Nick Cohen has used his Observer column to suggest that support for the euro, and for European federalism generally, was and is a sort of blip on the part of otherwise sensible, mainstream, moderate politicians, whereas opposition was and is the mark of extremists. In Britain, this trick goes back at least to the 1975 referendum, when the media concentrated very heavily on Tony Benn and Enoch Powell. To the exclusion of those Tories (still embodied by the present Father of the House, Sir Peter Tapsell) whose resistance was rooted in their Keynesianism, their strong support for the Commonwealth, and their Disraelian and Namierite foreign policy realism. And to the exclusion of Labour figures of very similar mind, such as Douglas Jay and Peter Shore.
Not only are we subject to a legislative body, the Council of Ministers, which meets in secret and publishes no Official Report. But we are also subject to the legislative will of the sorts of people that turn up in the coalitions represented in that Council. And, indeed, in the European Parliament. Stalinists and Trotskyists. Neo-Fascists and neo-Nazis. Members of Eastern Europe’s kleptomaniac nomenklatura. Neoconservatives such as now run France and Germany. Dutch ultra-Calvinists who will not have women candidates. Before long, the ruling Islamists of Turkey. And their opponents, variously extreme secular ultra-nationalists and Marxist Kurdish separatists.
When Jörg Haider’s party was in government in Austria, the totally unreconstructed Communist Party was in government in France. In the Council of Ministers, we were being legislated for by both of them. In the European Parliament, we still are, because we always are. People who believe the Provisional Army Council to be the sovereign body throughout Ireland may not take their seats at Westminster. But they do at Strasbourg. And so on, and on, and on.
What is sensible, mainstream or moderate about any of this? Or about anyone who advocates or defends it?