December 16, 2003


We have to tear it up and start again: The constitution would have been a disaster - and I helped to write it! (Gisela Stuart, December 17, 2003, The Guardian)

I have bad news for Max Hastings, who said on these pages on Monday that, after reading my Fabian pamphlet, he was "no longer a European". Max, neither you nor I can change geography. You are British by birth and I was born in Germany - we are both Europeans whether we like it or not.

I have bad news for the Tories too. My criticisms of the constitution do not mean I have joined their ranks of sterile "Eurosceptics". They were the ones who signed up to every single significant treaty that shaped the EU as it is today; and they now denounce it. They offer no alternative other than the mantra of the Little Englander who sticks to the firm belief that "nothing good has ever come from the east" - and it does not seem to matter whether they are led by John Major, William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith or Michael Howard.

But something has gone wrong with the Europe defined by the blue flag and the 12 golden stars which goes beyond the simplistic divide of Europhile and Europhobe. There is more to the failure of the weekend's intergovernmental conference than a spat between Poland and Spain and the rest over voting weights. If it had been just that, a committed pro-European like myself - I spent 16 months of my life helping draft the constitution - would have been deeply disappointed. And yet I am not. I think it was a narrow escape for the European Union.

First Step: We admitted we were powerless over the Euro-bureaucrats -- that our lives had become unmanageable.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 16, 2003 10:33 PM

Love ya Gisela. (Any relation to Mary, by the way?)

Posted by: Barry Meislin at December 17, 2003 8:08 AM

Once again we see the disdain for "Little Englanders". My impression of the Brits is that, left or right, Euroscetpic or Europhile, it's the most insulting thing one can say.

A liberal journalist (name escapes me)wrote a book a few years ago it which he described British political, social and cultural traditions. In chapter after chapter, he decribed them with wit and insight in all their irrational, humourous glory and talked movingly about how much he loved them. But in each case he concluded they had no place in the modern, rational world and would have to go. I thought he badly needed therapy.

It may be a fear of being associated with yobs and racists, who have appropriated the lingo, but this is a big difference between the British and most Americans, who don't apologize for their history.

Posted by: Peter B at December 17, 2003 8:56 AM

Again the insistence that "Europe" is inevitable.
In fact,"Europe" as well as Europe faces a bleak future.

Posted by: M. at December 17, 2003 11:29 AM