One of the things that the pro-European campaign is going to have to establish is the reason for the democratic unification of Europe, and by extension for the European constitution. I was discussing this with Marc Glendening, of the so-called Democracy Movement, after a debate we had.
People on his side of the argument are convinced that they have a monopoly not only of the moral argument (every political campaign believes it has that) but also of the political argument itself. They believe in what they are doing, goes the argument, we are only in it for what we can get out of it. A key task for us is to get our political bona fides accepted by our opponents.
I put it to Glenda like this. The campaign to overcome national sovereignty is the modern-day equivalent of the campaign against slavery or the campaign for the vote for women. The whole point is to extend democratic rights; in this instance, over decisions that have traditionally been taken by heads of state. Britain, which has one of the most old-fashioned systems of government in democratic Europe, allows the prime minister to sign treaties on behalf of the queen without the approval of parliament. These treaties can subsequently become binding on the government without the explicit sanction of the people.
The European Union has taken this notion and made it visible. All kinds of decisions are taken by the EU that are not matters of international diplomacy at all but are really normal issues of day-to-day politics – the loudness of lawnmowers, for example. The pro-European case is that these decisions, these normal day-to-day political decisions, should be taken by the normal rules of democracy. This is a political case.
And where does this leave my blog? I write a few words about inheriting the tradition of William Wilberforce or Sylvia Pankhurst. Am I entitled to attribute such huge importance to the daily trivia of a political campaign? It does somehow run the risk of coming over all Adrian Mole. Let’s see.
This blog entry first appeared on www.yes-campaign.net. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Federal Union or of the Yes campaign.