Tuesday 28 April 2009

Little Ulster in a little Britain

One thing above all others shows up the narrow, insular and xenophobic nature of unionism – its attitude towards Europe. While Euroscepticism is a fairly marginal and cranky pastime in most parts of the EU, in the UK it has been adopted as a creed by a wide range of people who, to be frank about it, just don't like Johnny Foreigner.

And of course, in order to prove their 'more-British-than-thou' credentials, the DUP feels the need to jump on every anti-EU bandwagon they can find. The irony of a 'unionist' party actively supporting separatism and arguing against the pooling of resources, talent and risks, is, of course, entirely lost on them. It proves, yet again, that their 'unionism' is no more than anti-Irishness, and that they have neither understanding of, or interest in, genuine cooperation between peoples.

Proof of the DUP's position comes from the fact that eight of their nine MP's are members of "Better Off Out" – a "cross-party campaign to communicate the positive benefits for the United Kingdom of being outside the European Union". Their ex-MEP (and now sworn enemy) Jim Allister, is also a member, along with a small group of UKIP, Tory and Independent MEPs.

The whole thrust of the Better Off Out campaign is based on the sort of incorrect, misleading and prejudiced claims about the EU that are so common amongst the 'little Englander' jingoists of the right wing.

Claims like:

"Whilst we are happy to trade with our European neighbours, we are keen to see the UK trade globally, too. As China and India boom, it would be foolish to restrict ourselves to trading only with the continent." There is, of course, no such restriction.

"A decade of EU regulations has cost the UK £107 billion". Again, misleading, because regulations decided in partnership with other EU countries simply replace the need for national governments to adopt their own regulations, which they would have to do even if the EU didn't exist.

"The EU's humourless killjoys have censored [David Cerny's brilliant Entropa artwork]" – it was in fact the government of Bulgaria which asked for the offending part to be covered, as it showed Bulgaria as a toilet. Incidentally, the geniuses of 'Better Off Out' think this work is in the European Parliament when it is clearly in the building of the Council. Perhaps 'Better Off Out' like the artwork most because its depiction of the UK is, well, simply an empty space! (top left in the picture linked; Bulgaria is middle right)

And on and on it goes.

In their attempt to wrap the flag around themselves, to usurp some half-baked 'spirit of the blitz' feeling, and to ingratiate themselves with the narrowest of the Little Englanders, the DUP has signed up en masse to this kind of nonsense. No mention of the money that flows, in its billions, from the EU to Northern Ireland. No mention of the benefits of open markets, free movement of goods, services and people. No mention of international solidarity, of regional aid, of the Erasmus Programme, of the Research and Development Programmes, of the ECB, … nothing. Just blind jingoistic criticism. Not even an attempt to identify any problems and solve them – even Libertas is too pro-EU for them – they just want out, to become the New Albania.

And sensible people in Northern Ireland will vote for a DUP candidate on June 4?

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