Schiphol Airport. Netherlands, 20 November. The traffic here in the Netherlands is always a problem which is why I have to leave at sparrow's fart to get here to Schiphol Airport. I am on my way to London to engage with NATO admirals and talk strategy. The good news is that yesterday I finally finished my long-awaited book (at least it is long-awaited by me and my long-suffering wife). Little Britain considers British and European strategy in a changing world. You will soon be able to download it for a very reasonable price. Stop pushing at the back there!
Sitting here reading various reports I suddenly felt the chill-wind of politics on the back of my ageing neck. What got me going is a new report by an old French colleague Francois Heisbourg which nearly made me fall of my chair. He is now advocating what I have been banging on about for two years - the European elite project/experiment has got too far ahead of the will of the European people - at least those who have to pay for it - and must be re-considered. Specifically, Francois is calling for the careful dismantling of the Euro so that the EU can be re-established on firmer political ground. Amen to that!
However, the growing body of leaders, people and 'experts' who are now calling for a re-think and an end to the 'any Europe at any cost' nonsense also creates a dilemma. As political parties across Europe begin their campaign's for next May's European parliamentary elections in the hope that Europe's citizens might this time notice the politics of Europe has become utterly polarised. The fanatics are by and large those in receipt of other people's money and the sceptics are by and large those who have to pay. Who do I vote for?
At the Euro-fanatic end of the spectrum there is the likes of Britain's Nick Clegg - former denizen of the College of Europe and former Eurocrat - who now says it is "unpatriotic" for any British citizen (me) to even consider Britain's place in the EU. This is in spite of the self-evident fact that the EU has become an anti-competitive, over-regulated, increasingly intolerant mutual impoverishment pact. At the extreme Euro-sceptic end of the spectrum there are the likes of Geert Wilders in the Netherlands and Martine Le Pen in France who see the EU as a "monster" that needs to be put back in a box. Whilst I have some sympathy with that thought I have no sympathy whatsoever with many of their other views on race etc.
Here's the problem. I believe in the idea of a mechanism that enables European nation-states to work together effectively in a hyper-competitive world for the good of all Europeans. However, I utterly reject the European super-state nonsense that oozes from every cracked joint of Brussels mortice. I believe in the free movement of European poeples but I utterly reject the blind mass-immigration of cheap labour it has generated which has so disfigured European labour markets. Borders must be controlled. I am also a social progressive who believes society must evolve and change and that opportunity should be afforded to all irrespective of class, race, gender, orientation etc. However, I also believe in national identity and patriotism as the fuindamental creeds for vital socal cohesion. I am also a firm believer in a European defence that is compatible with the transatlantic relationship and an EU that is compatible with NATO.
And yet none of the mainstream political parties offer that. One either has to be a Euro-fanatic in which case any criticism is a form of heresy and one is subjected to the latter day equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition. It is not without irony that yesterday Monty Python announced they are re-forming = "bring on the comfy chair" (you have to be old to understand that joke).Or, one has to be a 'get out at all costs' Euro-sceptic of the UKIP variety, which by the way is now a mainstream political party as far as most people are concerned even if the elite try to paint them as extremists.
What is needed is a centrist, gronded political party across Europe that is really committed to real EU reform. This is not the pretend reform British PR-Meister David Cameron is talking about just to get himself out of a self-dug political hole. This the kind of reform that will see structural changes in the cost of the EU and its governance and which will mean the end to constant bale-outs and the addiction of some members to European Regional Development Funding.
That is why I created Euro-Realism to challenge the thinking of extremes. In particular the stupid orthodoxy that if Europe does not constantly deepen (elite euro-speak for more power for them) it will collapse and Europe will trigger the Third World War or that by constantly transferring money east and south without reform Europeans will somehow become prosperous. It is utter and dangerous nonsense that in and of itself will doom Europe to failure over time.
My suspicions are that there are millions out there like me who like me believe in their nation-state, are not against co-operation but who utterly reject the doctrinaire and dogmatic nonsense of the Brussels elite and their fellow travellers.
Perhaps I should start my own political party. Any followers?