The argument that the EU political elite take a patronising tone towards the electorate is an easy one to make. There has long been a tendency in Brussels to ignore or brush over the opinions of the little people, and to avoid too much democratic involvement in the EU project.
The reason for this is simple – even the most fervently pro-EU types are aware that gaining agreement between 12, 15, 25 or 27 governments of the various member states is well nigh impossible (witness the recent difficulties leading up to the watered-down new treaty). To gain a majority of votes from the electorate in every single member state would be categorically impossible. With no continent-wide party machine to mobilise the electorate and spread the message, local concerns will always get in the way in EU elections.
Part of the thinking is also – a mindset common in politics, though rarely able to be expressed in western democratic societies – that the electorate is fundamentally stupid and incapable of understanding the subtleties of policy debate.
When it comes to the EU, the big problem in shaking off this “the electorate is stupid” attitude is that when hunting around for anti-EU voices, the idiotic, over-excitable and outright rude ones are far easier to find. Witness the comments on Commissioner Margot Wallstrom‘s blog, the EU Referendum blog, or at the Guardian’s Comment is Free (on the rare occasions they discuss the EU).
For every sensible, knowledgeable and literate anti-EU type, like Daniel Hannan, Bill Jamieson and EU Referendum’s Richard North (when he’s not playing to the crowd), there appear to be a thousand stereotypically over-excited raving cliches.
By all means be passionate about your beliefs. If you genuinely think that the EU is sucking all that remains to be proud of out of this once-great nation, then anger’s probably moderately understandable.
But bear in mind that you may come across as a nutter – especially if you don’t actually bother to read the arguments of your opponents in full. This is only going to damage your cause.
What I am advocating is that you all take a bit of time to step back and take stock of the new situation – as here (though, contrary to popular belief, I am in favour of a referendum and a “no” vote, on the off-chance we can end up with something better eventually…) – and analyse the new text in detail – as here – to find more things to rationally and reasonably complain about.
In other news, everyone should read this rather handy explanation of why the new treaty, erm… isn’t actually a constitution, despite the similarities to the old constitution text, and the desperate, last-ditch efforts of the Eurosceptic press to whip up yet more of a frenzy amongst our well-meaning but over-excitable Eurosceptic friends.