Well we’re getting some things clearer now in the great EU debate, but you still have to sort the wisdom from the myths.
Your columns have been reminding us of both. On May 22 we vote for a political party to fight for what each of us wants in the European Parliament. Our democratic right as European citizens. And since the election works on the basis of proportional representation every individual vote counts - arguably maybe a fairer democratic process than the first-past-the-post system for Westminster.
So a political process – fair, above board, WYSIWIG, in which we all individually have a choice to make. That is the whole point of the elections on 22 May. The parties have been setting out what they stand for and the choice is now up to us.
Doubtless in the end none of us will get exactly what we want but politics always means compromise. Looks like democracy to me. How on earth do some people make out of this the unaccountable alien empire of the ‘Brussels’ myth.
I’m Sussex born and bred, old enough to remember the horrors in Europe of WW2 and can take a long view. As Europe over the years has cooperated increasingly the benefits have been immense – peaceful settlements of our disagreements, vastly improved employment prospects and prosperity, immeasurably better social conditions, huge advances in health and education, transformed travel and communications. Much of this has not been easily achieved and much we’ve done here in the UK for ourselves; but all of it has had value added because we’ve understood our European neighbours better and cooperated with them. Madness to retreat back to the past – and anyway the past is not what it used to be - and give up on the value added.
We live again in difficult times and there is a sense of discouragement. Much needs to change, in our own UK institutions and practices, and certainly in Europe’s ways of doing things. But all the big picture stuff in our globalised world – climate change, political instability, insecurity, pressures on the environment, intolerance, economic inequalities - all these will affect us all here as much as everyone else. So vote, vote, vote - and sleeves rolled up to work on the issues together. There is no other effective way to go.
Our traditions here in Sussex are a heady mix of Roman, Saxon, Viking, Norman, French, Spanish and all the other less warlike incomers since. And when you meet Sussex folk around the world you realise we’ve gone walkabout too, so it has gone both ways. This is Sussex – Britain too – at its lively, outward looking, adaptable, positive best. The way ahead now has to lie in just that spirit, not by creating resentment and hostility in our neighbours, but by working in good faith with others. This is the UK I want to see represented in the European Parliament - to creep back into selfish, resentful, suspicious isolation is not the best of British. Europe was, and is, our wider patch of the planet, so Europeans we are. But we are of Sussex and Britain too, and now need to buckle down and go on working with our neighbours to the advantage of all three. We have each of us a choice to make, so vote on 22 May - and vote positive, vote real!