Richard North, 18/01/2014  
 

000a Guardian-018 Clarke.jpg

One wonders whether these people have any self-awareness at all, or how they might think people will react to the conjunction of Ken Clarke, Danny Alexander and Lord Mandelson.

They have come together, we are told, as the "cross-party" British Influence group launched its manifesto, "Better off in a Better Europe", a tawdry little document that purports to set out the case for staying in the EU.

I suppose we should be grateful that Peter Wilding and his "co-presidents", Messrs Clarke, Alexander and Mandelson, have gone to such trouble as to acquaint us with the paucity of their case.

Interestingly, just like the warmists, whenever they address their obsession, they resort to denigrating their opposition. Thus, they present their case and then contrast it what the "isolationists" believe.

It doesn't seem to matter what we actually think on these issues – the Europhiles have their own ideas and can carry on their "conversation" without us. They don't need us at all.

Clarke, however, is warning us that leaving the EU would be an "historical error", insisting that we should "reform the organisation from within" rather than walking away.

So there we go again. If you are the "eurosceptic" Open Europe you push the case for "reform" and if you are the Europhile British Influence, you push the case for "reform". Spot the difference – are we talking about Open Influence or British Europe?

At least Clarke and Co concedes that treaty change is "inevitable" and argue that control should be returned to member states in some areas. But as long as we stay in "Europe", we can reap the "huge rewards" by remaining "doggedly engaged".

But, after telling us with would be "an historical error" to bug out of the Union just now, they do add that the aim of "ever closer union" in every policy area is wrong.

Their happy little manifesto thus calls for the EU to become "leaner and meaner", saying it must "focus only on essential tasks and not be diverted". It must "do better in getting value from its budget" and it must "eliminate fraud and be more transparent with its decision-making processes".

A little while ago, though Clarke was complaining about "right-wing national escapism", but now it seems he's indulging in his own brand of escapism.

What would be really nice, one day, is to sit down and have a serious debate about the EU with someone who could break away from the rhetoric and really address the issues. But, as long as there are people like Clarke around, I guess it'll never happen.

We'll just have to collect up our historical errors. In the old days, we'd get Green Shield stamps for them. Should we now expect Air Miles?






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