We Need to Talk about Europe
Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 25th October, 2011
The parliamentary debate on a call for an EU referendum last night was not the most edifying of spectacles. What struck me most was the disturbing ignorance amongst many MPs — notably the Tories supporting the referendum motion — about what the EU actually is and what it does. In that, of course, they are sadly typical of their electorates, as Euro-ignorance is endemic in this country. Things are not helped by the rabidly Euro-sceptic Press (with some noble exceptions such as the Guardian, Independent and Financial Times) which peddles anti-European prejudice and often outright lies. If the EU were an individual, rather than an institution, newspapers such as the Daily Mail, Daily Express and Sunday Telegraph would repeatedly find themselves in the Courts facing libel charges. There is a desperate need for objective public education about the European Union. Some might argue that such an educational programme could be part of any EU Referendum campaign, and I respect the opinion of those MPs who voted for a Referendum not because they loathe the EU but because they feel the issue needs to be publicly debated. In the meantime, I understand the frustration felt by French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the UK Conservative Party’s carping from the sidelines about policies in the eurozone. Now, I wonder just how many Brits could say clearly what the eurozone is, let alone be able to list its member countries?!