Britain, Europe and the General Election
Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 14th April, 2010
Europe is an issue that just hasn’t figured in the UK election so far — other than among the headbangers of UKIP, of course. I can understand why none of the three main party leaders wishes to push the subject to the fore, not least David Cameron. But it was interesting to take time-out from active campaigning this afternoon to attend a Federal Trust seminar, conveniently held at London Metropolitan University (LMU), on Britain, Europe and the General Election. Rather than have political candidates to represent the three main parties, the organisers brought in academics/experts: Maurice Fraser (of LSE) for the Tories, Stephen Haseler (of LMU) for Labour and Richard Laming (of the Federal Union) for the LibDems. Maurice Fraser is a pro-European Tory, but he is not the first pundit I have heard say that David Cameron is trying discreetly to build a more pro-European narrative. Moreover, if Cameron does become Prime Minister, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Cabinet Office will make sure he espouses a more positive line. Stephen Haseler, interestingly, argued that a Labour-LibDem government would be the best outcome of the election and urged the LibDems to grasp the opportunity that an arrangement with Labour should provide for getting fixed-term parliaments and electoral reform (not just AV, but AV Plus, the recommendation of the Jenkins Commission). Richard Laming threw some cold water on the idea of coalitions. But all the speakers were united in the belief tht Britain needs to take a more forceful and engaged role in Europe, whatever the electoral arithmetic.