Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Europe is not a foreign country

Time for a posting on something other than the Lib Dem leadership election. I read a comment piece in one of our local papers today (I would provide a link, but the website concerned has failed to put the piece on the web as yet) about how close we are to having a common European identity and what that means for existing national identities. The author, Jim Miller, believes such a European identity is not too far away and that people may have to get used to expressing their identities on many levels.

As a liberal, this is an argument I feel comfortable with. I do not see any contradiction between people being Scottish and British, or British and European. Indeed, as someone with a Welsh father and Irish mother, who was born and brought up in England and now living and working in Scotland, I regard any attempt to force a narrow definition of national identity upon people as absurd.

Indeed, this is one of the reasons I don't believe in Scottish nationalism. The idea that the only identity which matters is Scottishness is dangerous, like all exclusive definitions of nationality. Not only that, but it ignores the fact that other values can be just as important, if not more so.

I believe we should embrace the idea that national identity should be something which operates on many different levels - and I think that includes a European identity, which is why in any referendum on the European reform treaty I would vote yes, as I want to see an effective European Union. Indeed, the idea in our interdependent world that national sovereignty is the solution to Scotland's problems is utterly wrong.

Where I would disagree with Jim Miller's argument referred to earlier is that I think that European identity already exists. There are values of freedom, tolerance, democracy and innovation which I think are common European values, although I would also accept that these are also shared by other democratic countries around the world. Like an awful lot of people, I feel comfortable travelling in much of Europe, and don't really consider it as 'abroad'. It is certainly not the foreign country depicted in the more xenophobic rantings of some of the right-wing press. Being European is part of my identity.

1 comment:

Jeremy Hargreaves said...

I completely agree!

There is an identifiable European identity, and largely we Brits share it. http://www.hje

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