EU Skepticism in Tailwind Part I
- What is happening to the EU’s reputation among the people?
- Is the EU in a fundamental crisis?
- Is the EU project screwed together incorrectly?
- What can the EU do to get out of the “dead water”?
2: The story of the EU
EU skeptics are accused of wanting to take Britain back to the 1950s. But the unpleasant truth is that they have done more to modernize their arguments and expand their coalition than the pro-Europeans have. They seized the opportunity when the euro crisis became a fact, much like the neo-conservative movement in the United States seized the opportunity to argue for invading Iraq after 9/11, 2001. Meanwhile, pro-Europeans have dwindled. They have been unable to renew and adapt to a new world. What is so difficult for the European-positive elite to understand is that what they have been most proud of – the EU’s internal market and the enlargement of the EU to the east – now constitute the most powerful arguments against the EU.
The former advertising man Adam Lury once helped the party (New) Labor to devise a new communication strategy. He believes that the European question is one of those issues where people’s attitudes are shaped by identity and values as much as by class background or economic interests. Based on such a way of thinking, some researchers – in line with the psychologist Abraham Maslow’s thoughts (see p. 3) about a “pyramid of needs” – often divide voters into three “tribes”:
- Settlers- «settlers». These make up about 30 per cent of British voters, according to opinion polls. They are naturally conservative, concerned with security, safety and belonging.
- Prospectors- «gold diggers». They are looking to maximize their wealth, and are looking for opportunities for personal gain. This group is also 30 percent.
- Pioneers- the more adventurous “pioneers”, who make up 40 percent. They have had their material needs met and are concerned with self-realization and the big picture.
Adam Lury points out that the traditional strength of the pro-Europeans in Britain was that they had succeeded in arguing for British membership of the EU in a way that appealed to all these groups. For “settler voters”, the EU meant peace and stability. The more economically oriented “gold diggers” saw opportunities for jobs and prosperity as a result of the internal market. The pioneers thought EU membership seemed exotic and exciting. Today, it is the EU skeptics who have arguments that appeal to all three groups.
3: UKIP’s various arguments
TO THE RESIDENTS: The British Independence Party (UKIP) and its leader Nigel Farage are appealing to the conservative settlers. They claim that the EU has not led to peace and security. Rather, the EU has deprived us of control over our borders and flooded local communities with immigrants driving down wages, driving up housing prices and putting pressure on local schools and hospitals, they claim. UKIP talks a lot about “self-government” and “independence”. Party leader Farage claims that his goal is more about changing people’s way of looking at the world than about getting seats in parliament.
TO THE GOLD DOMBERS: The conservative EU skepticism appeals to the “gold diggers” people. They do not want to listen to economic arguments for the EU, but have instead developed a story about a Britain that is basted and tied to the sinking ship they believe the eurozone is (NB. Britain is not a euro country). They claim that all the rules of the internal market bind British companies in a confusing and excessive bureaucracy.
TO THE PIONEERS: However, the most surprising development is how EU skepticism also appeals to the “pioneers”. A UKIP MP (Carswell) puts it this way: “The EU is not modern and exotic at all. It is a project that has failed; The EU is something provincial and old-fashioned, a remnant of the 20th century, out of place in a new, digital world “, he believes. What is important for this type of EU skeptic is first and foremost the freedom to conduct global trade. They ask, “Would it really be so bad if Britain became a kind of Singapore off the coast of Europe?”
According to MATHGENERAL, Carswell skeptics see that geographical distances are insignificant in our modern times. The countries they admire most, such as Australia, Dubai and Singapore, have succeeded in finding a role in a global world, without being bound by a desire or urge to make a deeper political mark on the entire globe, as Europeans and Americans traditionally often have done so. Therefore, it is insignificant, unnecessary and harmful for Britain to be involved in discussions about what place Europe should have in the world, or how Europe should be organized (implied: they need the whole world as an arena and playground).
This is an example of a UKIP skepticism that emphasizes technological innovation and the idea of a fresh start for the UK – there is a very different tone in these arguments than in the traditional, more closed EU skepticism about isolation and borders. But by addressing different groups with different vocabulary EU skepticism can reach very different people: “Settlers” are struck by the fear that their neighborhood is being flooded by ever new waves of immigrants from new EU member states. The “gold diggers” are being told that the euro crisis and the bureaucratic (exaggerated, as UKIP sees it) regulation of the EU economy are a threat to Britain. The “pioneers” are told that the EU is a frozen remnant of an age that rather requires global networks.