European Union: Talking Turkey

The curious thing about “Brexit” (the Referendum on whether Britain should stay in or leave the so-called European Union) is that it is a debate between Institutions that I dont like and Individuals who I dont like.

On one side there are the “banks” and “big business”. On the other side…Boris Johnson MP (Tory Mayor of London), Nigel Farage MEP (UKIP) ,Kate Hoey MP (Labour) and Sammy Wilson MP (DUP) My vote will put a smile on some very unworthy faces.

The thing about “Europe” is that it might be very pragmatic but it is impossible for me to “love” being European in the same way  that I love Ireland. When I am sitting up all night to watch the Olympics, I wont feel any empathy with French cyclists, Romanian gymnasts, Polish pole vaulters and British anything. I wont be getting emotional over any Flag or Anthem but my own.

“Europe” is a failure. Whether or not it is better to be “in” or “out” is a different question. I voted “NO” in the 1970s to something called the Common Market and I have opposed every single measure that advanced political integration. It did no good of course. We are where we are…possibly too integrated to disentangle the project without causing too much pain.

If anyone is to persuade me to vote “YES”, the only argument to which I will listen is the one that tells me that I cant turn back the clock. Dont try and tell me it is all a great idea. Like the “good ole rebel” in the Confederate song, I fought it all I could. .”I aint a gonna love it…now that it is certain sure”.

The European “project” reached its nadir when it expanded from  fifteen to twenty-five nations. With recognition that Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia  and more so Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia had moved from the Czarist/Soviet/Russian sphere into the Western sphere, the power balance in the world has changed. Putin’s aggression in Ukraine is a direct consequence.

The collapse of so many economies (notably Greece) after 2008 and the migrant crisis has worsened things.

It is impossible to look at the TV news and see dead children washed up on beaches, the conditions in camps on the Greece-Macedonia border or shanty towns being demolished on the French coast…and feel good about being “European”.

I am not a big fan of the young single men …economic migrants. But it is clear that entire families are on the move….a mass migration, unprecedented in modern times.

And Europe is panicked. Germany and Sweden might well have had the right humanitarian instincts but they have finally been overwhelmed by the numbers and undermined by the rise of Racism.

Understandably people fleeing human rights abuses are attracted to countries with a good human rights records. And that makes pre-2005 EU a better prospect than the expanded EU after 2005.

We have the bizarre spectacle of David Cameron, whose Tory Party used migration trying to take the toxic issue out of the Brexit Referendum. We have the bizarre spectacle of Vernon Coaker, the British Labour spokesman coming to Belfast to campaign for a YES vote. That would be the same Vernon Coaker who voted to bomb Syria….and that conflict is the reason for children are drowning in the sea between Turkey and Greece.

Ah Turkey….now thats not exactly a human rights success story. Last week, the Turkish government took over the country’s leading newspaper. And tonight in Brussels, “Europe” is bribing Turkey with billions to accept refugees sent back.

A disgrace.

Of course that is only the beginning. Turkey wants to be a member of the European Union. Leaving aside the absurdity of a mostly Asian country joining “Europe”, is there anyone who seriously think that Turkey will be converted to Decency? And of course, freedom of movement means Turkish people will migrate to …..Germany, Sweden, Britain.

Has it got so bad that Europe courts Turkey?

And is Turkey claiming to be European any more absurd than Israel claiming to be European?

There are at least two strands within Europe…and the NATO members cannot dictate the pace for the neutrals like Sweden, Finland, Austria and…Ireland. It is a simple fact that our instincts and history are better than mainstream European values. It should not be a matter of Ireland rushing to accept the European mainstream.

Of course there are practicalities. If leaving Europe is bad for Britain….then I am certainly tempted to vote to leave. Britain’s difficulty is Ireland’s oppprtunity. Nor does the thought of the break up of the “United Kingdom” fill me with a morbid fear…an English “NO” and a Scottish “YES” amuses me.

But ultimately, I see it thru an Irish prism. Has European integration helped or hindered the integration of the North of Ireland with the South of Ireland? Will Britain leaving Europe divide Ireland further?

If you seek to persuade me, dont tell me what is good for Europe…..cos I dont give a damn.

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19 Responses to European Union: Talking Turkey

  1. Sinn Féin Supporter in Tyrone says:

    Sinn Féin is ….

    EDIT Comment deleted.

  2. Sinn Féin Supporter in Tyrone says:

    Why has my comment been deleted?

