Euromania Has Become a Cult
Buxton, Audrey, Contemporary Review
Ministers were wondering this year what has happened in Britain to the `feel good factor'. Oddly enough some of them seem to look no further than the economy and its various components to find solutions.
Vital as these things are, no matter how good the economy or how spectacular some passing boom, people can still feel very insecure. In fact they feel bad if they are not proud of their country and its standing in the world, and if they lack confidence in their leaders. On the subject of Europe they are seriously confused.
The majority do not know what is happening to their ancient freedom and independence, which has never been in question for fifty generations or more. Many citizens have lost confidence in the leaders of political parties, they feel they have been misled, under-informed, and treated with far less than the respect to which in times of national change or danger great British leaders in the past have always considered them entitled. Most present day politicians seem to have undervalued the British citizen's capacity for perception and intuition. The people know they have not been trusted and are being betrayed by the Parties, and it is naive of politicians to even think the nation can be pushed blindly into the Eurotrap.
This is not a Party issue and it has produced the bizarre situation that there is no formal Opposition on European matters. In my lifetime the only previous period of any significance when the Parties marched in step was during the last world war. But then the nation itself was solidly behind them. Parliament and people were united and however daunting the outlook they had never felt so good, even when we stood totally alone, and when what was left of the free world believed we were certain to be defeated.
It would be presumptuous of me as a Peer to write about the House of Commons, but I can give a broad brush impression of the Lords, and it is the broad impression which the nation gets. Debates and Questions on Europe have become weird and unreal. On most occasions the minister concerned trots out a standard eulogy of economic and fiscal facts and figures which are never tested or proved, but which are invariably lavish in their credit to the European Union or the Commission. A Shadow Minister then chimes in with dutiful support, leaving the Government spokesman clear of challenge and concern.
Take this exchange for example between Lady Chalker, a spirited and eloquent minister, and the leader of the Labour Opposition (Hansard 7.6.95), just one small example of hundreds:
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, I would have thought that some
of the benefits are known to those who read unbiased reports of what is
going on. Membership of the European Union has made Britain a magnet
for inward investment. Since 1979, more then 635,000 well-paid jobs have
come to the UK because of the investment that we have gained; that
included more than a quarter of a million jobs in the past five years alone.
Britain attracts one-third of all inward investment that comes into the
European Union: 43 per cent from the US; 41 per cent of Japanese
investment; and 50 per cent of Korean. That investment would not have
come to the country if we were outside the European Union.
Lord Richard: My Lords, will the Minister accept that we should like to
congratulate her upon the robust commonsense of her Answer and the
forthright language in which she expressed it? May I assure her that, if the
Government continue speaking in that vein, they will receive the support of
No questions, no analysis, no doubts. Is it all really so unbelievably simple? This blatant unanimity is on a subject so momentous that nothing comparable has ever happened in the history of the British people. …