Council of Europe: Appeal for Turkish Publisher

Below you can read a statement of support I organised at the Council of Europe for the Turkish Publisher, Ragip Zarakolu. It was signed by British and other European MPs from across the political party spectrum
27 June 2008

The Council of Europe has condemned the prison sentence imposed on the leading Turkish publisher, Ragip Zarakolu, who was condemned by Turkish court earlier this month under Turkey’s notorious Article 301 of its penal code which is used to intimidate writers, journalists and publishers.
Leading delegates at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe from a number of countries and all the main political groups have supported a motion in support of Zarakolu and called on the Council of Europe to send a fact-finding mission to Turkey on the continuing use of Article 301 to attack freedom of expression in Turkey.
"Turkey is going through a serious political crisis but it is made worse by the failure of both the government with its majority in the Turkish Parliament as well as the secular opposition to remove Article 301 from the penal code," said Dr Denis MacShane, the former Europe Minister in Britain who is a UK delegate to the Council of Europe.
"It is particularly worrying that a party affiliated to the Socialist International will not seek the complete and other abolition of Article 301 and let Turkey’s writers like the Nobel laureate, Orhan Pamuk, or the distinguished publisher, Ragip Zarakolu, write and publish freely in line with European norms.
"As a strong supporter of Turkey’s European ambitions it is a continual disappointment that there is no clear action based on agreement across the political divide to remove Article 301. Both the AKP in power and the secular democratic opposition do their nation great harm by not showing that Turkey’s writers, journalists and publishers can enjoy the same rights as their colleagues in all EU member states and other democracies around the world.

Europe's crisis

Europe’s Crisis is More Serious than EU Leaders Admit

21 June 2008

The following article was published in the Japanese edition of Newsweek.
European leaders remain in a state of denial over the gravity of the existential crisis now facing the European Union. The Irish No to the Lisbon Treaty and the failure of the summit meeting of 27 heads of government in Brussels to find a way forward means the European Union is now facing a turning point which will have a profound impact on 21st century global politics. The issue at stake is simple. Can Europe continue to unite its different nations into one single force in world affairs or will the European Union become a jungle of competing nation states unable to rival the rising nationalist powers of Asia? Can Europe be a partner for the weakened United States or is the Euroatlantic hegemony in place since 1945 now over?
Old powers like Russia and new powers like China and India are all watching to see whether the future of geo-politics is now to be based on the nation state and whether the unique experiment of sharing power and sovereignty of the big and small nation states of Europe is now coming to a close.
The European Union, of course, can continue its present existence for years and decades to come. But as President Sarkozy of France rightly said, a failure of the Lisbon Treaty means the end of enlargement. Hopes that the western Balkan states like Croatia, Serbia and Kosovo, as well as Turkey, possibly Ukraine and even Israel could join the European Union are all suspended because 860,000 Irish citizens out of a total EU population of nearly half a billion voted down a new Treaty which set out the architecture for the next stage of Europe’s destiny.
Instead, the very real fear is that the nations of Europe will reassert their separate identity to the point that the European Union declines into weakness leaving history again to belong to big, determined, confident nation states like China and Russia which show little interest in democracy, rule of law, freedom of expression or human rights.
The hopes of creating imitation European Unions in south-east Asia, in Latin America and in Africa as the small quarrelling nations of these regions reduce trade barriers and find common rules to work and grow together will fade away as the parent model of the European Union is seen as weak, poorly led and unable even to agree the new set of rules contained in the Lisbon Treaty.
