From: British archaeology discussion list <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Dave Tooke <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: 27 May 2016 13:16
>Well, yes only some MEPs are from Britain (and of those many can't be bothered to actually turn up and vote - looking at you UKIP MEPs).
>However, just as any democracy, it represents all of the people. If you want a Europe which only does what Britain wants them you are struggling with the concept of democracy. If you feel that our narrow >national interest is all that matters then you are not speaking for me or millions like me.
Well now, some interesting comments there, though I'd suggest slightly misrepresenting what I'd said. But to address each in turn:
If the EU are (and the evidence suggest they are, whether the UK remains or not) almost unanimously heading in the direction of a 'United States of Europe', then any dissenting voices by the MEPs of only one of those 28 nations will hardly be heard. So whether they turn up to vote or not they are never going to be able to alter the course of such political trajectories.
Democracy does indeed represent all the people of whichever constituency is involved. However, the rest of Europe - or at least, their political leaders in Brussels (you'd have to ask the actual voters in each country, in which case you might get a surprisingly different answer) seem to want a different kind of future for 'Europe' than the UK. That is, a 'United States of Europe'; which wasn't actually what the British people were asked to vote on at the last Referendum in 1975 (when the choice was whether or not to stay in a 'free-trading-block' called the EEC). Hence - since the goal-posts have been moved over the intervening 41 years - we are getting a second referendum. No doubt some other European countries' populations might actually like a referendum of their own on the same question. As for myself, I think you are being disingenuous to suggest: 'If you want a Europe which only does what Britain wants then you are struggling with the concept of democracy', since I have never asked for any such thing, of course. The entire point of what I said previously being that the UK has a God-given right to argue for what is in its own best interest - just as every other country in the world does also, whether a part of the EU or not. And I would no more expect 'Europe to do only what Britain wants' (as you suggest) than I would expect 'the rest of Europe only to do what Britain wants'. Either scenario amounts to dictatorship, despotism, tyranny & (dare I suggest a widely evidenced parallel from human history) 'Empire-building'. Indeed, central government of the UK from Westminster was recently the (alleged) reason for the SNP call for a vote on Scottish independence. So what's good enough for Scotland isn't good enough for the UK? We aren't allowed our own referendum on independence as well?
Many on this list may sneer at Boris Johnson for drawing parallels between the ambitions of the EU in Brussels and the imperial pretentions of historical regimes, but the comparison is there to be made. Indeed, one would think that the benefit of the study of history (& archaeology, linguistics etc.) is that it gives us the chance to avoid repeating such mistakes... Indeed, one can recall the last time the entire European continent was amalgamated within a regime of 'single-currency', 'free movement of people', 'government from an unelected central nexus' etc. We call it the Roman Empire (which is a parallel that I personally drew here on Britarch several years ago, btw). And much as I (and previous generations of illustrious British archaeologists, such as Mortimer Wheeler, Sheppard Frere, Peter Salway, etc.) may have actually considered being part of the Roman Empire a 'good thing' (for reasons of economic prosperity, peaceful co-existence with our neighbours, the introduction of 'Roman law', general improvement in health, hygiene & standard of living etc.) it is - frankly - of great surprise to me that such a parallel is scarcely considered by the contemporary archaeological community. Indeed, mention 'Roman Britain' to many modern English archaeologists and they immediately 'cross themselves', throw their arms in the air and generally issue oaths of denunciation. Yet they apparently love the EU... despite the parallels.
Lastly, I have never said (as you also suggest) that I feel 'our narrow national interest is all that matters'. But if *you*, yourself, believe in democracy, then you must accept that the British people's national interest must come before any other national interest *in our own* democracy, and not be subservient to the national (or 'unionised') interests of others. We have to work *with* the rest of Europe - as well as the rest of the free world - to promote free-trade rather than the endemic warfare, colonialism or imperialism of the past. But that does not mean signing-up for a new 'Roman Empire' run from Brussels. Even an ardent Romanist like me would never promote such a concept in today's world :-)
>As to the United States not following the advice Obama offered us - maybe a quick read up of what the United States actually is may be beneficial.
Yes, we all *know* that the United States is a 'nation of immigrants'. And before you rush to congratulate them on that, you might like to pause to consider all the 'native American' tribes who were dispossessed in order to bring that about, btw. But in any case, the concept of 'Manifest destiny' - by which the US actually solicited the immigration of millions of poor, Eastern European refugees etc. to come to America and 'fill their open spaces' - was a 19th c. means of populating what was considered (from a purely capitalist, economic point-of-view) an 'empty continent'. However, today, the US is - for want of a better word - 'full-up'. Not just economically and geographically but environmentally (you have to consider all the wildlife in the inexorable process of human expansion across the planet, not just 'the narrow self-interest of Homo sapiens', to paraphrase your own figure of speech :-)
Which leads us onto what the darling of the wildlife/environmental movement - Sir David Attenborough - has been warning us all about for the last 40 years: Human overpopulation, and the threat it poses to *all * life on our planet, not just human civilization. There comes a point when every nation has the right to say: 'Enough. We have a larger population than our country has the right to be expected to support, and we cannot just continue expanding to the detriment of our own natural environment, never mind our human population.' And with archaeologists being inherently against all future house-building which might inadvertently disturb the archaeology, please explain to me exactly how those who vote to remain within the EU (with its irrevocable policy of 'free-movement of people') intend supplying the housing for the projected rise in UK population when we cannot build fast enough to match the current housing-crisis? Just how many millions does anyone think this island can house? Because there is clearly a lack of 'joined-up-thinking' in how we manage a continually growing population. And before any of the 'usual suspects' try accusing me of 'racism' that point has absolutely *nothing* to do with anyone's 'ethnic origin'; it's a simple demographic question of *numbers*.
>TTIP is way out in the long grass, and will not happen as proposed - objections from the UK France and Germany among others will kill it in its present form.
And are you as certain of that as the 'Brexit' camp are that Britain will survive economically outside of the EU?
>MEPs can ask the Commission to draw up legislation. One of the reforms I would like to see is that "Commissioners" are abolished - and that each department be headed by an MEP elected to the role by their >peers.
Ah, but David, that is merely your personal 'aspiration', and was not even one of the (rather inconsequential) 'reforms' that Mr. Cameron wrang out of the EU recently. Do you really think that the EU is ever going to reform in the way you would like *if only* we vote to stay in? Or is that hope any more grounded than the apparently 'fantastical' claims that Europe will still want to trade with the UK once outside the EU 'because it's in their own 'best-interest' to do so' :-)
>There are, as Lord Bramall very recently pointed out, areas of strife that require a European response but are not of interest to NATO.
Well perhaps the United Nations - and its dedicated peacekeeping forces - can start pulling its weight on the international stage for once & do something about that...