Monthly political analysis on nations in
economic or political transition
The European Union is one of the key alliances of the 21st century, effectively unifying the European democracies. With 300 million EU citizens, the great nations at the top are key players in world affairs, largely for historical reasons as well as their relative economic strengths. These include Germany, the UK, France, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Spain and Poland. After at least ten centuries of warfare between these nations and their forbears, following two ruinous European wars in the 20thC that subsumed into world wars they agreed, with the overarching aim of preventing future war to unite in a binding economic and political union, whilst remaining sovereign states.
The United Kingdom joined the EU late, in 1973 but throughout the intervening years, there has been hostility to the Union, mainly in England, orchestrated by newspapers particularly the flag- waving tabloid “The Daily Mail,” whose agenda is for the UK to leave the EU; and the more sober “Daily Telegraph,” that seeks to give the Conservative party its ideology.
Now the Prime Minister has offered, if the Conservatives are elected in 2014, to hold a referendum on EU membership.
The United Kingdom is going through a difficult time in terms of its identity. Having been a member of the European Union for 40 years this identity crisis is mostly a problem for the Conservative party of PM David Cameron the senior partner in a coalition with the UK’s centrist Liberal Democrats.
His backbench MPs are feeling threatened by the rise of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) whose profile is dangerously close to the Tory voters in numerous constituencies, who cheered on by the EU-hating “Daily Mail”, have concluded that the nation’s problems have mainly to do with the membership of the EU.
This is not the view of the Labour Opposition or the Liberal Democrat coalition partners in Government, nor do the polls show a majority for ‘regaining our liberty’ as UKIP starkly exaggerates. This is a problem that Cameron himself would have preferred to avoid, but seemingly cannot.
Our February mid-month article is written for us by Martin Woollacott of ‘The Guardian,’ and seeks to explain for our international readership what is stake here.