Friday, October 01, 2004

The Edge of England's Sword: The Old Order Changeth...

Perhaps it does not change, perhaps it has merely reached a stalemate. Thatcher enjoied almost twelve years of relative electoral security due to the third party effect. The liberals could not replace old labour but they could keep them out of office. Now the pendulum has swung to the other side the third party effect has rewarded Blair. There are very few commentators who think that the next election will be any more of a contest than the last two.

It might just be time to start thinking about whether it would be better to go the PR route. That will be Kennedy's price if he ever does get to hold the balance of power.

The Conservatives also need to stop talking about what obsesses them and start talking about what interests the people. Most people do not like the EU. But they see the EU as a big beureacratic mess that the UK has to deal with whether its in or out. It does not help the Tories much when their rhetoric does appear to differentiate between the EU and Bin Laden. The arrival of the UKIP makes things even worse. They are to the Tory party what CND was to Labour in the 80s. If the Tories reject them they lose a chunk of their base, if they embrace them they come off as crackpots.

There is clearly no imminent threat of the UK joining the single currency or of the UK agreeing to the EU constitution. The best guarantee of UK independence is for the EU to expand to include Turkey. There is no way that France can pretend that the EU is the reborn Napoleonic Empire once that happens.

The logic for including Turkey is very strong. First there is the Greek/Turkey issue which is in many ways older and deeper than the France/Germany issue. The Greeks realize that getting Turkey into the EU is the way to set asside that rivalry and also to prevent Turkey from sliding back into a military dictatorship. There is also the security issue. Turkey is at the epicenter of all the major international security issues that any EU combined army would have to address. To the West there is the former Yugoslavia, to the North and East the Global Balkans of the former USSR, to the South Israel, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan. The other logic for including Turkey in the EU is that it then incorporates all the former great Imperial powers, Britain, Rome, Ottoman and the European colonial powers.

The reason the French will fight including Turkey is that it means accepting an end to the idea of cultural integration. Play the same damn game on the French people that their politicians have been playing on us, tell them that the expansion of the EU to include Turkey is inevitable and there is no way they will ever vote for the constitution.

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