Sunday, December 11, 2011

Are the Lib Dems really pro-European?

I was planning to get my head round this whole Euro row thing so that I could post something vaguely coherent on here. But Jonathan Calder (Small row in Europe, not many hurt) has pretty much summed up my view, so why say the same thing again when one can just post a link?

It seems to me that the reaction of Lib Dems to the Cameron veto has been relatively restrained. I don't really find this surprising. Lib Dem attitudes towards Europe reminds me of G.K. Chesterton's The man who was Thursday. In this novel, the members of an anarchist cell are one-by-one revealed to be undercover policemen. In a similar way, Lib Dem activists, often portrayed in the media as starry-eyed pro-Europeans, are more often than not undercover Eurosceptics. Time and again I let slip in conversation to a Lib Dem colleague that I don't quite share the party's zeal for the European project only to be told that neither do they.

Genuine Euro-enthusiasts seem to me relatively thin on the ground in the Lib Dems, although one did tell me during the 2005 general election that the campaign was a useful building block for the referendum on the European constitution. But such sentiments are relatively rare. I am not of course saying that there are many Lib Dems who are Eurosceptic in the Tory sense (obsessive about sovereignty and regulations). It's just that it wouldn't surprise me if the Euro-doubters are actually a majority in the party, but have simply assumed we are in a minority and not felt strongly enough ever to put up a fight on the issue.

I suppose the next few days and weeks will show quite how brightly the Pro-European star burns within the Lib Dems.

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