Most political parties are, thankfully, diverse organisations with members that do not always agree on everything. Without such conflict, political collectives would be filled to an even greater degree than they already are with automaton politicians robotically repeating the party line. Lord knows, we have more than our fair share of those as it is – especially in the United Kingdom with the whip system. So it was refreshing this week to be able to publish two very different opinion articles on Britain's relationship with Europe from two very different Conservative Party politicians – MEPs James Elles and Martin Callanan.
Elles delivers a compelling view
on just why the UK should start to come to terms with its loss of empire and embrace Europe as the tool to deal with a multi-polar world where the west is no longer the best. Putting forward a credible counterpoint
, Callanan suggests that European integration and the widening and deepening of the European Union could result in national democracy being extinguished. For, if governments are not able to control their taxation and spending policies, people will have nothing to vote for - he says.
So let us contrast and compare their fundamental arguments. Fighting against Euroscepticism and UK isolationism that is perhaps the "historical mirage" of being unable to accept the loss of British Empire, Elles insists: "We must not simply hanker after a world where Britain ran an Empire including a quarter of the worlds' population - a world that no longer exists. Nor must we allow our judgement to be clouded by focussing too much on minutiae of how Europe is run and too little on the big picture. We must, above all, try to understand the speed of change taking place beyond our European frontiers.
"We must inform ourselves as best we can about the type of world that Britain and the rest of Europe are likely to find themselves facing over the coming decades. It is, after all, the future of our country and its people about which we will be called upon to decide. One thing we can safely say is that it will be radically different than it is today. China is expected to be the world's largest economy by 2030. The European Union 27 will still be the third largest, with the United States in second place."
Meanwhile, Callanan's polar opposite view of 'more Europe' being nothing more than "tired dogma" - with the euro acting as a wedge to drive countries apart rather than bring them together, as was its original aim – deserves just as much credence and consideration. He adds: "It seems to me that instead of pushing towards fiscal union or preparing for a eurozone downsizing, the European Commission is preoccupied with pushing towards political union. You can understand why Germany wants to seize control of euro nations' budgetary policies. After all, it wants to ensure some countries do not drag them into this perilous situation again. But for the commission, the drive towards political union seems to be the only 'solution'.
"This is where alarm bells should be ringing across the continent. National elections might as well be about who has the best policy for mowing the lawns as that will be about the limit of national parliamentary powers. This is a dangerous road to go down. People do not want it. They want to be able to influence their own destinies through the ballot box. We risk taking that chance away from them. In a time when we all face our own economic mortality, the commission might be able to get away with it. But, in the future, we are cooking ourselves a recipe for considerable social unrest. The EU might succeed in ramming increasingly disparate countries together into a political super-state. But if they do, it will be the people of Europe erupting in frustration at their inability to control events."
Reading these quotes and, indeed, the full articles – you realise that both MEPs raise pertinent points. Both men are truly concerned about the state of their nation and wider Europe. And it should be acceptable for both stances to be discussed within the same political party. Otherwise, party organisations become nothing more than a stagnant pool of professional politicians cut from the same cloth and expressing the same narrow ideologies. Unfortunately, some of the Twitterati
have already used the articles as a stick to hit the Conservative Party with. Questions such as – where do the Tories really stand – are not only predictable but a sad indictment of the lack of maturity when it comes to Brits debating Europe.
However, here at PublicServiceEurope.com
, we take the view that political diversity should be celebrated just as much as political unity. Without both, you simply end up with some sort of politburo. It may now have become somewhat of a cliché, but "power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" as John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton once said. So rather than shouting down your political opponent, it is sometimes wise to listen to all they have to say and, possibly, to even try to learn something from their words of wisdom. After all, the rest of us do it in the real world. Go on, give it a try you politicos out there.