Posts Tagged ‘Europe’
Nigel Farage, the Scottish Debate and the Future of Europe
Open Democracy, May 19th 2013
This is an age of uncertainty, crisis and doubt. The UK is experiencing multiple crises: political, constitutional and economic, of the UK in Europe and of Europe itself as an idea and project. And underneath all of this is a deep-seated Western fear, of loss of confidence in Western modernity and anxiety about the future.
The lack of sureness now being displayed in Britain’s political elites is one manifestation, as is the rise of Nigel Farage’s UKIP. The Westminster village has been talking of little else since UKIP burst through in the English local elections winning 23% of the vote, humiliating the mainstream parties.
Cut then this week to the beautiful setting of Edinburgh’s High Street, its castle at one end, Holyrood Palace at the other, tartan tourist tat in between. This was the improbable setting for Nigel Farage’s northern sojourn and face off with Radical Independence supporters.
Insults flew back and forth; the protestors called Farage ‘racist scum’; he retorted by calling them ‘fascist scum’ and then attempted to taint the broad church of Scottish nationalism and the SNP by claiming the former had a ‘fascist side’; the next day in a combative interview on ‘BBC Radio Scotland’ Farage accused the interviewer David Miller of the same ‘hatred’ as the protestors and hung up (1). Read the rest of this entry »
What Kind of European and British Union is Emerging?
The Scotsman, May 18th 2013
Prague Spring. Two words which evoke a certain feeling, the hopes of a generation, European idealism and the past.
Today Europe could not be in a more different place and frame of mind, the brief optimism of 1968 and 1989 long gone.
All across the continent, European political, elite and civic conversations are underway about ‘whither Europe?’ and ‘what future for the eurozone?’
In the last two weeks I have participated in two of these, attending the Prague Press Forum and before that speaking to ministers, officials and advisers of the Irish Government in Dublin.
Europe is worried about itself, its future, the European project and Britain – with in many places Euro-realism falling over into a deep-seated pessimism. German broadcaster, Jurgen Kronig, believes part of the problem is the ambiguous nature of German leadership. Read the rest of this entry »
The Framing of the Scottish Independence Debate: A Tale of Two Referenda
Bella Caledonia, May 15th 2013
Two independence campaigns are now running in the UK: one on Scottish independence; the other which has become more public in the last week, on the UK’s possible exit from the European Union. Strangely they operate in near complete isolation of each other, with the Euro referendum being talked about as if we still lived in the high days of untrammelled Westminster parliamentary sovereignty.
In the last week, the front page of the Scottish edition of The Times reported a fall in support for Scottish independence of 3% as, ‘’Yes’ vote hits trouble as support crumbles’ (May 9th 2013). The same week it began its campaign for the UK to embark on EU withdrawal, lining up a chorus line of Tory grandees to declare their support for exit; successive front pages declared, ‘Lawson: It’s time to quit EU’ (May 7th 2013) and ‘Voters tell Cameron to cut Europe down to size’ (May 8th 2013); and were followed by Michael Portillo coming out of support of withdrawal, ‘We don’t share Europe’s vision. So I want out’ (May 9th 2013). The front page of the Scottish edition on the day of the Lawson announcement also included a headline stating, ‘Independent Scotland may struggle to keep lights on’ (May 7th 2013).
One has the language of ‘separatism’, ‘separation’ and is filled with risk and negativity; the other the language of ‘a new relationship’, ‘renegotiation’ and greater choice and flexibility; the first about Scottish independence, the second British withdrawal from the EU. When I asked Angus Macleod, editor of The Times Scottish edition why he used pejorative language on Scotland in one of the pieces cited above he answered, ‘Independence is in in the intro and elsewhere. Separation is used for variety. It’s called journalism’ (twitter, May 9th 2013). Read the rest of this entry »
The Beginning of the End of ‘the Global Kingdom’
The Scotsman, March 9th 2013
This week something momentous happened for the future of the Britain, its economy and politics, for Europe, and our relationship with the continent.
The European Union proposed and agreed a curb on bankers bonuses, over-riding the predictable opposition of the UK Government and George Osborne.
The EU proposals supported by the European Commission, European Central Bank, and 26 out of 27 EU members, will put a ceiling on banker bonuses of one year’s salary, or two years if approved by a large majority of shareholders.
There was the usual outcries from the British Bankers Association, CBI and others: people who go by the description, ‘the business community’, but are actually corporate lobbyists for the big firms, which is not the same thing, looking to maintain the same market dominance for their members. Read the rest of this entry »
The UKIP Policy Nigel Farage Doesn’t Want to Talk About
Open Democracy, March 8th 2013
UKIP are suddenly everywhere in the aftermath of their second place and 28% in the Eastleigh by-election. Nigel Farage, their irascible leader, is even more omnipotent with even more appearances on BBC ‘Question Time’ to look forward too.
North of the border UKIP have always had a perception, identity and popularity problem. They are widely seen as an English nationalist party, one whose idea of Britain is narrowly centred on a time when the two terms could be used interchangeably. It is a mindset stuck in a timewarp situated between the 1950s and 1970s, between the beginning and end of the Empire, and which yearns for an England which began to completely disappear in the decade of ‘The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin’ and ‘The Good Life’.
Nevertheless Scottish politics is not immune to people harking back to better yesterdays, and certainly there is a similar popular sentiment and aura of anti-politics, which dismisses all mainstream politics and politicians, in Scotland as elsewhere in the UK. Read the rest of this entry »