Yesterday Radio 4 transmitted a programme they called The EU Debate
Sir Stephen Wall, the former diplomat and EU adviser to Tony Blair, argued his position against a panel who
want Britain out, including UKIP's own Roger Helmer,
Dr Helen Szamuely - Head of research for the Bruges Group and Conservative MP
The debate was held at The London School of Economics and Politics (LSE).
The audience was resoundingly pro-European Union.
Some would say this is no surprise. LSE boasts "a distinguished history" in EU Law. They readily point out that "The first major English
language textbook on European Union law was published by an LSE academic...Members of the Department have gone on to be members of the Court
and similarly the Court is represented in the Department.."
It is perhaps the foremost University in the UK for any graduand seeking a Commission or ECJ based career, so one would imagine the audience of the debate was largely made up of people either aspiring to work for the EU or a student body of a broadly similar mindset.
It is rather sorry that the BBC chose to stage the argument with a roll-call on voting intention at the start of the debate (the Yays have it) and then the same question posed at the end of the debate to demonstrate that the vast majority still applauded the EU. It certainly whiffed a bit of a set up, pitching not one, or two, but three Eurosceptics against one avid supporter to then fimd that their arguments had gained no purchase with the audience at all.
It would be like having three Michelin starred chefs attempting to extol the virtues of Chateaubriand with a side of Fois-Gras to an audience of Vegans.
The final product was this semblance that one rather unpopular Europhile (just former association with T Blair often casts people into the instant role of pantomime villain) could be pitted against three articulate Eurosceptics, and guess what, the EU still comes out on top. Well there you have it. A foregone conclusion. The EU is the shiniest and best thing to e'er happen to Western Civilisation.
But listening to the arguments put forward by Mr Wall, there was also implication, the same one often used by the left-leaning press, that leaving the EU is the same as getting into a time machine and returning to a war-stricken divided Europe of workhouses, soot and poverty.
Oh and Britain will become as insignificant on the world stage as Micronesia.
It just doesn't make sense. Nobody is denying that the EU at some stage may have done some good stuff.
But the ever centrifugal pull of power into the midst of a democratic vacuum exhibited by Brussels as it clambers shambolically through the self-inflicted wastelands of economic misery is eerily reminiscent of the very Communism Mr Wall exhorted the pan-European bloc gallantly overcame.
I shuddered at his use of the words "For safety's sake" as if without the very Union that is pitting nation against nation in an epidemia of economic contagion, puttting people on streets and causing petrol bombs and smashed shop windows to become a regular sight once again in the Mediterranean, Europe would be thrown back into myre of multi-national conflict. What an utterly grotesque assertion, and how undermining to NATO, the UN and 21st century common sense.
And how undermining to the UK that without Europe we would no longer have any sort of influence where it counted.
It is as if there is a clear dichotomy. Either be in the EU or hate neighbouring European countries and become an isolated and impoverished little territory.
Why nobody seems to posit that cooperation, trade and solidarity may actually be enhanced by leaving the European Union, which as far as most can see is merely the architect of economic and political failure, is a mystery to me. All you have to do is open a newspaper to see the turmoils affecting Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and so forth.
Of course Switzerland, who remains resolutely outside of the EU but fully cooperational in terms of free trade, is planning to use the Large Hadron Collider now Higgs-Boson has been found to forge a network of guerilla tunnels under continental Europe and take us all by force, all the while smirking as she benefits from selling Philip Patek's in return for civilisation-destroying arms. If that sounds ridiculous to you, then surely this proposition that the EU membership is essential for European peacekeeping also rings of utter codswallop.
Notice how the debate rarely even touched upon the catastrophic failure of the Euro, the self-defeating agricultural policy dessimating UK farming and neutering our ability to be self sufficient, let alone the Common Fisheries Policy which not only practically eradicates all ocean life from the waters of Europe, but destroys the coastlines and fishing communities of numerous third world countries.
I must admit I listened with pride at the arguments put forward by Helmer et al.
Yet a clever bit of editing and a sprinkle of production values and the BBC came across as the mouthpiece of Europe.