Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Blogging on the Constitution - 28th May 2003, 23.02

Iain Murray has provided some sound arguments on the disadvantages of holding a referendum on the European Constitution. Iain states that a parliamentary route is constitutionally more sound and that a referendum could prove disastrous, due to the vulnerability of this vehicle to any cause (post entitled "HM the Q in EU").

On Samizdata, I commented on David Carr's posting and the lively debate that it fired up (135 comments and counting). My comment revolved around the question of how the United States may aid the Eurosceptic movement in its endeavours. Financial aid would be counterproductive. Therefore, the most favourable strategy would be to draw upon the strengths of the conservative and libertarian movements in the United States: their strong intellectual and institutional infrastructure, with the aim of providing a favourable 'climate of opinion' towards Euroscepticism and UK withdrawal within the Beltway (especially at the State Department) and exploring possible alternatives, both economic and strategic for the North Atlantic community. James Bennett, of Anglosphere fame, also commented:

The problem is that this time, unlike 1940, Britian does not have Churchill in No. 10; in regards to the European question, the current occupant is more like Oswald Moseley. If Britain had a visible figure somewhere in its leadership who was clearly articulating why this constitution was bad for Britain and bad for America, Americans would respond in kind. Unfortunately, the Brit most visible to Americans is working hard to sell the idea, including to Bush. This limits our ability to mobilize.

Much progress has been made over the past three years on educating America. Before that, many American conservatives and libertarians thought the EU was actually a good thing, a pro-free-trade organization. Today, National Review Online, for example, has become pretty euroskeptic.

The big secret about American politics is that there really is no "America" except once in a long while. When someone kills three thousand of us one morning, for example. Most of the time policy is influenced by a small group of people who feel strongly about the issue at hand. Hardly anybody in America likes the European Union or cares strongly about it; US support comes from maybe three hundred sleepwalkers at the State Deaprtment who support it because they always have supported it.

There's plenty that can be done. Mobilize several thousand Americans to make influencing the US government on the EU a major political priority for a year or two, and policy will change. Hell, everyone says they hate the French; here's something more constructive than renaming French fires "freedom fries". We need a new Eagle Squadron -- commemorating the Americans who volunteered to fly against the First European Union back in 1940. But these would stay home and lobby Congress.

If the US made it clear to the UK political establishment that the US would be very unhappy about the UK approving the EU constitution, this would have a strong political effect

I'm off to New York on my hols and will return, refreshed on June 9th, to tackle the Euro debate, when they announce their reasons for not coming to a decision,unless they shock us all, and hold the referendum. Over to you, Emmanuel.


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