Wednesday 1 June 2016

European matters

Enjoying Macaron in Rouen
 in the marketplace where
 Joan d'Arc burned
Today we visited Rouen - a city whose heroine, Joan of Arc, was decisive in setting Euro-sceptic British sentiment for centuries after French victory in the Hundred Years war.  The referendum could be another historical moment marking isolationist Britian's waining political influence in the World, brought on our own heads

It may be that David Cameron called a referendom on Europe to try and save his own party - a 'policy of no policy' avoided a party split during the last election.  It may also reflect a more general lack of political leadership suggested by Richard Dawkins, but how informed are we?  How much do we understand our own political system, and how well do we keep in touch with decisions made in Europe?

With the approach of more European Election fervor, what will the turnout be, and how much will people understand about the decision they're making?

Looking beyond the election what will be more interesting is if the marathon election campaign will inspire more to take an interest in European politics, and maybe even vote more too.

The last election saw a voter turn out of some 37% - unchanged since 1979, and less than half the voters in countries like France and Belgium and the EU average voter turn out.  In some ways it does compare favourably with UK parliamentary voters, which over the same period saw a 10% decease in voters from 76 to 66%, but if the election results from 2014 are anything to go by, we should be very worried about our future in the European Union. UKIP is the largest UK party in Europe, and its members the least likely to vote for anything.  UKIP are part of a large group blocking decisions.  Meanwhile David Cameron took the Conservative party out of the largest, most influencial group, to form the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) - a small Eurosceptic, anti-federalist group.  Whatever way the vote goes, Nigel Farage and David Cameron have isolated the UK from most decisions made in Europe already for the next three years.

Looking to our future voters, the National Curriculum does have as a 'foundation subject', citizenship, which includes the EU for both Key Stages 3 and 4.  In theory at least, young people should have some grounding in how it works, which I suspect is more than many British adults.

Unfortunately it's all too rare the European Union makes it to the front page of British papers, and when it does, unsurprisingly it's a eurosceptic story of 'Bureaucracy gone crazy'.  While there is some truth in these stories, they are not representative of all the work of the Union, and must be influencial in shaping opinion in the UK.

There's been no shortage of high profile 'media inches' about european union over the past months.  It wll be interesting to see if we maintain that interest in Europe and European matters without a devisive Election campaign.  We need to raise the profile of the work our MEPs do, whether Euro-sceptic or not.  Whether or not we Bremain or Brexit, we can't ignore Europe or our role in it, What we need most is transparency and understanding of all the workings in Europe - to be more European.

No comments:

Post a Comment