1/ Some thoughts about Brexit, remain/rejoin, Europeanism and identity.

This thread has been stimulated by a discussion with a political scientist friend, Thomas Stocks, and also by reading an article in the @Daily_Express today:
2/ Thomas and I have collected a lot of data on the psychology of Brexit and we were wondering what to do with it. I suddenly realised we were trying to find out "what was wrong" with leavers, which led Tom (not so committed to remain) to ask my why the EU was so important to me?
3/ This turned out to be a good question! Whatt is the psychology or remain?

I suddenly realised that I was always arguing about economics of Brexit but the truth is that I FEEL passionately European (it's just fortunate that the economics supports the remain side).
4/ Back to The Daily Express article, which cites historians, including Robert Tombs, as blaming Heath for taking us too quickly into the EEC, and says that Brexit is backlash against threatened English identity. In a sense, I think this is true.
5/ But what is this English identity that Tombs and others talk about? It seems to be largely one of victimsation. After all, if you think we need to make England great again, it implies that it's not great now, which must be someone's fault - the EU's.
6/ For my own part, I think there is some truth in the allegation that England is suffering from malaise, but I differ from leavers in thinking it's caused by our moribund democracy (FPTP and oligarchical two-party system), and our failure to invest in science and technology).
7/ On science and tech: we built the world's first commercial nuclear power station, computer and jet airliner - now we lack the capability to make any of these things (as CP Snow anticipated, government by Oxbridge humanities graduates has not served us well).
8/ Brexitiers correctly recognise the maliase but think that the solution is to tear ourselves out of Europe to stimulate "an independence of spirit" (Dyson) and a "buccaneering global Britain" (Johnson). This will inevitably fail because they've misdiagnosed the problem.
9/ Instead the assertion of English identity will have two negative consequences: it will stop us from addressing the real problem (moribund politics and poor investment) and bring about the end of the UK (English nationalism can only provoke Scots, Irish and Welsh nationalisms).
10/ Which brings me back to my reasons for being passionate European. Yes, economics is important but, strikingly, I found it hard to explain to my friend Thomas what being passionately European is really about. I've had to do a lot of thinking.
11/ The remain campaign in 2016 was dire. Why? Amongst the many reasons, it utterly failed to provide a constructive vision of what Europeanism and European identity entails. In the absence of this vision, the camapign said EU membership was "not all that bad" - hopeless!
12/ So, if there is ever to be any hope of reversing Brexit, saying "rejoin will be nice for the economy" won't be enough. We have to excite people by articulating a positive vision of British Europeanism. So here's a start with some thoughts oabout what I think it could be.
13/ First of all, Europeanism is about RESPECTING all the identities in Europe. It is about us all living in our common European home and enjoying our differences. In the global village of tomorrow, this is the only way that the human species will be able to survive and thrive.
14/ So nobody in Europe wants the French to be less French, the Germans to be less German or the English to be less English. Instead we should rejoice that it is possible to live in harmony as French, Germans and English PRECISELY BECAUSE WE ARE ALSO EUROPEANS.
15/ Second, Europeanism is about commitment to common social democratic values: a vibrant market economy supported by protections for the vulnerable (worker's rights, health care, safety standards, welfare for the unemployed and poor, etc.).
16/ Third, this commitment to a vibrant economy and social democracy includes the commitment to help the poorest regions of the world achieve these benefits - to 'leveling up' the least developed nations (in practice, EU does this in many different ways eg EBA scheme for LDNs).
17/ Fourth, Europeanism supports universal human rights. Because they are universal, it follows logically that these rights must transcend national law. Sovereignty that allows torture and killing in some places but not others is worthless.
18/ Fifth, Europeanism is about, as far as possible, fostering cooperation rather than competition between the nations of Europe. It is the recognition that international relations are a nonzero sum game - what is good for my neighbour is usually good for me.
19/ Finally (and following from the above), it is about the creation of joint programs (eg Erasmus, ERC, REACH, Galileo, EIB) to provide peace, prosperity and opportunities for our children. It seems to me that this last element of Europeanism is what the EU is for.
20/ So that's it - these six principles are the foundation of my European identity.

