In case you missed it, yesterday was the 40th Birthday Party of what we used to know as the European Economic Community (EEC) but is now simply known as the Evil Empire. No doubt in the slums of Athens and Madrid as youth unemployment hits 60% they were having a party to celebrate. Back here in the UK our political and media elite were strangely quiet on the matter because they are – for the most part – supporters of the EU in one form or another but aware that the plebs feel rather differently.
In years gone by, we Europsceptics were a minority. Our predictions that the Euro would be a disaster on economic grounds and that the Evil Empire would seize powers from Britain were dismissed by the bien pensants as the rantings of a crazed Xenophobic, little Englander, sort of racist minority. Yet sadly for Lords Howe, Hurd, Pantsdown, Mandelson, etc and for Tony Blair himself we sceptics have been proved 100% accurate in our predictions. And consequently popular opinion among those who pay for this folly (the pleb, taxpaying class) has moved strongly our way. As such the “guilty men” can no longer equate euroscepticsm with racism etc as they know they are insulting well over half the electorate.
The debate among the political/media classes in the UK ( and elsewhere in the EU where similar elites apply) has, to date, been about the shape of the structures within the Evil Empire, the speed of change, about how much we each nation should contribute to the financial black hole at the heart of the Brussels Death Star. Away from the Beltway classes there are no such debates. For them it is a straight choice. In or Out with most folks now feeling that it is time to get out.
Yet while we are offered referendums by the political classes on matters which we do not care about (although they might) such as voting systems, elected Mayors, Scottish Independence and police commissioners there is no chance to vote on the one issue which might actually attract public interest. And so the boil festers and grows.
Yet this is just one boil. The elite will continue to pretend that the EU does not make daft laws which it imposes on Britain, that maintaining the EU budget in real terms is good news ( that was Call Me Dave’s idea of talking tough) or that the Evil Empire is in some way democratically accountable. Just as the elite will vote to increase MP’s pay and to allow expenses fiddles wile imposing austerity on others, or to spend more of other people’s money on foreign aid. The elite will carry on living in its world. And we in ours. But the divide grows bigger by the day.
It is that, now tangible, and rapidly growing sense of alienation, as much as the European Issue itself, that the anti-politician that is Nigel Farage and UKIP are tapping into.
Thank heavens it is Farage and UKIP that will benefit. In Greece it is the Nazis of Golden Dawn. The elite across Europe increasingly resemble Marie Antoinette in how they ignore their concerns of the rest of society. One can but hope…