LibLink: Christine Jardine: Let’s be grateful for the EU

Former Special Adviser and current Scottish Euro candidate Christine Jardine writes in the Scotsman about what Europe means to her and how she first became aware of what it meant as a child:

For me, joining what was then the EEC was the beginning of a very different, more positive and much less life-threatening relationship with the Continent than the previous generations of my family had experienced.

In 1973 Europe was all about new money, counting everything in tens and hundreds and new equipment to learn with at school.

Yard sticks were out and metre sticks were in. No more inches. It was all centimetres, or so we thought.

And very shortly afterwards we began to feel that we were actually part of an organisation that would build a stronger safer Europe.

In the run-up to the European elections, we can’t hand the ground over to UKIP and the “dark corners” of the Conservative Party, she argues:

What they have in common is that, in different ways, they put at risk those three million jobs and undermine billions of pounds of investment in our economy.

The SNP raise doubts about Scotland’s future with their independence obsession.

But more than that they have consistently voted against new Scottish jobs at the EU.

The SNP opposed a new EU free trade agreement which has doubled UK exports to Korea. Alyn Smith MEP voted against the creation of a single EU-patent which will save Scottish inventors thousands of pounds. Meanwhile the Tories’ eurosceptic statements also risk undermining our role in the EU, and we must not allow their own internal squabbles to hijack this important debate.

Lib Dem MEPs and government ministers have been at the forefront of getting the EU to reform, and deliver important things for Scotland:

Speaking to LibDem MEP George Lyon in Aberdeenshire recently he stressed the changes that he feels we should all know about, and take into account when it comes to ranking our preferences in May’s election.

As a negotiator on the Common Agricultural Policy reform he pointed to the fact that it delivered a deal that protected farm payments for Scottish farmers.

Danny Alexander recently announced that the fuel duty discount scheme being piloted on UK islands may now be extended to rural areas of the mainland.

And on the EU budget itself, George Lyon tells me the new deal will deliver £6 billion of investment to Scotland.

You can read the whole article here.

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  • What memories! I remember General De Gaulle vetoing our application to join the EEC in 1963. At that time, Labour had more anti-EEC MPs than the Tories. Strange but true. Hugh Gaitskell said publicly that joining the EEC would mean “the end of a thousand years of history”. How things change. I remember January 1973 when Edward Heath made the crucial decision to join the then Common Market and subsequently Harold Wilson’s 1974 election manifesto which pledged a referendum on whether we should stay in or come out of the EEC. I recall a Labour Party conference in April 1975, which voted by a majority of around 2:1 to leave the EEC and that well respected Labour MPs at the time such as Anthony Wedgwood Benn and Michael Foot were against it. Well, that is all history now, the Common Market has moved on and most Liberal Democrats including me are strongly pro-EU. I am proud that we advocate institutional reform to advance European federalism. I am a strong supporter of a European federation. I think increased integration will help to ensure full mobility of the workforce across Europe. I have a dream of having one European army with a common command, a common diplomatic corps and one seat for Europe at the United Nations Security Council, replacing all the outdated national seats. I would go further; the European Federation I favour would have a single European treasury, which should manage the federal budget through a central tax system controlled by the EU. Of course, we would have to join the Euro to make this effective, but I am certain we can make this dream a reality if we keep up our efforts to educate the British public.

  • Sue, I admire your eloquence, I could not have put it better myself.
    It should be obvious by now that we have to put in place a federal government of Europe. Having a common currency more or less demands a political union.
    Such a lost opportunity that Gordon Brown had all his petty rules that blocked us joining the Euro. I very much doubt that the Conservatives would contemplate it, not with UKIP on their heels.
    If we are to have any hope of achieving our aims then I think Sue that we have to get into bed – with the Labour party.

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