Of course, when the Irish – one of the many small European nations to emerge from years of colonial and imperial rule after World War 1 – voted they were not worried about the bigger geo-political picture. Their worry was rather that their proud national identity would be further eroded by an increase in power for the European Union institutions. The difficult balancing act between two competing sets of identity – the nation and Europe – tumbled to the ground as the Irish said No to more Europe and refused to say Yes to the lucklustre campaign of their political elites in favour of the Treaty.
And therein lies the dilemma for Europe. Reason lies with the EU. Emotion belongs to the nation. The head says Europe, the heart says England, or France, or Germany, or Poland. The poet of imperial Britain, Rudyard Kipling, wrote of “One law. One land. One Throne!” and the European Union has never commanded the passion that the nations of Europe, big and small, old and new, rich and poor, generate amongst their citizens.
But the EU does not exist independently of its leaders and on too many issues, the leaders of Europe refuse to speak as one. President Sarkozy, for example, attacked the European Commission at the Brussels summit because its trade negotiator, Peter Mandelson, is trying to reduce agricultural protectionism in order to get movement in the Doha round of world trade talks. Sarkozy’s outburst and violent verbal abuse of Mandelson drives a dagger into the heart of Europe as the one area where the European Union speaks for all 27 member states is trade.
European soldiers are active in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Balkans, Lebanon and Africa. Yet there is no agreement on how to create a united European military profile or strategy and no agreement to build common European warplanes, naval ships or tanks. Europe’s national leaders take different approaches to Iran, to the Middle East conflict, and relations with the United States. Europe under its existing rules and treaties could today decide a common policy on energy but Germany vetoes any discussion of nuclear energy because of German’s emotional obsession with the perceived dangers of nuclear power.
Most European nations have joined with the United States and Japan in recognising the right of the people of Kosovo to form their own nation-states. But key European nations like Romania, Greece and Spain refuse to do so and Spain is leading a diplomatic campaign in Spanish-speaking Latin America to stop further recognition for Kosovo. So Europe’s ambition to speak with one voice on bringing stability and peace to the Western Balkans is blocked by its own member states.
So to blame the Irish voters for stopping Europe’s march to integration and unity is wrong. It is the failure of today’s leaders of Europe to rise above national interests and national political egoisms under the existing law and institutions of the European Union that is equally responsible.
Both Senator Obama and Senator McCain have made clear that if elected as the next president of the United States they will try and repair the damage done to EU-US relations by the Bush administration. But at least the people of America will be able to choose their 44th president. The Lisbon Treaty proposed to create a President of Europe to speak for all 27 nation states on key global issues. Unless the Treaty can be brought back to life – and it is far clear that the Irish will vote a second time and say Yes – then the next US President will face a Europe lacking in coherence and unity.
The leaders of Europe are seeking to present the Irish vote as a headache which the right kind of Euroaspirin will cure. But supposing the Irish No was a symptom of deeper malady – a fundamental desire to turn the clock back to the Europe of competing, separate nations? If so, the hopes of a European Union growing in unity and strength to become a leader rather than follower of 21st century world history will disappear into the glasses of Irish Guiness beer the No campaign raised when the Lisbon Treaty was derailed on the western edge of the European Union.

