Almost everything we’ve been told about the ‘historic’ Euro-crisis summit is wrong. Here are five Euro-myths for starters.
Euro-myth No 1: ‘It was a triumph for Cameron – or Sarkozy’
Euro-myth No 2: ‘It was a national disaster for Britain, now isolated from Europe’
Euro-myth No 3: ‘Europe is now united behind a plan to tackle its crisis’
Euro-myth No 4: ‘Germany - it’s 1939 all over again!’
It's no 5 that is most telling and those of you who think Cameron's "veto" is some sort of triumph should never forget. Our spineless leaders are Europhiles and the only way we'll ever leave the EU is if we force the issue.
Euro-myth No 5: ‘The UK coalition is on the brink of collapse over Europe’
"That seems unlikely – and even if it were to happen, the current alternatives on offer would be little better in terms of democracy. Since Cameron’s return from the summit, the Tory prime minister and his Lib Dem deputy Nick Clegg have each been playing to their core support in parliament by staging mock set-piece battles over their slightly different attitudes to the EU. Meanwhile, the Labour opposition has called on the Lib Dems to leave the ‘Eurosceptic’ Conservatives and form a ‘real’ pro-Europe coalition with them.
This elite manoeuvring represents little more than an extension of the anti-democratic politics of Brussels into domestic affairs. (Indeed, it is always worth reminding ourselves that it was the decay of their idea of democracy within the nation state that led the European elites to seek refuge in the EU institutions in the first place.) None of the UK party leaderships is willing to offer the British people any say on our future in Europe, all of them remain adamantly opposed to any referendum, and none of them wants an election. However upset they may be with Cameron’s non-diplomacy, the Lib Dems want to hang onto their seats in government for the full five-year term; like all non-political politicians today, they hold no principle higher than their hold on power.
Far more than any isolation in Europe, it is their isolation from the people they are supposed to represent that has the political elites clinging together behind the Westminster drawbridge. In the unlikely event that the current coalition did fall, what difference would it make? Democracy has to involve more than just a vote – like being offered a choice between political alternatives for the future of the UK and Europe. What we need is not just the collapse or reconstitution of a coalition in parliament, but the emergence of political conflicts that mean something in society.
All in all, as the diplomatic dust settles from the Brussels summit, it becomes clear that there is more continuity than change so far. Europe still appears to be heading for an economic depression, while European democracy is heading for political bankruptcy. And Britain is not ‘isolated’ from either of those crises. There are no easy solutions on offer. But it might be a start if we could kick out the Euro-myths"