Eluned Morgan on why isolationism in the world is the wrong way forward
Last week’s Queen’s Speech was notable not just because there was so little in it. It was also notable because of the fact that the whole current political debate in the UK is being conducted under the spectre of two significant matters that could change fundamentally and forever the shape and size of our country and the manner in which it is governed.
If the SNP had its way, this would have been the final Queens Speech prior to the beginning of the end of Britain as we know it. While for UKIP and many elements within the Tory Party, this could be the final parliamentary session prior to a referendum on UK membership of the EU. Complete with the potential devastating impact that withdrawal would have on our country.
The World Cup will kick off in Brazil tomorrow (something I’m evening more excited about, having now picked the hosts in the office sweepstake). But unlike in decades past, we will be able to watch the games in real time or repeated later on any number of flat screens, tablets, or mobile phones. An army of England supporters have arrived in Brazil – as flight prices are not what they used to be. And we can Skype for free those lucky enough to be in Brazil using technology which spans the globe. The world is changing, becoming smaller and more integrated. The UK cannot isolate itself as a little island.
The cry of national sovereignty, whether in Scotland or the EU, is not about simply being able to say yes or no. It is no longer absolute. Often, sovereignty must be pooled for national advantage. Isolation would make us masters, yes – but in a shrinking sphere of influence. Only through the EU can we make our voice heard in the wider world, through joining with those of 500 million others to gain a megaphone above the whisper that the UK would have in speaking to the 1.3bn Chinese or 1.2bn Indians. Our response to turbulent or troubling situations in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan is enhanced if we speak in a united chorus and act in unison with our allies and neighbours.
We do need however to acknowledge that we have to bring the public with us. Last month’s election results have demonstrated once more that there is an urgent need for more rapid reform of the EU. Indeed, such reform must take into account the will of the peoples of Europe, and an understanding that the working classes in particular feel aggrieved and disenfranchised. We are still waiting to hear from the Tories what they want reform to look like.
The Coalition is running out of steam. The sooner we can have a Labour government, the sooner we will have a government that understands the modern world. A world that is integrated, where isolation is not a sensible option. A Labour government that understands the real concerns of the public and the challenges of the ongoing cost of living crisis.
Baroness Eluned Morgan is a Shadow Wales Minister and a member of the Shadow FCO team in the House of Lords. She tweets @eluned_morgan
Published 11th June 2014