Calls for great, inspirational political leaders are as old as the hills, and as a rhetorical device they are mostly vacuous. But Timothy Garton Ash has a point of sorts when it comes to the lack of nerve displayed by leading EU politicians.
For good or ill, we live today in a post-nation-state world in which there exist political and economic institutions, together with cultural loyalties, which transcend national boundaries. For example, how about substituting “Euro-“ with “Brito-“ (or, heaven forfend, “Anglo-“) in Gareth Williams’ reflection on the Garton Ash article. One could express the same criticisms about the ‘British project’ as we regularly hear made in these isles of the European Union.
For me personally Europe is a hugely important issue, and I am very much attached to my European identity. This, while in no way excluding other affiliations, even where there may be a superficial clash of interests. As it happens, my identity as an EU citizen is stronger than any loyalty I may have to the UK, although local community always comes first, wherever that may be at the time. The United Kingdom is as much an artificial entity as the European Union, but such artificiality does not necessarily render it useless or worse.
I find it sad and entirely predictable that the British media from left to right has chosen to report recent comments made by Angela Merkel, and truncate the German chancellor’s words so as to make it seem as if she believes that the Euro currency is in crisis. That’s not what Merkel said at all, and it’s disingenuous to claim otherwise.
It is the height of hubris for British media commentators to gloat over euro-woes while ignoring the fact that Sterling is no longer a currency of import beyond our shores. But that is exactly what we were treated to yesterday on the UK’s television and radio news broadcasts. Let’s not forget that the UK economy seems set to deteriorate further vis-à-vis those of our European neighbours.
I wish I could say that I’m looking forward to seeing David Cameron drink from his poisoned chalice. But I’m not, as all of us in Britain will suffer if our economy goes tits up.