Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Ross McKibbin loses contact with reality

Ross McKibbin writes this (in the LRB):

"It is surprising how unwilling even the partisans of the EU are to argue the case for membership.  Most voters don’t realise that we can safely drink our water, eat our food, swim in the sea, have a reasonable expectation that a building won’t fall on us, thanks to EU legislation. Damning such legislation as the work of the nanny state is simply a way for Conservative (and Ukip) politicians to escape their obligations, something the British political class has frequently done."

Does he seriously believe this? Does he think that before the UK joined the EEC, we were unable to drink our water and eat our food, and that we all lived in fear of collapsing buildings? Does he believe that that is how, say, Canadians or Japanese live today?

If that is the best the "partisans of the EU" can do, it is no wonder they are unwilling to make the argument. The problem is that British partisans of the EU on the left don't have many arguments. The whole free-trade side of things is problematic (McKibbin points out that it has not done great things for the old, tariff-protected industries that traditionally supported trades unions and the mainstream left), while the other bits (the euro, greater political union) just aren't that popular, or even very left-wing. These people support the EU for emotional reasons, because it is modern and progressive (or at least, used to be) and because the people who oppose it might be xenophobes. It's a mood and a set of prejudices - not an argument.

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