“Hey EU, don’t make it bad, sing a sad song, and make it better”.
Yes, during the march for Europe the protesters sang “Hey Jude” by the Beatles, replacing the word “Jude” with “EU”. This is all very amusing, but also utterly cringeworthy. They have pinned all of their gushing idealism and progressive values onto the EU, unquestioningly believing it to be the true embodiment of them.
I am not one to deny the benefits that the EU has brought to Britain and Europe and I do not pretend there are not advantages to membership. I don’t call it the “EUSSR”, believe it is evil or seek to sever all ties and turn away from it; I just made a decision based on my own principles that we should begin the process of leaving and choose a different future.
Such naive devotion to such a powerful, and power hungry, unaccountable and un-transparent organisation is unfathomable to me. This kind of blinkered Europhilia has bought totally into the utopianist vision of the EU as a purely benevolent, peaceful project that always acts in the best interests of its people and tempers the excesses of the nation state for the betterment of all. But who tempers the excesses of the EU?
Political power needs constraining and politicians and officials must be kept in check and held accountable; this is what democracy is for. The sense that the EU was anti-democratic and that the people were increasingly losing power over how they were governed and who governed them was a major factor in over 17 million people in Britain voting to leaving in the biggest democratic exercise this country has ever seen.
The EU is clearly not going to be held to account by the fawning #marchforeurope protestors singing sweet songs of pathetic adulation. Where is the scepticism in individuals who believe the EU is the antidote to nationalism but are happy to slavishly paint their faces with the ring of stars and wrap themselves in the flag of this aspiring state?
We shouldn’t stand for their sanctimony.
They frame the debate as a choice between an independent Britain that is regressive and a European Union that is progressive. This is a powerful supranational organisation that has ruined the economies of Southern Europe and sent youth unemployment soaring because of the ideological zeal for the euro; which was intended to be a catalyst for deeper political integration.
It has sacrificed Greece on the altar of the euro dream and has now turned it into a prison for refugees. It has made amoral deals with the rotten regimes in Turkey and Sudan to do its dirty work out of the view of the European media as it seeks to compensate for its woeful initial response to the refugee crisis. It has pillaged the seas of Africa with its exploitative fishing deals and hindered its development with its bullying and dogmatic trade policies.
Its anti-democratic streak is instinctual. When voters cause problems that obstruct the goals of the project they are overruled. When Denmark voted against the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 and Ireland against the Nice Treaty in 2001 and the Lisbon Treaty in 2008, they were told to go away and come back with the right answer. When France and the Netherlands voted against the European Constitution in 2005, their decision was disregarded. The inevitable consequence of power being so far removed from ordinary people is apathy, resentment and frustration. Ignoring this sentiment will lead to it boiling over, which is very dangerous.
The high minded intentions of creating peace and stability in Europe are threatened by the zealous ideologues uncompromisingly seeking to build a European state. Dissolving democracy, centralising authority within a vast technocracy and making electorates feel increasingly powerless is bound to create bitterness and lead to a backlash.
We have seen rumbles of it in populist uprisings and it threatens to get worse if the EU doesn’t change. I can well imagine that the #marchforeurope protestors rightfully loathe the extremism rearing its ugly head, but they won’t face up the fact that their beloved EU has to take a large share of the responsibility for it.
For being sceptical about the EU one is likely to be dismissed as stupid and probably racist. Most discussions I have with EU devotees on social media begins with them sending me a link and being told “you might learn something”, before the exchange is prevented from becoming a reasonable discussion because of their refusal to believe a Brexiteer can be anything but a moron.
Europhiles believe that it is a necessity for Europe to be bound together in a union under a supranational government in order to foster cooperation and maintain peace. I believe that we should cooperate as a democratic state on a much more equitable, intergovernmental basis and prioritise creating an inclusive cross-border marketplace to increase prosperity in Europe and beyond.
If the EU had concentrated on building a European market for trade and creating unity via intergovernmental forums rather than dogmatically implementing its political project, we would not be having this debate and Europe would be a far happier and richer place. There would have been no referendum in this country either.
But there was. The government sought a democratic mandate for our EU membership and everything that came with it now and in the future. It did not get it. So if the march is an attempt to overturn the result and stop Brexit happening it is very ill advised indeed. The referendum result must be heeded, to overturn it would toxify politics and cause unprecedented instability. It would bring the debate to a raging boiling point and it would empower demagogues, who would exploit the bitterness caused by such a brazenly anti-democratic move.
The protestors claim the moral high ground while holding signs saying things like this:
‘Democracy or a travesty???’
‘The monkeys have taken over the asylum!’
While shouting with contorted faces at Brexit supporters and claiming they are too stupid to participate in democracy and must be ignored.
This was, at its heart, a pro-establishment protest. This is what gets me. When I was a fresh faced, angry youngster I was a Leftist and considered myself to be a socialist (hadn’t given much thought) but I was inherently mistrustful of the state and sceptical about its power. Isn’t that what being rebellious and speaking truth to power is all about!?
That’s all the EU really is, after all, the state write large, a supranational extension of governmental power. Bafflingly the protestors are probably far more critical of their national government but hear no evil and see no evil in the vast bureaucracy and developing technocracy in Brussels.
Ben is the Conservatives for Liberty Online Director. Follow him on Twitter: @TheScepticIsle
The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Conservatives for Liberty