“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Ramifications Of The Lisbon Treaty.

with 6 comments

Listening to the news that the Tories will apparently hold a referendum on the Lisbon treaty, if they win the next general election in Britain, set me thinking how Europe haunts the Tories, as much today as it did when John Major or Margaret Thatcher had power, but the political ramifications are potentially wider.

It seems unlikely that the Tories would reopen the Lisbon treaty when the other nations and states have in one way or the other ratified it, the last one will soon be the Czech Republic, but if they did that in Britain then it would surely open up old wounds, yet again the perennial bogeyman of Europe would be attacked and more British xenophobia stirred up.

The relationship between Britain and Europe is a fraught discourse, primarily because it brings up, indirectly, the decline of Britain has an Imperial power and the necessity for her to have good relations with European countries, who previously were considered to be nobodies or minor competitors. Accepting Europe has never been an easy thing for the British, despite holiday homes in France and the millions that visit Spain or traipse around Italy, Europe is not a welcomed subject across the political spectrum, and that is where any debate on the Lisbon Treaty becomes politically interesting.

Should a referendum be held then you would have the sight of little Englanders, ancient Tories, neofascists, Tony Benn and various unreconstructed lefties united in arguing against the Lisbon treaty, in part as a way to criticise and distance themselves from Europe, both as a political setup and as a continent.

Whatever happens it will be messy politics, as clearly Britain is unlikely to leave the EU.

However, a negative outcome for the Lisbon treaty as an expression of discontent against Europe, or for British nationalism, would leave the political leaders in a perilous position, either having to ignore public opinion, which probably would be highly critical of the EU, or cause political splits in the mainstream parties.

So whatever happens Europe will continue to dog the Tories.

Occasional racist and bigot speaks out at Tory party conference.

Written by modernityblog

11/10/2009 at 14:26

6 Responses

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  1. I’ve always been critical of Europe as a continent. More of a minor appendage to Asia, is what I say.


    11/10/2009 at 15:00

  2. One of the biggest probelms for all conservative parties is the desire on one hand for the free market yet still cling to nationalism.

    Andrew Murphy

    11/10/2009 at 18:43

  3. Andrew

    Absolutely, but with Britain and the EU there is a wider dimension that lingering contempt for all things “foreign”, a desire to be a big player in the world, but the realisation that there is no longer a British empire, which causes no end of frustration amongst the British.

    A big part of common history are the myths about defeating the French, beating the Germans and generally keeping “foreigners” at bay, etc.

    So it takes a lot to then switch to be integrated to Europe. Many old myths have to be dispelled and a new attitude taken up, that’s not easy for the British to do.


    11/10/2009 at 19:21

  4. But why harder than for the French or the Germans, who after fought three destructive wars with each other but manage to remain in the EU together today. Or the Poles, glad to join the EU with the country to the west that invaded them twice. It seems to me that all or most European countries have their own forms of nationalism where people don’t want to join with the other nations.


    11/10/2009 at 21:50

  5. Why harder?

    Because the Brits don’t often view themselves as the same as others, rather as an Island people, set apart.

    Also, it is the decline of the Empire, but the residual memory that exists amongst the Brits, that’s hard to reconcile, ever listen to the last night of the Proms?

    “Rule Britannia!
    Britannia rule the waves.
    Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.
    Rule Britannia!
    Britannia rule the waves.
    Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.”

    Plus, of course, widespread anti-French sentiment, with a dose of “Dad’s Army” type attitude towards Germans, Italians and Spaniards, etc

    I suppose it all adds up 🙂


    11/10/2009 at 22:44

  6. I like the Dave Barry version better:

    Rule Britannia!
    Brtiannia dum de-dum!
    Dum-dum DUM de dum dum, dum DUM!!!!!


    11/10/2009 at 23:34

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