Comment: No more euro flim-flam please, we're British

Marc Glendening: "We must stop being little Europeans, as much as we should avoid being little Englanders."
Marc Glendening: "We must stop being little Europeans, as much as we should avoid being little Englanders."

By Marc Glendening

Sometimes in politics there is a time for cutting through the mushy triangulated BS of modern mainstream politics. Europe is the question that now brooks no unambiguous answer. Yet the political elite, supported by the many fellow travellers who follow in its slipstream, want, for their different reasons, to keep a dense fog hanging over this issue.

I don't think Malcolm X was specifically speaking about the EU when he said, "there will be no controlled show... no flim-flam... if you're afraid to tell the truth you don't deserve freedom," as captured in No Sell Out, Keith Leblanc’s 1983 hip hop tribute.

However, those of us who want a real debate about the EU, regardless of our different preferred outcomes, should now seek to apply Mr X's commendable clarity of approach to this issue. This is why my organisation, the all-party Democracy Movement, is launching a new campaign, Fast Forward: beyond the outdated EU. We want to take head-on the commission/big business, financed pro-EU lobby and force them into an honest war of ideas on what exactly would be the implications of Britain leaving and staying in.


We know that the in-out referendum David Cameron has apparently promised us will truly be a no flim-flam moment. There will be no post-modern, third way option on the ballot paper. Political rationality, courtesy of the European enlightenment, will reassert itself. To quote Malcolm X again: "You're either this or that."

The current debate within the political mainstream is horribly bogus. The Tory eurosceptics, with a few honourable exceptions, are playing along with the fantasy the prime minister has been trying to sell to us.

Namely, that should the Conservatives win in 2015, it will be possible to negotiate a new treaty with Brussels and that within two years this will result in a torrent of powers being returned to Westminster.

The grandees of the pro-EU elite, as exemplified by Peter Mandelson, Ken Clarke and that other great political Malcolm - I speak of course of Rifkind - are selling us another fairy story. This is that there will be no fundamental further implications for Britain if we remain inside the EU. This is the soft line the Centre for British Influence in Europe is peddling.

Compare and contrast the degree of political clarity expressed by the two Malcolms: the benighted Scottish version, declared his admiration for Cameron's Europe speech not only because he committed himself to continued EU membership, but also because the PM did "not reveal any significant details as to how radical, or otherwise, his negotiating objectives will be", according to Rifkind's January piece.

Presumably Malcolm R doesn't want us to even know before we vote in 2015, what exactly the Tories will be trying to get back from Brussels should they win? And people wonder why there is a political disconnect between the elite and the people.

The stark reality is that if we vote in the referendum to stay in, we will be signifying our acceptance of EU rule once and for all. Brussels already makes approximately half our laws, according to research paper 10/62 from November 2010 available in the House of Commons Library.

Next year negotiations will commence on a new treaty designed to save the euro by transferring a raft of new economic powers to the centre. The eurozone members will then vote as a single, majority bloc within the council of ministers, a body in which Britain has only 8.4 per cent of the votes.

The idea that this will have no repercussions for the non-euro countries is bizarre, as John Stevens, the principled pro-EU campaigner and chair of the new UK European People's party, has argued.

How long will Brussels, Stevens asked at a recent People's Pledge debate, allow us to competitively devalue against the Eurozone economies?

At some point, if we are to remain inside, Britain will be made to put up or shut up about joining the euro. The euro, not the single market, will become the defining feature of the new EU, stated Stevens, and this is what all members will be required to join.

The Democracy Movement in its new campaign will seek to challenge the British people to confront not only the political reality of remaining within the EU, but to project ahead and contemplate what being shackled to Brussels will mean for us economically.

Our assertion is that there is a decisive, unstoppable shift in power taking place away from Europe and to the Commonwealth and other fast growing parts of the world. Britain because of its language, history and geographical position, together with the communications revolution, needs to look forward to a post-EU future.

The single market is of declining significance to us, accounting for only nine per cent of our GDP, a figure that will fall as we export a growing percentage of goods and services to the non-EU world. Our message is we must stop being little Europeans, as much as we should avoid being little Englanders. 

It is said that education minister Michael Gove has a poster of Malcolm X in his office bearing the legend: "By any means necessary." This should not come as any surprise to us. Here is the one government minister to have said that in a future referendum he would vote to leave the EU. He understands that the time for euro flim-flam is well and truly over. Let the real debate begin. 

Marc Glendening is political director of the Democracy Movement. Follow the Democracy Movement on twitter @democracymovemt

The opinions in politics.co.uk's Comment and Analysis section are those of the author and are no reflection of the views of the website or its owners.

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