Comments on the left in Europe in response to Pierre Moscovici's book about French President Sarkozy (in French)

Lettre ouverte à Pierre Moscovici
June 2008

Merci beaucoup pour l’exemplaire dédicacé de ton dernier livre sur le Président Sarkozy, Le liquidateur. Je l’ai lu d’une traite. Je possède déjà une modeste collection de tes œuvres mais celle-là est de loin la meilleure. Sur un ton incisif, phrase après phrase, tu dévoiles le personnage et frappes juste. Tant de livres politiques donnent l’impression d’avoir été rédigés à la truelle. Ton style est celui d’un chirurgien muni de son scalpel.
Avec les livres d’hommes et de femmes politiques français ou sur la politique française, je pourrais ouvrir une petite librairie. En Angleterre comme aux Etats-Unis, les politiques se contentent le plus souvent d’une tribune ou de quelques mots de dénigrement sur leurs opposants chuchotés à l’oreille de journalistes bienveillants. Nous sommes dans la onzième année consécutive de gouvernement travailliste mais il n’est toujours paru aucun livre digne d’intérêt sur l’ère Tony Blair. Quelqu’un de ses ministres et conseillers ont écrit leurs mémoires. Mais ce sont de ternes chroniques qui ne visent qu’à régler des comptes et donnent à leurs auteurs, sur la pente glissante vers les oubliettes de l’Histoire, l’illusion d’en être encore partie prenante.
Si le Labour veut rester au pouvoir, il a besoin d’une nouvelle vision, d’une nouvelle histoire à raconter. La gauche, française comme britannique, n’est pas douée pour garder le pouvoir. Les quatorze ans de Mitterrand à l’Elysée ne doivent pas masquer le fait que, depuis 1981, les Français n’ont jamais donné à la gauche le contrôle du Parlement durant plus d’un mandat. La gauche publie peut-être les meilleurs livres mais c’est la droite qui contrôle le destin des nations européennes.
Aujourd’hui, la droite domine partout en Europe. Seuls trois des 27 Etats-membres de l’Union européenne sont contrôlés par la gauche : l’Espagne, le Portugal et la Grande-Bretagne. En Autriche et aux Pays-Bas, la gauche participe à des gouvernements de coalition. Mais la France, l’Italie et l’Allemagne ont des gouvernements de droite. De la Pologne à l’Irlande, de la Suède à la Grèce, la droite est au pouvoir.
Bien sûr, la gauche peut gagner des sièges aux élections municipales et régionales ; elle pourrait même remporter les élections européennes en 2009. Mais il s’agit à de votes de protestation. Trop d’électeurs qui attendraient de la gauche qu’elle réponde à leurs attentes se laissent tenter par le nationalisme populiste ou le protectionnisme démagogique de Die Linke en Allemagne, de la Ligue du Nord en Italie, du Front national ou des militants d’ATTAC en France ou des séparatistes écossais ou flamands. L’islamophobie affichée ou, plus sournoisement, présentée comme une politique de l’identité et de l’immigration, se révèle monnaie payante pour la droite.
La gauche démocratique qui cherche le soutien nécessaire parmi les électeurs pour former un gouvernement doit savoir conquérir le pouvoir en France, en Italie, en Scandinavie et le garder en Espagne et en Angleterre. Ton livre met en évidence les failles du système sarkozyste. Tu te souviens certainement d’un pamphlet de la même eau, intitulé Le coup d’Etat permanent et dans lequel François Mitterrand dénonçait le système gaulliste en 1962. Vingt-cinq ans plus tard, il était devenu plus gaullien que le général mais j’espère qu’il ne faudra pas autant de temps à la gauche pour regagner l’Elysée.
Comme tu le dis à raison : « la gauche n’a pas su, depuis le tournant des années 2000, porter suffisamment une espérance, une crédibilité. Elle conserve des fidélités, elle ne suscite plus d’élan ». Malheureusement, ce constat, qui s’applique à beaucoup de nos camarades du parti socialiste européen et au parti travailliste anglais actuel, n’apparaît que page 282 de ton livre, dans les toutes dernières lignes. Dans ton prochain livre, place le en première page car ce n’est qu’en trouvant comment la gauche peut redevenir crédible que nous pourrons connaître un renouveau semblable à celui que vivent les démocrates aux Etats-Unis.
