Reasons to Vote in the EU Elections

June 4, 2009

colin_pritchard_edit- Professor Colin Pritchard is a Research Professor in the School of Health & Social Care, Bournemouth University, whose research is increasingly linking problems of deteriorating human health and the wider environment. The opinions expressed are his own. -

One reason to vote in the EU elections is that on June 6, 1944 Europe was a slaughterhouse – the second time within 30 years. The EU may be imperfect but in the last analysis is one of the greatest progressive achievements of the 20th century, as it seeks to achieve the great political trilogy of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, and, albeit hesitatingly, seeks to implement the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Previous “Unions” of separate peoples were always created by force and maintained by tyranny – e.g. the Roman, Islamic, British, Hitlerite and Russian empires. Whilst even in that great bastion of Democracy, the U.S.A., it was only kept united by civil war.

Yet this European Union of free peoples; with their different languages, cultures, religions; their centuries old prejudices, who share the same bloody history of killing ourselves, have come together, freely, democratically and in an act of incredible political imagination, try to create a cohesive society of these most turbulent of peoples for the good of all.

In one life-time, France was brutally invaded by Germany, 1870-1914- 1940, the the French and Germans really know what war means, i.e. when the bombing, the house-to-house fighting is in and on your streets!

They had the vision to come together, not only for the immediate economic benefits but because they had the imagination to see that war could be ended in our continent for the first time since humans inhabited the place.

The core political debate should be about how the peoples want to see the Union develop and at what speed; what kind of Union do we want? Schematically, either a Union that is one of liberal capitalism or along a road to democratic socialism that seeks to operationalise the ideals within UN Declaration of Human Rights to achieve the core declaration become a reality “that all men are created equal”.

Some, probably rightly, complain that the EU is over over-regulated, not democratic enough etc, etc, though such critics who urge only `economic union’ forget that in a common market, inevitably one needs common rules and regulations for fair non-exploitive capitalism to flourish.

But in a world facing global climate catastrophes linked to thoughtless non-intended environmental rape of our planet, only a pooling of sovereignty of the peoples will escape the worst outcomes. The peoples of Europe can be far better represented together in the Union. Indeed, the EU has the potential to make a significant contribution to other countries and `unions’ to deal with the consequences that follow from trying to bring under control, the forces that our short-sighted management of the planet has caused.

Perhaps I should declare a vested interest? I am concerned for the future of my grandson and his generation. I am old enough to look back 30 years and still be a responsible adult, so I can see that when he is 33, and the targets we aimed to save the planet were not achieved, his generation will rightly curse us for our dereliction and failure of stewardship, as in our blindness, we still mouth those petty nationalistic, religious, regional, local and parish prejudices.

All we need is the vision to raise our eyes beyond today’s immediacy and have the imagination and optimism to see what is achievable.

But remember the warning of the ancients “the people that have no vision perish” Proverbs.

Comments

You are old, and remain under the influence of irrelevant fears from the mid 20th century. I was an enthusiast for European Union – as a naive utopian adolescent – but I have snapped out of my delusions at age nineteen. We are suffering from a crisis of democracy, we have been for twenty years, which we can only escape by bringing government closer to the people and basing it on entities with historical legitimacy, which the EU does not have. It is as absurd – and as insulting to our nation – to argue that the UK cannot meet all its responsibilities to its people and to the future as an independent nation, as to argue that Canada cannot be a success unless it joins the United States.

The EU has contributed nothing to Liberty, Equality or Fraternity of the British people. Out liberty is currently being undermined by a government that is drifting into authoritarian habits, but that government supports the EU project, and uses EU legislation to break down our traditional liberties. A superstate does nothing for equality. And as for Fraternity, I would love to feel it with the other countries of Europe, but they have to stop trying to destroy my nation’s sovereignty first.

Posted by Oliver Chettle | Report as abusive
 

One sometimes has to worry about those ‘clear headed men who are so clearly wrong’. This article reminds one that that there are plenty of woolly headed men who are even wronger.

Britain is sleep-walking into an unaccountable European bureaucratic dictatorship which will strongly resemble what Hitler and his successors might, by now, have achieved had they won the 2nd World War. The European political elites clearly see themselves as ubermenschen, who regard electorates as a nuisance which must vote for their ideas or, like the Irish, be forced to vote again and again until they give the ‘right answer’.

It is extremely unlikely that, without the EU, a war would have broken out again amongst Western European powers after the Second World War because the USSR was seen as the main potential enemy and the main bastion against it was the U.S.A. The argument made in favour the EU that it prevented another war is the most specious of the lot.

The unanswerable case for enhanced cooperation within Europe, commercially and otherwise, did not inevitably mean creation of a quasi-state. After all, world institutions for these purposes now exist without any suggestion that a world-government must follow. Even within Europe, a nation such as Norway can be self determining whilst cooperating with its neighbours in every important way.

It is sometimes said that, in the aftermath of empire, the only voice a country like Britain can have in the world is through organisations like the EU, the so-called ‘pooling of sovereignty’. This is nonsense. Britain was a beacon of order and principle admired throughout the world until recently. It is throwing in our lot with dodgy geezers like Berlusconi and Sarkozy which is damaging our reputation beyond repair.

European political elites are spectacularly corrupt and wrong-headed about so many things. To suggest that putting all the idiots together creates wisdom is palpable nonsense. What it dangerously does do, however, is suppress proper debate. The fate of whistleblowers within EU organisations is an appalling warning about what the European Empire will be like when it gets into its stride.

Even if climate change is as big a danger as Pritchard suggests [I think population growth is a far greater one, but no-one uses the same hyperbole about that], the last thing we need is Euro-windbags devoting their flatulent hypocritical rhetoric to it on our behalf. Far better that world organisations of technocrats quietly and rationally decide if there really is a problem and then work out sane solutions [i.e. ones which do not prevent poor African countries from developing reliable electricity supplies].

Posted by John Lamble | Report as abusive
 

Fortunately more and more of the British people are now recognising that this is just the sort of right-on utopian euro-twaddle that got us all into this appalling mess in the first place.

Posted by Matthew | Report as abusive
 
  •