Friday, June 17, 2005

Polly Toynbee: in Europe, not America

Polly Toynbee, despite the present Euro-crisis, attempts to rally the troops to the European cause. As usual, Polly likes to get in a bit of national self-loathing:
"But look at him, the man who promised never again to see Britain isolated in Europe, now in a minority of one against 24, opposed even by his closest allies as he scrambles for every penny of "our money" handbagged by Margaret Thatcher."
Well, firstly - being isolated doesn't mean you're wrong but in any case, it seems that this line is a little out of date. This from the Times:
"JACQUES CHIRAC suffered a double blow as the EU summit opened last night when he was forced to admit defeat over the European constitution, and Tony Blair won powerful allies for his campaign to cut French agricultural subsidies.

Mr Blair feared isolation in his battle over Britain’s £3 billion rebate unless there was a thorough overhaul of EU farm spending as well.

But Dutch and Swedish leaders backed the Prime Minister’s call for the £600 billion budget to be reduced, and Mr Blair received a surprise incentive to stall in negotiations when the conservative politician expected to be Germany’s next leader told France to cut back its agricultural subsidies.

Angela Merkel, favourite to replace Gerhard Schröder in September, said that it was unreasonable to expect Britain to surrender its rebate if France would not cut farm subsidies."
Quite - and while it is correct to say "Only three leaders supported him over Iraq", this only applies to the 15. I realise it's very inconvenient for those who have used Iraq as an opportunity to advocate European unity as an alternative to the USA but the fact remains that a majority of the enlarged EU supported the invasion of Iraq.

Finally, apparently the Cold War was won with cuddles:
"It will take visionary leadership to persuade people that Europe's great mission has been spreading democracy to fascist and communist dictatorships, not by invasion but by the soft power of embrace."
Nothing to do with Reagan spending the Soviets into the ground, then? Not that I don't wish she was right; who couldn't use more cuddles?

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