Tu es l’un des rares socialistes français à bien connaître l’étranger. Ton expérience comme ministre des affaires européennes et ta connaissance de l’Angleterre et des Etats-Unis sont une grande force. Le jour où j’ai demandé à Gerhard Schröder, avant qu’il devienne chancelier, ce qu’il savait de la politique et des hommes politiques des autres nations européennes, il m’avait répondu: « Oh, je laisse tout cela à Oskar (Lafontaine) et à la gauche toscane ». Bien sûr, la politique est avant tout une affaire nationale, et même locale. Mais l’homme politique qui ne connaît que son pays est forcément limité. Surtout dans l’Europe d’aujourd’hui où s’inspirer des réussites d’autres pays devrait être une priorité.
M. Sarkozy a sans nul doute tiré des leçons de l’expérience de Tony Blair ; comme tu le dis très bien, il a cherché à reproduire la magie blairiste. M. Blair est francophone et francophile. Mais le mépris que la gauche française lui a manifesté, ainsi qu’à ses idées réformistes, au moment où nos deux partis accédaient simultanément au pouvoir en 1997, a fait d’énormes dégâts. Les hommes aiment être aimés. La haine – je ne crois pas que le mot soit trop fort – que les socialistes français ont réservée au Labour ces dernières années, est responsable d’un gâchis sans nom.
L’année dernière s’est tenu le premier congrès du Labour depuis vingt ans sans la présence de Tony Blair. Les délégations de partis socialistes européens étaient plus nombreuses que jamais. Il n’y avait qu’un absent. Pas un seul socialiste français n’a daigné prendre l’Eurostar pour participer. En avril, le président brésilien Lula, Michelle Bachelet, présidente du Chili et le nouveau premier ministre australien, ainsi que les deux dirigeantes des partis socialistes suédois et danois sont venus à Londres débattre avec Gordon Brown du renouveau de la gauche. Une fois de plus, pas un socialiste français n’a fait le déplacement.
Faut-il s’étonner que le résultat d’un tel comportement soit que Tony Blair préfère discuter avec Nicolas Sarkozy, qui, pour sa part, s’est intéressé aux réussites britanniques ? Bien sûr, nous avons aussi commis des erreurs. Mais puisque tu écris page 123 que « l’industrie a quasiment disparu » en Grande-Bretagne, sauras-tu m’expliquer pourquoi l’Atlaséco 2008 du Nouvel observateur montre que la part de l’industrie dans le PIB français n’est que de 20,92% en France tandis qu’il est de 26,19% chez nous ?
Ce petit jeu du « Mon pays est plus fort que le tien » n’est pas digne d’une discussion d’adultes. Et ton livre a du moins le mérite de décrire certains succès des années Blair. Tu mets en doute ses convictions européennes mais faut-il te rappeler que ce sont tes amis Arnaud Montebourg, Laurent Fabius et Henri Emmanuelli qui ont jeté à bas la constitution européenne avec leur campagne pour le Non ? La maladie politique transmisible des Noniste socialistes en France est arrive en Irlande avec les consequences qu’on connaît.
Tu écris: « L’antiaméricanisme français – qui touche parfois certains de mes amis socialistes » : seulement « certains » et seulement « parfois » ? Si Obama est élu à la Maison Blanche, comme toi et moi l’espérons, ne va pas t’imaginer que les Etats-Unis s’aligneront sur les espoirs angéliques de la gauche européenne. Nous vivons dans un monde brutal, dans lequel les ennemis de la démocratie et de la liberté se renforcent chaque jour davantage tandis que nous nous querellons sans fin et nous obstinons à nier la nécessité d’un pacte euro-atlantique pour le progrès. Même le Président Chavez a fini par reconnaître que les FARC colombiennes ne sont qu’une bande de narco-trafiquants, assassins et kidnappeurs, ce que les présidents Bush et Uribe répètent depuis des années pendant que la gauche européenne trouve toujours des mots plus durs envers le gouvernement colombien qu’envers les FARC.
J’espère que ton livre sera traduit en anglais et dans d’autres langues européennes. Trop peu de socialistes comprennent comme toi la politique d’autres pays. Le socialisme européen reste monolingue et monoculturel. Chaque parti socialiste demeure prisonnier de sa culture et de ses traditions nationales. Les socialistes français ont des décisions difficiles à prendre cette année s’ils veulent gagner en 2012. Les socialistes britanniques ont aussi des décisions difficiles à prendre si nous voulons garder le pouvoir en 2010. Pourquoi ne pas nous entraider ?
Ton ami.

