2 June 2005


I wouldn't quite endorse everything that Timothy Garton Ash has to say in the Guardian today, (read it here), but it's close to the truth:
Visions are invoked of Blair and Britain riding to the rescue of the European project, during our presidency of the union in the second half of this year, with a galvanising insistence that what Europe needs now, more than ever, is British-style economic and social reform. Only thus can we face up to the dragons of globalisation. The hour of London has come. Cry God for England, Tony and St George!

This analysis is both completely right and absolutely wrong. It's completely right to say that more reform is the only way the more developed countries in Europe will prevent jobs continuing to leach away, both to central and east European countries with cheap skilled labour and, on a larger scale, to Asia. With all its faults, Blairism - more accurately, Blair-Brown-ism - is the closest any European country has come to combining American-style enterprise with European-style solidarity . . .

At the same time, the analysis is absolutely wrong. For the surest way to ensure that Europe does not adopt this necessary programme is for the British prime minister to advocate it, in missionary mode, at this particular juncture. The French, and now also the Dutch, have just delivered a resounding no, both to the treaty and to what they see as a British Europe. The perfect moment, then, for a British prime minister to say: "So, mes amis, you have spoken, and I conclude that what you really need is a British Europe!"

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