Tuesday, October 14, 2003
Will Hutton...?

You can add your own sentence here for wish fulfilllment. However, he did write another sermon on why we should support Europe in the starry eyed manner that we have become accustomed to reading. Hutton could never descend to mixing criticism with scepticism, leading to the odd marriage of analysis and panting fervour that the Observer printed last Sunday.

Starry eyed idealism:

The European Union is a success. Its 25 members are discussing proposals for a new, carefully crafted constitution that will make it at once more governable and more democratic - a pipedream even 18 months ago. Its new currency reaches new highs against the dollar. It is about to take over peacekeeping in Bosnia from Nato. It is a fast-developing, positive and progressive force.

Yet it does not live up to its ideals because errant national leaders have this flaw: they stand up for the interests of their nations - presumably the purpose for which they were elected. Hutton almost sounds like a Eurosceptic in his recognition that the EU and the 'rule of law' are distant cousins.

But the crisis has not passed; it has deepened. Europe is weaker. EU processes are revealed as a sham. There is plainly one rule for the big states and another for the small, as EU Commissioner Fritz Bolkenstein said bitterly last week;

A conservative would view this development as a natural consequence of the difference in power between the smaller and the larger countries in Europe. There is not an awful lot that you can do about it. However, Hutton has to fall back upon his idealism in order to counter the forces of nationalism. (He demonstrates his Europhilia by linking, without any historical explanation, the volkisch nationalism of Germany and the institutionalism of the UK - in the figurehead of IDS). His final argument for the EU is that nations must band together because they can, and that when they do so, the results are jolly good.

On Friday evening Danuta Hubner and Noelle Lenoir, the Polish and French Ministers for Europe, joined the German Christian Democrat Elmar Brok - chairman of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs and Human Rights Committee - in making the case for European integration simply because it is better for nations to collaborate than not, and because citizens thus get a better purchase on events and more sovereignty.

No wonder they are losing the debate with this feeble nonsense. And, as a final reminder of how progressives view democracy when it is the wrong result, here is Hutton on the Swedes:

But then, neither do Gerhardt Schröder, Silvio Berlusconi or Jacques Chirac. These are times when national leaders feed their publics a populist diet of the sanctity of national sovereignty and suspicion of the foreign 'other' - and citizens are more suspicious than ever of appeals for Europe - witness the scale of Sweden's 'no' vote to the euro.

And I thought the Swedish leaders were in favour...


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