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Citizen Pauline sums up the problem with the EU


Pauline Bock has an identity crisis.

She writes in the New Statesman ‘as an EU citizen’, saying she can’t vote for Labour, her normal choice, or for anyone else. Thus her identity is more important in this vote than any policies on offer that might improve her life.

Of course, there is no such thing as an ‘EU citizen’. Instead there is a ‘citizen of a country that is a member of the EU’.

She writes in her incorrect capacity because she is reluctant to vote in the local elections for Corbyn’s Labour as she no longer recognises the party as being EU-friendly. Quelle surprise. She is clearly unaware that Labour never have been truly and consistently EU-friendly, cosying up to the EU only when it suited them, their leadership opposing membership and campaigning to leave on numerous occasions. In fact for 55 years it was the Conservative leadership that supported membership of the EEC/EC/EU until the electorate instructed them to change their policy in 2016.

However, these are elections for local authorities. The last time I checked, Lambeth, Hammersmith or wherever Pauline Bock votes does not have a foreign policy, still less one on relations with the EU.

She states she is an ‘EU citizen’, but not that she is French. Instead France is just ‘where I’m from’. And this crystallises the problem with the EU. It was created by European politicians who were in despair after two major wars had devastated the continent. They saw nationalism and the nation-state as being the core problem. Well, up to a point. Not all nationalism was at fault, just German nationalism. However other nationalisms could be blamed if they failed to keep the peace and were not robust enough to challenge German nationalism when it was expressed in military terms.

So nation-states were seen by continental Europeans as a Bad Thing, if not The Root Of All Evil. However there was one nation-state in Europe that managed to hold its own and assemble, through political and diplomatic skill, a coalition of nation-states willing to challenge and defeat the second bout of German militarism.

That was Britain. Where, of all the countries of the EU on offer to her, Pauline Bock chose to live and work.

While other nations might be ashamed of their country’s failures, whether it was being under the jackboot of a foreign oppressor or being the wearer of said jackboot and doing the oppressing, it was the British hobnail boot that crossed the Channel with its allies and told the owner of the jackboot that his time was over.

It is therefore not surprising that while other populations have been willing submissives to the whole idea of a European state having precedence over their national identity, Britain has had reservations. Our historical experience of European wars is radically different. We were not the conquerors and occupiers, or the defeated and occupied. Instead we were the liberators. There is no common history with other EU countries in that respect, unless those countries were once part of our empire.

We continue to see ourselves as British. Pauline Bock no longer regards herself as French. Thus the ideal behind the EU has succeeded on the continent. But this also explains why we are leaving the EU.

It is ironic that Pauline Bock will cast her vote or otherwise, not on the local policies presented by the political parties to curry her favour, but on the parties’ friendliness to the EU project. Ironic, because like every other ‘EU citizen’ it is actually impossible to cast any vote to change any EU-originated policy whatsoever. That is why the majority of people in the UK voted the way they did in June 2016.

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Paul T Horgan
Paul T Horgan
Paul T Horgan worked in the IT Sector. He lives in Berkshire.

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