Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Is Britain compatible with Europe?

The Irish electorate's decision to reject the Lisbon Treaty could possibly be one of the defining moments in the development of the European Union - if the EU were to play by its own rules, the treaty is dead in the water. I fear though that the Irish will be asked to vote again and again until they come to the "right" choice.

It is becoming increasingly clear that across Europe there is a backlash against the "ever-closer union" so beloved of the Eurocrats. The people of Europe are stuck between a rock and a hard place, the EU allows us to freely move and live throughout the Union, though the number of people who do so is inevitably minute. Yet the EU wants more power - the power of a nation-state to rule over the daily lives of the people living in the state.

And here is the problem, especially for Britain. The British people are a head strong, stubborn bunch - look at the nations where British people have settled and they are certainly not known for backing down in the face of threats to their national integrity. Yet here are our leaders, elected by the people, walking the nation into the European super-state which no-one in Britain wants.

Putting the needs of Britain before the needs of the EU is often shown to be somehow racist, yet the needs of Britain are pressing ever harder; the need for investment in education; the need to protect British industries; the need for British people to live without constant interference from the State.

I have come to the belief that Britain has more to re-gain from leaving the European Union than it has to lose. Britain has no need of the EU, we have the Commonwealth and our special relationship with the USA. British and Irish people are simply not Europeans, we are simply too stubborn and proud to let the bureaucrats rule. Thank you Ireland for making your voice heard, the challenge is laid squarely at the feet of the Eurocrats - listen to the people.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Time for change

One morning last July, when sitting in the living room of my future in-laws I watched one of the few political speeches which engaged me without making the cynical dark side rear its ugly head. The person making the speech was Barack Obama. He spoke about returning hope to the American people, about re-discovering the ideals of the American Dream - which are essentially the ideals of almost every tribe and tongue on Earth, about re-engaging America with the world. He made a lot of sense. I even dragged my fiancee onto the couch to watch it with me - my fiancee having never shown any interest in politics at all.

Watching that speech made me realise that this man is the best hope for America at this key turning point in history. The very things that his opponents pick up as weaknesses are in fact strengths, and harnessed properly give him the opportunity to radically re-shape America, to create a "more perfect union". Barack Obama is the walking talking melting pot. Half Kenyan and half White American he is in many ways a post-race politician, and while his detractors raise the race issue, they simply show themselves to be racist.

Here is a man so skilled in soaring rhetoric that he has engaged the hearts and minds of countless young people across the US and brought them into a system which many saw as failing and irrelevant. That in itself is a change worth celebrating - when citizens lose contact with the political system that governs society, they slowly lose their voices - society is like a choir, if you don't sing then why are you there?

As you can probably guess I am something of a fan of the senator from Illinois. As a Brit, I can't vote, but as a Brit moving to the US next year, I dearly hope that the president will be Barack Obama, I dearly hope that America can look beyond the shade of a man's skin and re-discover the values that made their nation great. The world looks to America for leadership, America it seems after 8 years of George Bush is looking for a true leader.