Friday, 18 November 2011
Nigel Farage's attack on Germany's euro ambitions may be unfair but the UKIP leader knows which buttons to push
Britain has never been as united in its scepticism of closer integration with Europe; certainly since the launch of the eurozone perhaps the EU itself.
Recent events in Greece and Italy where governments have crumbled only to be replaced by German-approved technocrats has put back the cause of British europhiles by, at least, a generation.
No governing party let alone a coalition can now envisage closer ties with Brussels without being forced to make good the promise of a referendum. I would suggest that with the nation on alert to any loss of sovereignty even modest constitutional change may be difficult to push through.
So who speaks for Britain on Europe?
It should be the Tories. The general election saw a fresh intake of eurosceptics, while the europhiles in the party are a dwindling, aging band.
But prime minister David Cameron is inhibited by the degree to which he can offend his European opposite numbers and he has to keep coalition partners, the pro-European LibDems on board.
Labour party leader Ed Miliband seems incapable of scoring the open goals offered by the crisis. He’s given credit to Gordon Brown for keeping us out of the euro when Labour was in power but some of the old guard - Tony Blair and Lords Mandelson and Kinnock – still carry a torch for closer European links.
Step forward then Nigel Farage, the MEP leader of the UK Independence Party. Unless our voting system changes, he can’t expect to see a UKIP MP ever sitting in the House of Commons.
But the man knows what resonates back home when he leads the attack of the eurosceptics in the European Parliament.
His latest blast – this time the target of his scorn was the unhealthy increase in Germany’s political muscle - took a couple of days to cross the Channel. But the YouTube clip at the head of this post has now gone viral.
Farage over did the World War references but then he wouldn’t have got the same attention if he had pulled his punches.
He asks what right has Germany to dictate the terms of the bailouts. The right that comes with having the cash.
There are many Germans who favour a return to the deutschmark and rather than dominate Europe they would prefer to let the rest of the continent go hang.
But you can’t deny Farage’s attention-seeking ability to push all the right buttons.
I don't want to see our Westminster politicians take the same Brussels-bashing stance. But they have to grab back the debate. Their problem is that Farage on his day is a powerful orator, helped consderably by the fact he has a point.