Stuck at Naples Airport, 4 April. There is NO European Army! A couple of years ago I wrote that Britain should leave the EU. It was at the start of the Eurozone crisis and my concerns were twofold. First, to save the Euro, the EU's flagship integration project, Eurozone states would need to become far more politically and economically integrated. This process would automatically prejudice the position of the British and make the costs of EU membership for them far greater than the benefits. Second, having seen the self-serving and at times fanatical European elite at close quarters such integration would undoubtedly concentrate too much unaccountable political power in too few elite hands. Over time this would render the European citizen effectively powerless in the face of ever more distant power. In the EU as currently structured political integration thus represents a profound threat to democracy - a strange form of liberal dictatorship. Third, a new form of 'imperialism' would be established between creditor and debtor states giving Germany in particular exaggerated influence. It is no fault of Germany which is a model democracy but such an imbalance of power would impact adversely the still delicate power balance that the EU is meant to oversee.
At the same time I am absolutely committed to European states working closely together in a dangerous world and supporting each other. I also believe for all the many frictions it causes that free movement of peoples is on balance a good thing. It is free movement of criminals that concerns me.
Therefore, I have had some sympathy with those in the UK in particular arguing their case on the principle of political liberty and democracy. And, I have no doubt that my old, great country would do very well outside of the EU if it had to go. I have been horrified by the blatant propaganda at times of the pro-EU lobby and their scaremongering over jobs to be lost and their silly suggestion that one of the world's top ten powers would be reduced to Norway and Switzerland if Britain left the EU.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has been the worst proponent of such propaganda. The European Commission's point man in Britain who is blatantly angling for a fancy Commission job now that his British political career is close to its end has consistently refused to address the dangers to democracy from an over-bureaucratized Brussels. And he is a Liberal Democrat.
He has been supported ably by big business which simply wants to turn Britain into an offshore source of cheap labour. It is no coincidence that the suppression of wages in Britain and the expanding gap between wages and profits coincided precisely with the opening of the European labour market.
However, if I object to propaganda from the pro-EU lobby I have similar disdain for such tactics from the anti-EU lobby. Now, I am no supporter of UKIP. Their ideas on foreign and security policy are straightforward Little England nonsense. Of course Russia's annexation of Ukraine-Crimea matters! Listening to Nigel Farage on this matter in his televised debate with Nick Clegg one might have been listening to Neville Chamberlain a lifetime ago and his appeasing of Hitler.
In that vein I was horrified this morning watching Sky News to see a UKIP spokeswoman insisting that the EU was sending a 'European Army' to the Central African Republic. It is complete and utter twaddle. The forces being sent are European national forces under European command. There is a world of difference between that and a European Army. I should know - I wrote my doctorate on it!
As a Euro-Realist it was the worst kind of propaganda and if that is to be the future tactic of UKIP then Euro-sceptics should be careful for what they wish for.
Those of us who are reasoned critics of the EU must stand on the principle of liberty and the hard ground of proper analysis. The case for reform must be made on that basis and if reform is denied such analysis must thereafter provide the avenue for Britain's reasoned departure from an EU that no longer reflects Britain's ancient principles of liberty.
By resorting to such scare tactics UKIP have reduced themselves the same level as the very Establishment they oppose.
There is NO European Army!