. In practice, EEA countries have to accept a large proportion of EU legislation, including future legislation, in return for free access to EU markets, including precisely some of the things that British opinion finds most objectionable about EU membership - and without any direct voice in the future EU legislation.

In fact, I find it difficult to see any level of agreement between the EU and a Britain outside it that both parties would find more than minimally tolerable - and history seems to bear this out. The standard British (or rather English) reaction to this kind of European problem has been war - and staying at war, with perhaps the briefest of truces, until the European threat collapsed. We did it with Philip II, with Louis XIV, with Napoleon, with Kaiser Bill and with Hitler. So are we going to try to do it again? In practice, probably not, but I don't see an alternative that would work.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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