At the present time the Westminster Government is having trouble with the choreography of the EU Hockey-Cockey. There is a major stramash going on as to whether the present move is left leg in, both legs out or in out, in out shake it all about. The Blue Tories have been arguing it should be both legs out whilst the Red Tories have been arguing it should be left leg in / right leg out while the Yellow Tories think it is in out, in out, shake it all about. The Tory dancing master is trying to shout over the 'both legs out' camp that it should be left leg in and he was wrong saying it was 'both legs out'. Meanwhile the other 27 EU dancers are firmly in the 'both legs in' camp. The problem is that apart from a few academics and esoteric types no one appears to have a clue as to why the EU is an issue. We know what we have been told about silly laws over cucumbers and the like by the UK Meeja but most of us know squat diddly about the why, what, where or how that would enable us to have an informed decision on 'in out and shake it all about'.
Wee Eck and his Frankenstienian creation, Nicola, (who apprently Eck cobbled together from bits of Wendy Wood, Winnie Ewing and Margo McDonald according to a New Labour spokesperson) are plum dead sure that an independent Scotland should be in the 'both legs in' camp while a number of quite thoughtful Scots are equally sure we should be in the 'both legs out' camp. Yet our pals over in Norway (both legs outists) are suggesting for a whole load of reasons we should take the 'both legs in' option if it is offered. My problem is I can not see any real objective evidence for either case. My gut instinct pleads for EFTA (both legs out) while my brain is not convinced either way. The problem with the current Westminster Hokey-Cockey argument is that it is primarily on political lines and is not actually about the EU, as such, and more about voter point scoring by the Blue and Red Tories as they seek opinion poll success in their long run up to, what I hope will be, the first elections to the new sovereign parliament for England and Wales in 2015.
I thought the best place to start was to ask myself what is my personal dislike, fear and distrust of the EU based on? Just what informs my 'gut instinct'?
My informed political views were built during the 1960s and at that point the EU seemed to be all about De Gaulle and his repetitive 'Non' to the UK joining the then European Common Market (aka the European Economic Community - EEC). The idea of a Europe open for business made sense to me as a teenager and the advantages of the free flow of people within the EEC made great sense as did doing away with passports, visas and other clutter that benighted even holidays from the UK to Europe in the 60's. The EEC was about making it easier for people to meet and communicate with each other at personal and business levels. The EEC was steeped in the disasterous conflicts of the 20th Century in Europe, a political device to prevent further conflict and a focus to reconcile Western European nations through economic, research and development co-operation. In this the EEC and its successor the European Union have been highly successful especially since the end of the 'Soviet block' and the intergration of these ex-Soviet states into what is now the European Union. In all of this the EU and its predecessor organisations have been very successful - even in the case of the break up of Yugoslavia. So over all my experience of the EU in terms of its core values, aims and objectives is highly positive and yet there is this seediness in my stomach about the EU as it is at present and is currently developing.
Sadly it is something to do with the 'cucmber type laws and directives' even though I understand that most EU legislation is about a level playing field and the common good of all members. For me this growing concern about the EU as a political structure has its flowering in the present fiscal disaster in the Euro zone and exemplified by what is happening in Greece. To all intents and purposes Greece's economy is now being run from Bonn by an unelected group of technocrats who appear to have the sole aim of 'saving the Euro'. I have this sense that the Euro has now become more important in the scheme of things than the member states. Member states economies will expect to be sacrificed for the good of the Euro. The Euro has become an agent of economic imposition rather than economic freedom. For me it is an examplar of an EU that is shifting from being an agency for international co-operation towards being an agency of micromanagement and control. This increasing sense of the EU as an organisation 'bigger and more important than its constituent nations'. This concern is enhanced further when the reality of the inability of the EU Parliament to hold commissioners to account is considered. Commissioners appear to be only accountable to the EU Council of Ministers and the commissioner's job allocation is a 'carve up' based on political need of national parliaments and treaty deals within the EU rather than the best person for the job. The commissioners are appointed by the Council of Ministers - hence why people of the calibre of a Mandellson or Rompuy gain traction, they will do what they are told to do in return for privileges and a fat salary cheque.
At the core of the trouble will be the Euro and the illogical defence of a fiscal experiment that has failed simply because the fiscal system can not reconcile all the different micro economies in each nation state with the overal requirements of a single currency, to enable the Euro to work. The very opposite of the core principle of subsidiarity on which the EU is based.
So my 'gut instinct' is about the sense of a supranational organisation that has lost its way, forgotten what it is about and is in danger of creating, within Europe, the self same set of circumstances it was created to avoid over five decades ago; circumstances that will increase tensions within and between the EU's constituent nations.