Thursday, October 04, 2007

Timothy Garton Ash, the Tories and the EU...

In this mornings Guardian Timothy Garton Ash suggests David Cameron's call for the UK to better exert it's influence around the world is at odds with the Party's natural euro-scepticism. He misunderstands how that influence works as well as the party's actual position on the EU.

Tim claims "there will often be no other way to achieve the goals [the Tories] proclaim" other than via the EU but that begs a very obvious question - why couldn't a Conservative government play a full part in any EU pressure on Zimbabwe, China, Iran or whomever? Tim doesn't actually offer any explanation here - he just keep saying it which isn't the same thing as a decent argument. The Conservatives recognise and have acknowledged many times that where pan-European action is appropriate they'll support it.

The point is the Tories aren't advocating complete withdrawal but challenging some aspects of the current settlement (e.g. HRA, social chapter) and then adding checks and balances on further integration. He acknowledges that the EU often punches below it's weight internationally (and the UK punches above its) but this almost amounts to a rebuttal of the very point he's trying to make - surely deeper integration of effective body into the less effective one isn't the only way to advance those shared goals? This 'with us or against us' logic is as flawed in the mouth of a liberal pro-European as it is in the mouth of a US neocon. The notion that EU's international standing and moral weight is dependent on unanimity over weighing a bag of spuds or even harmonised labour laws is laughable and for someone who's just launched an EU-focused think tank Tim should know better.


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