  3. Political Tourist says:

    So John Hume’s and the SDLPs “Europe of the Regions” is dead in the water (no pun intended or meant)
    I’d rather not vote than say i was on the same side as Boris, Farage, Hoey and Wilson.

    • I was never convinced about membership and I still consider myself neutral.
      I am not going to be convinced by institutions that I dont like. Nor am I going to be convinced by racists and xenophobes.

      It is the worst possible time for sensible debate. And I fear that the summer will be very bad.

  4. Brexit, probably bad for the Six Counties, possibly good for the Thirty-Two Counties. That is how I’m leaning at the moment. If an end to EU-subsidies and funding, not to mention new border controls for non-EU UK nationals, etc. persuades more nationalists that reunification is the only option to safeguard their future, and some unionists can be persuaded to favour the same option on selfish economic, etc. grounds, then the initial chaos of the Brexit might be well worth it.

    As I think you said before, nationalism needs a cause – or a grievance – to act as an engine of change.

    • I am old enough to remember my uncle who lived near the Armagh-Monaghan border and how he used to produce insurance documentation at border checkpoints. This wasthe norm in the 1960s and Iknow that travel to and from GAA matches was difficult.
      But there has always been free movement of people between Britain and the Republic of Ireland so I cant see any dramatic change.
      There were restrictions on people from Republic living and/or working in the North. They needed a licence from the Norths Ministry of Home Affairs and they were not issued often.
      Although I certainly remember customs officers in early 1970s boarding trains at Portadown in the 1970s, it was always pretty cursory. So I cant see much change.
      Really in the 1970s border crossing hold ups were more about “the security situation” than an “international frontier”.
      Certainly I cant see that whole apparatus being re-introduced.
      Sinn Féin have totally reversed their position. Being in government means “responsibility”. And I think the DUP are at heart xenophobic…to go along with their other phobias about Catholics, gays, women etc.
      But their position is actually more nuanced. They have said they are for Brexit but they know that wont really go down well with business and farmers. They would much prefer if the issue hadnever been raised. They might well call for a NO vote and hope for a YES vote.
      There are too many complications….the North….Scotland….and I suspect Cameron has made a huge mistake. Most Tories are by nature xenophobic and people like Boris Johnson want to use the issue while hoping Labour rescues the situation.
      So basically Tories need to be careful. The anti-EU rhetoric is a handy way of mobilising the party faithful but they don actually want to leave.
      The Referendum will be overtaken by events. The Migrants…Europe has no meaningful response. Bombing Syria and controlling migration is not joined up thinking.
      More deaths at sea.
      More Paris-like attacks.
      And sooner or later deaths in camps at European borders….
      a Referendum might have seemed a good idea to avoid a Tory split five years ago. Now it looks like it could bite Cameron. He will not survive the fall out, whatever the result.

      • Sinn Féin Supporter in Tyrone says:

        I think the point to note here is that access to the European markets is good for jobs and good for investment.

      • When did Sinn Féin do a U-turn?

      • All true, though I wonder how it would effect the post-GFA situation? Special arrangements would swing into place I presume, though couched in the patronising language of “these shared islands”, rather than saying, oops, putting up border controls and telling the Irish community in the north-east that they are no longer EU citizens might serve as a (weak) casus belli for the Dissidents so we’re leaving the Six Counties out of the full-Brexit.

        Some might be cold on the EU but would they be happy with requiring an Irish passport to prove that that they can travel freely within the Union, post-Brexit? Interesting legal tussles ahead.

        Though I still think the OUT campaign will loose.

      • Eighteen months ago, I thought that the 55-45 NO vote in Scotland was actually a better result than a more narrow YES vote. It is that “needing a grievance” thing.
        Scotland has it…thats what produced a landslide last year (Westminster).
        So I tend to think that I want what is best for me and my community….and that might mean that I need different results in different places and communities.
        Leaving Norn Iron aside, Wales, Scotland and London will vote YES.
        But the rest of England by region and ethnicity, age and class ….even specific jobs (finance sector, farming, unemployed).and even divisions in Labour and Conservative ranks
        ukip bound to rise as SNP did.
        it could well be a fracture….even re-allignment of British (English) politics and that will be an interesting decade for us all.

  5. Sinn Féin Supporter in Tyrone says:

    Its odd that the UUP have gone for REMAIN while the DUP have gone for EXIT.

  6. I agree – vote to leave. If it causes constitutional problems it should be good for Ireland

    • Sinn Féin and SDLP have moved to a position of making Norn Iron work to make it more attractive to the Republic.
      Arguably a YES vote in North and a NO vote in Britain opens the door to a closer relationship between North and South.

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