They are why, in my heart, I am and always will be a European.
21/ Because we remainers have not learned how to talk about our European identity, about the joy of Europeanism, we talk about the economy all the time (its easy to debate figures etc.) and change no hearts.

That's why we lost in 16 and why we will keep on losing until we change

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More from @RichardBentall

21 Feb
1/13 It is hard for a remain/rejoiner not to feel frustrated by @UKLabour right now. Starmer's silence on Brexit is deafening. theguardian.com/politics/2021/…
2/13 I wrote about what remain/rejoiner's attitudes towards @UKLabour should be a little while ago, urging patience and for party members to put their weight behind @Labour4EU.
3/13 I am continuing to hold my nerve right now, but I think @Keir_Starmer is in danger of making a bad mistake, losing the support of remain/rejoiners while failing to regain the trust of the red wall leavers (who were fewer in number than commonly supposed anyway).
Read 13 tweets
10 Jan

I am pretty annoyed about Starmer's statement about FoM on the Marr Show today, but I'm still not sure what the thinking behind it is. If it's just that this is not the time to talk about EU allignment, fair enough, but it could have been expressed in a more nuanced way.

Because, rest assured, there will have to be a reallignment with the EU. This will be necessitated not only by the economics but also, most likely, by unfolding events in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

I am not convinced that complete endorsement of the Tory's Brexit is required to win back the red wall seats; its not what a careful analysis of polling says and it's, frankly, treating red wall voters as idiots while pandering to their supposed idiocy (pretty patronising).
Read 19 tweets
25 Dec 20
1/20 This is a Christmas message to my wonderful pro-European friends, especially but not exclusively #FPBE. This is a difficult time for our movement, as it is at last confirmed that the UK will be leaving the EU customs union and single market in a few days time.
2/20 Maybe you are feeling demoralised. Maybe like me you acutely feel the pain of having your European citizenship and identity stolen from you in an act of naked vandalism. Maybe you feel that a hole has been torn in your heart that will never be repaired.
3/20 At this time, it would be easy to rant about the economic lunacy of cutting ourselves off from our nearest, biggest market, or about huge losses that we will suffer in excluding ourselves from EU projects like Erasmus, Galileo and REACH. But that can wait for another day.
Read 21 tweets
6 Dec 20
1/ This is a completely dishonest account of the events that led us to this point, but (I will give Barrister's Horse this) cleverly crafted. At each stage, the pathway is misrepresented to blame remainers for the catastrophe that is about to be inflicted on the UK by leavers.
2/ For example, in tweet 5 we are told that the Benn Bill was 'allegedly' drawn up by EU lawyers. Nice conspiracy theory. Which EU lawyers?

What is the argument against the content of the bill (none presented that I can see)?
3/ In tweet 6 the issues surrounding prorogation are completely misrepresented. It was a deliberatey antidemocratic attempt to suppress Parliamentary debate on the most important issue of the age and found illegal by the Supreme Court (but, hey, Barister's Horse knows better?).
Read 14 tweets
5 Dec 20
1/4 At this point in the Brexit process, when we remainers can only wait in horror, like passengers in a bus with defective breaks that is hurtling towards a cliff, it’s important to remember three simple but utterly fundamental truths.
2/4 Truth #1: The only possible way of maintaining our economy, our individual rights, peace in Ireland, our global reputation and the Union was to stay in the single market and customs union.
3/4 Truth #2: We could have stayed in the SM and CU while leaving the EU (and possibly had more control over fishing), although there would be some small (to my mind trivial in the scheme of things) sacrifices over sovereignty.
Read 5 tweets
11 Sep 20
So here is where we are now:

Johnson has told the world he intends to break international law and jeopardise the GFA while, at the same time, Herr Führage is literally trying to organize malitas to patrol our beaches while demanding that the WA must be completely repudiated. 1/
Meanwhile, EU Parliament says that it will veto UK FTA if Johnson does not back down, and the Americans are saying no trade deal with them if GFA is jeopardised. The twin effects will be economically and politically catastrophic. /2
Johnson is in zugzwang but I doubt whether he can face up to the humiliation of backing down or that many Tories will have the balls to stand up to him or Führage and his neofascist mobs. They will whine but ultimately comply. /3
Read 10 tweets

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