That’s nice William. The BBC article doesn’t detail which policies Mr Hague would see worthy of a red card. But I can imagine… Rules on freedom of movement, on regulating industries, on environmental protection.
And I see why, from an ideological viewpoint that the Conservatives would be interested in curtailing the powers of the EU. They see it as a threat to their national power and sovereignty. I see it as a way to bring all of Europe together on an equal playing field, where every European citizen can have a stake in decisions which do have wider implications than within national boundaries.
But what really frustrates me, is it that it’s gone beyond an ideological objection to become some kind of principled position which disregards any positive implications of working in Europe, and forgets the negative implications of ignoring what after all is a position that has been agreed to across the EU so must have something going for it.
To take my examples above:
Freedom of movement – we’re told Britain will be invaded by ‘benefits tourists’ from Eastern Europe. We forget that we can travel and work freely within the EU, benefiting our economy and our cultural development. And we don’t ask why we’re so attractive to Eastern Europeans, and whether more could be done within the EU to share the wealth and thus avoid the catch 22 of countries such as the UK being attractive, despite our financial woes, because we are still better off than Hungary, Romania, Greece…
Regulating industries – I could go into detail about energy industries and how ignoring or subverting EU rules that are designed to protect the industry whilst also looking to move to a low carbon future is digging our own grave, but, there is an example that has received far more headlines. The regulation of food production. The EU brought in laws to better regulate the production of ready meals, burgers etc etc. The UK took an opt out. And then it turned out a whole bunch of pre-prepared food has stuff in it that we weren’t aware of. What could have prevented this, the headlines screamed. Um, adopting the EU regulations?
Environmental protection – The EU is far from perfect in its environmental legislation, don’t get me wrong. But a lot of what it is trying to do at an EU wide level is essential. Fighting climate change. Reducing energy use. Protecting marine wildlife. Criminalising harmful pesticides. To opt out is to undermine the necessity of pan-European action AND destabilises the project.
So I have a plan. If William Hague thinks he should get to show EU policies he doesn’t like a red card, I think we, the people, should get to show William’s cabinet colleagues a red card when they suggest policies we don’t like. I’m thinking we’d get a lot more positive use out of our red cards than Hague would. And I’m pretty certain our use of red cards would have a positive influence, and would protect our socio-economic goods and natural resources, for the good of both current and future generations, in the UK, the EU, and globally.