Thursday, June 04, 2009


I'm about to go vote - and if you are in the UK and you haven't voted yet today, get out and do it! There are lots of reasons to vote today, not least defeating fascism. But I am most interested in voting for a party which will substantially renegotiate the relationship of the UK to the EU. I am a Eurosceptic. There, I said it.

But why?

Because I believe in accountable government. The Parliament we are about to elect has insufficient powers to hold the executive of the EU in check. Aforementioned executive is not even elected. Even the Parliamentarians we vote for today are not personally elected by us - we just vote for party lists. How are we, the people, supposed to hold even our representatives accountable, let alone the executive?

Because I believe in local government. The larger and more diverse the area governed, the more likely it is that a majority will be able to override the wishes of a very large number of people. What is more, any link between the government and people is lost. It is too easy for governments to become self-interested rather than acting in the interests of the people.

Because I believe in small government. Do I really need to pay taxes to fund a whole extra level of government and bureaucracy on top of the city, county and national governments? Not convinced. Essentially, more government=less freedom and larger bills to pay.

Because I believe in history. I can't help reading the whole EU experiment as an attempt to force together disparate cultures with diverse histories. Why should that work? Where else in the world has it ever worked? We can barely hold the UK together, for goodness sake.

Because I believe in monarchy. It would take a long time to explain why, and many of you would think I was bonkers. But I actually believe that constitutional monarchy is the best way to govern a country. I therefore tend to see anything that makes the Crown subject to external (as opposed to internal, national) restraints as treasonous.

So, off I go to vote...


  1. Hi Daniel

    Thank you for being open with your position, and giving some explanation for it. As someone who is easily confused by these things, it helps solidify some of my own thinking too.

    I think I would stand with you on some-most of these issues, particularly on small, local government. However, I still have questions about how this applies in a fast-changing world where national boundaries are increasingly blurred, and where it becomes increasingly difficult to control a global economy to ensure the welfare of all, not just the wealthy or powerful.

    For example, I would like to buy from local producers as much as possible, and yet I often have to make decisions that have a global impact. Where consumer is less directly-linked to producer, do we need some form of government that helps protect the powerful from perpetuating the slavery of the vulnurable? And if so, what does that / should that look like, from a Biblical perspective?

    I don't say that because I believe in the EU, but because I struggle with, well, actually even being conscious of the wider impact of many of my decisions, to be frank. Living in light of the gospel should shape all of my decisions, and yet I rarely take time to think beyond 'convenience'.

    Having been out and voted today, one thing I was quite startled by was the number of 'nationalistic' parties represented on the ballot paper for the European Parliament. Is the only non-EU option to be inward looking, bigoted and self-serving, which would seem to be the manifesto of the BNP, UKIP and 'Britain First'? How should we vote to reflect the gospel call to love our neighbour as ourself, even when this is costly? Do we want fewer immigrants in the UK because caring for the needy would have an impact on our comfortable lifestyle?

    These questions are as much to myself as anything else, and are not intended to be pointed comments in response to what you have written - rather they have been provoked by what you have written, and come for a deeply unsettled view that the gospel needs to have a much greater impact in our nation and in our world - what are we doing about it?

    "Listen to me, my people;
    hear me, my nation:
    The law will go out from me;
    my justice will become a light to the nations.
    - Isaiah 51:4

  2. PS - I think you would enjoy reading Vinoth Ramachandra

  3. hi dan - I think if you'd lived on the continent, you might think differently about the EU. Economically and diplomatically, there's lots to celebrate in what has been achieved in the last 25 years in Europe.

    I also wonder if there's a pragmatic argument from "it's either a european liberal unity of diversity or an increasingly nationalistic unity from Russia, or an anti-western anti-liberal unity from Islam? Now, the gospel will undercut all those, and be able to suffer and subvert each one, but with cases like Ukraine & Turkey, maybe it's better the devil you know...? I might find what friends from Ukraine & Turkey think.

  4. Andy - just a few little issues to sort out there then! I don't know that I have even the beginning of an answer, to be honest. I'm sceptical (at best) about what can be achieved through government, and therefore sceptical about whether big gov't is the answer to big business... And I think recent events show that controlling the economy toward any goal at all is impossible even if all gov'ts pull together. I agree, though, that we don't want to be insular. I guess I'd prefer an intergovernmental approach to a super(supra?)governmental one...

    Chris - you could be right about my own experiences; obviously no real way to tell. I wonder whether a lot of the economic and diplomatic goals could have been scored without the federalist agenda? I can't help suspecting so...

  5. I should declare an interest, I have worked, albeit in a limited, for the European Commission. And I am one of those rare beasts, like Ken Clarke (though certainly not as 'big'), who thinks the EU is quite a good thing...

    I agree with much of what you say (small government, accountable government) but, with respect, I think they may be a sine qua non.

    But to make a positive case for the EU, I would say that (1) I believe in technocracy, at least to a degree, (2) I believe in free movement of goods, people, and services, and (3) the EU is a great force for bringing different yet fundamentally similar cultures together, and I celebrate it for that. It has not always been well run, it does not always spend money wisely, but it has in many ways created a Europe which is a much better place than before. There's a lot to celebrate culturally about what the EU has achieved.

    As for your view of monarchy, you possibly owe a full post on it...