Denis MacShane
The Crisis of the Democratic Left in Europe
June 2008
The democratic left in Europe faces its gravest crisis in more than half a century. With the return of Silvio Berlusconi to power in Italy there now are only three of the twenty-seven EU member states – Britain, Spain and Portugal - which are controlled exclusively by one of the member parties of the Party of European Socialists. In other countries like Germany, Austria and the Netherlands democratic left parties are in coalition. London and Paris are controlled by populist xenophobic Mayors.
Across Europe democratic left parties face turmoil as they seek a renewal of ideology, values, membership and leadership. Labour’s difficulties in Britain need no underlining. In France, while the socialists pick up the anti-Sarkozy protest vote in regional and municipal elections there is no settled programme or leadership capable of replacing the right in the fight to control of the presidency and Parliament. In Germany, the SPD are shrinking back to winning at best a third of votes in key elections. The arrival of a left populist nationalist party in the shape of Die Linke which is an amalgam of left-over East German communists and the angry left always opposed to social democracy’s historic compromises whether under a Willy Brandt, a Helmut Schmidt or a Gerhard Schroeder has given Europe’s key nation a giant left protest party. As with the French Communist Party between 1950 and 1981, Die Linke may block the chances for some time of German social democracy winning outright control of the federal government.
The Italian effort to create a Democratic Party – the use of the American name was deliberate – out of the reformed communists and liberals and democratic socialists – was a political success but an electoral disaster. Does the left move to the left, a reversion to the language and demands of Labour in the 1980s such as Compass argues for, or can the left camp in the centre with outreach to a broader coalition of support?
For Britain, the crisis of the European left is almost precisely reflected in the difficulties that the post-Blair Labour Party faces. In examining what is not working and what has gone wrong in Europe it will be possible to reveal some of what needs to be done in Britain. Achieving renewal and infusing party members and winning electoral support is infinitely more difficult when in government. Many centre-left parties can win a second election and even a third mandate. But to extend hegemonic electoral control for more than ten or perhaps a dozen years means a party completely re-inventing itself while its key leaders are trapped in the difficulties of government administration and have no time to think.
New thinking is urgently needed. The parties of the right in power in Europe have shown and are showing themselves spectacularly incapable of managing the present crisis of world capitalism or addressing in a coherent and sensitive way the new demands from today’s citizens. The management of the French economy and society which has been in the hands of a rightist president since 1995 and a right-wing government since 2002 has never been worse. Silvio Berlusconi and Angela Merkel are managers of their nations not leaders of change. The democratic left still has a better record as we can see in today’s Spain or Britain. But it is no use the democratic left proclaiming its intellectual or governance superiority if it fails to win the vote to put modern progressive reformism into practice.
So what is going on and why is the left in such dire straights? Albert Camus noted that "for the Greeks, values were pre-existent to every action, and marked out its exact limits. Modern philosophy places its values at the end of actions." Exchange the word politics for philosophy and Camus’ indictment sums up the dilemma of the modern left.
What has been extraordinary about the left in Europe so far this century is its almost complete indifference to the material base of society. One does not have to have had early lessons in Marxism to consider the prospects of employment and income for the mass of the population to be at the heart of any intelligent left political project. Yet in country after country in Europe (and here Britain is an important exception) there has been a complacent refusal to embrace any of the necessary economic reforms to put people back into work. France twenty-five years ago had a GDP that was fifteen per cent bigger than that of the United Kingdom’s and much more stable employment. France today has a GDP ten per cent smaller than that of the UK and continues to be ravaged by mass unemployment, especially amongst the five million French Muslim citizens of North African descent.
There is no longer an obvious answer from across the Channel but the problems Labour faces are mirrored right across the democratic left in Europe. If no answers are found and found quickly, the 21st century will see the mass socialist, social democratic and labour parties of the 20th century face real problems not just of renewal but of survival.

