We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Edward McMillan-Scott: Making the case for Britain as a strong force in Europe

February 27, 2016 5:13 PM
In Lib Dem Voice

Writing in the Yorkshire Post former Lib Dem MEP Edward McMillan-Scott compares the 2016 referendum to 1975.

"Today's media will play a decisive role in shaping the debate but is far more diverse both in attitudes and structure than in 1975. Then there were a handful of radio and TV channels whereas now there are hundreds; then only the Morning Star and the Spectator opposed Britain remaining in, but now the print media are much more evenly split. The role of social media has exploded in recent years and knows no constraint, political or personal.

"Today, largely thanks to the EU, low cost airlines carry Britons routinely to airports which have sprung up in every corner of the continent and its islands. There we have learned new cuisines and cultures.

"However, the most fundamental difference in Europe between 1975 and today is the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 and the subsequent enlargement of the EU to embrace its emerging democracies. Our generation has had the happy task of creating the world's largest Single Market within a democratic framework.

"The roles of Nato and the EU in the fall of the Berlin Wall are often discussed, but their close relationship was foreseen in their earliest years. Today, they are stronger not just because they are both located in Brussels, but also because there is a plethora of working arrangements between them, such as a shared 24-hour situation room."

He also says that as well as a positive, hopeful message, Remain campaigners should not shy from pointing out the negatives of leaving:

"There is no doubt that the fear factor contributed to Cameron's winning the general election through the portrayal of Ed Miliband, untrusted on the economy, in the pockets of Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond. Fear on the economy and use of the pound were also major factors in the Scottish referendum.

"While fear is a legitimate political strategy, there is much "hope" to be positive about. A young Labour activist who was campaigning for Remain over the weekend told me that many older voters, while mentioning immigration levels as an issue, said that their children or grandchildren's future weighed more with them."

The whole article can be read at the Yorkshire Post.