As a lover of European literature I have developed a sense of being “European”, sharing in the culture of Thomas Mann, Honoré de Balzac, Marcel Proust, Robert Walser, Gunther Grass, Magda Szabo and many others. My wife and I love visiting Europe and every year we drive through France, Germany and other countries, appreciating the differences in culture that we find and enjoying the sense of being part of this great continent.
It is not for a book blogger to offer too much in the way of political commentary, but I am very upset that it now looks as though the British government has been most influenced by a cohort of 80 to 90 Members of Parliament who have such a hatred of European federalism that they are prepared to make our nation an outsider in Europe, excluded from important decision-making processes and isolated from those who should be our natural partners and allies.
I was so upset yesterday morning to hear the news of our new position outside the European mainstream that I wrote two letters – one to David Cameron and another to Nick Clegg one of which I publish below. I know its utterly pointless to write to such senior figures but perhaps at least my letters will be included in any count of those who are not in agreement with current policies.
Dear Mr Cameron
I am appalled and embarrassed by the stance you took in Brussels over the last 24 hours.
It is vital to our prosperity and national well-being that we be at the heart of Europe, influencing its key decisions and co-operating with our neighbours – our natural allies in an increasingly hostile world. The decision to stay out of the new group is shaming to our national interest and can only lead to serious problems down the road.
I hope you will do your utmost to rectify this worrying situation you have created and that in the future you will revert to a more measured approach of diplomacy and bridge-building. I sincerely believe that there is no future for us as a go-it-alone nation waiting in the wings for any crumbs we are cast by the new grouping of European nations.
If any Europeans read this blog post, I can say that there are many people in Britain who share my views. While on holiday earlier in the year I had a conversation with a very elderly man who had fought in the Second World War and it was nice to hear him say that he couldn’t see why anyone who had fought in the war would not want to fully support the European movement and other co-operative structures which go such a long way to ensuring that conflict between nations is resolved by talking rather than fighting.
On a lighter note, I suggest that there is no point in the United Kingdom putting forward a candidate in next years’s Eurovision Song Contest because nobody will vote for us (not that many do anyway!).
All paintings (c)Tom Cunliffe 2011