Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

David Taylor Gooby; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

David Taylor Gooby; Columnist

Article excerpt


ITHOUGHT your piece earlier this month where you allowed the MEPs to set out five reasons for leaving the EU and five reasons for staying in was very good and informative.

As with all these debates what is important is what has actually happened, not what we would like to happen, or what could happen.

Your editorial spelled it out, there are two hard facts - we receive more aid from the EU than we do from the government, and we export to the single market. For those reasons alone you advocate staying in.

I could not help thinking that if the coming referendum is purely about economics, it will not be very exciting. It is much easier for the "No" campaign to arouse patriotic feelings.

Hugh Gaitskell, the then leader of the Labour Party, argued in 1962 " If we joined the EU it would be the end of Britain as an independent European state, the end of a thousand years of history!" It was a powerful argument.

The pro-EU case has got to have some vision and emotional appeal if it is to succeed. I was in church last Sunday and the vicar said that it was always difficult to preach about the Trinity, a difficult theological concept, because religion is essentially an emotional rather than an intellectual thing. Mind you, having said that she did a good job. But it made me think of parallels with Europe. It is a concept you actually believe in or you don't.

The idea of strong nation states was a 19th century one which caused a lot of trouble in the 20th as different states vied with each other for territory and influence.

In actual fact Europe is a patchwork of different ethnic groups and regions. The recent elections in Scotland have shown how these feelings are reviving.

The events in the former republic of Yugoslavia 20 years ago shows what happens when these nationalities and groupings are in dispute with each other. Separatist ideas are emerging in Spain. Do we want a Europe which fragments and has permanent suspicions and conflicts? …

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