The crisis of social democracy in Europe (in German)

This discussion of the future of the European left was published by the German journal, Freitag
Die Krise der Sozial demokratie
6 June 2008

DOKUMENT DER WOCHEVor zehn Jahren wurden noch zwölf von fünfzehn EU-Staaten von Kabinetten der "linken Mitte" regiert. Seit dem Wechsel der Macht an die Rechte in Italien in diesem Frühjahr stellen sozialdemokratische Parteien in Europa nur noch in drei der inzwischen 27 Mitgliedsländer die Alleinregierung; in drei weiteren sind sie an Koalitionen beteiligt. Was ist los mit der Sozialdemokratie? Der Labour-Politiker Denis MacShane gibt zehn Antworten.
Ohne Frage durchleben die demokratischen Linken in Europa gerade ihre schwerste Krise der letzten 50 Jahre. Nach der Rückkehr Silvio Berlusconis an die Macht in Italien stellen Mitgliedsparteien der Sozialdemokratischen Partei Europas (SPE) nur noch in drei der 27 Mitgliedsstaaten die Alleinregierung: in Großbritannien, in Spanien und in Portugal. In Deutschland, Österreich und den Niederlanden regieren demokratische Mitte-Links-Parteien in einer Koalition. Vor zehn Jahren noch bot sich ein vollkommen anderes Bild. Zwölf von damals fünfzehn EU-Mitgliedsstaaten wurden von der linken Mitte regiert, darunter Deutschland, Frankreich, Großbritannien, Portugal, Italien, die skandinavischen Länder und die Niederlande, ebenso wie die osteuropäischen Länder. Linker Wertekanon fehlt Was also ist los? Woher kommt die derzeitige Misere der Linken? Zehn Gründe können hierfür ausgemacht werden. Erstens: Den Linken fehlt es an den richtigen Konzepten, um in diesem 21. Jahrhundert einen verständlichen und vernünftigen Wertekanon zusammenzustellen, den die Wähler mit einer demokratischen, linken Partei in Verbindung bringen können. Albert Camus schrieb einst: "Die Werte waren für die Griechen jedem Handeln vorgegeben und gaben ihm genau die Grenzen an. Die moderne Philosophie stellt ihre Werte an das Ende der Handlung." Ersetzt man "Philosophie" durch "Politik", bringt Camus´ Anklage das Dilemma der modernen Linken auf den Punkt. Der New Labour-Ausspruch "Alles was funktioniert, ist gut", leitet sich vom Dichter und Philosophen Alexander Pope ab, der sagte: "Was immer ist, das ist wahr." Das wiederum war über Jahrhunderte der Leitsatz der britischen Konservativen. Tatsache ist, dass die demokratische Linke Werte braucht, die in einem sinnvollen Zusammenhang stehen. Zweitens hat die demokratische Linke die Kultur aufgegeben. Die Liebe und Begeisterung für Kultur einschließlich der Hochkultur der schwierigsten und anspruchsvollsten Art unterscheidet einen Politiker der großen Ideen vom durchschnittlichen, politischen Handwerker, der weiß, wie man die Räder der Regierung am Laufen hält. Die heutige europäische Linke macht den Eindruck, als hätte sie ganz wenig bis gar kein Geschichtsbewusstsein. Die Labour Party zum Beispiel nahm zwar einige Akademiker in ihre gehobenen Kreise auf, allerdings handelte es sich dabei vornehmlich um Soziologen oder Politikwissenschaftler. Den großen britischen Historikern, von denen einige bei dem Versuch, Politik erfolgreich zu gestalten, mehr Respekt und größeres Gehör verdient hätten, hat Labour indes den Rücken gekehrt. Arbeit und Einkommen im Zentrum Drittens ist es außergewöhnlich, wie sehr die Linke in Europa in diesem Jahrhundert bisher die materielle Grundlage der Gesellschaft nahezu völlig außer Acht gelassen hat. Man muss nicht schon in seiner frühen Jugend Unterricht in Marxismus gehabt haben, um zu verstehen, dass die Chance auf Arbeit und Einkommen für die Mehrheit der Bevölkerung der Kern jedes intelligenten linken Politikprojekts sein muss. In einem Staat nach dem anderen hat man es selbstgefällig abgelehnt, sich auch nur irgendeine notwendige Arbeitsmarktreform zu eigen zu machen, um den Menschen wieder Arbeit zu beschaffen. Das BIP Frankreichs lag vor 25 Jahren 15 Prozent über dem Großbritanniens - bei einem stabileren Arbeitsmarkt. Heute liegt Frankreichs BIP zehn Prozent unter dem von Großbritannien, und das Land leidet an Massenarbeitslosigkeit, vor allem unter den fünf Millionen muslimischen Franzosen nordafrikanischer Abstammung. Gerhard Schröder übernahm 1998 die Regierungsgeschäfte mit vier Millionen Arbeitslosen, und als er 2005 aus dem Amt schied, betrug die Zahl der Arbeitslosen immer noch vier Millionen. Der Druck jedoch, Arbeitsmarktreformen auszuweichen, ist enorm hoch. Dieser Umstand ist dem vierten großen Dilemma der europäischen Linken zu verdanken: dem langsamen Niedergang der Gewerkschaften als große Mitgliederorganisationen. In ganz Europa hat der langfristige Trend des Mitgliederschwunds bei den Gewerkschaften mittlerweile solche Ausmaße angenommen, dass es für jede demokratische linke Partei zu einem massiven Problem geworden ist, eine Arbeiterschicht hinter sich zu scharen, die nicht länger gewerkschaftlich organisiert ist. Ein Bereich, in dem die Gewerkschaften weiterhin stark sind, ist der öffentliche Dienst. Allerdings hat dieser nichts mit dem Kampf gegen den Kapitalismus zu tun, und jede Verbesserung für die Angestellten des öffentlichen Dienstes geht in der Regel mit Steuererhöhungen einher und senkt damit die Kaufkraft und den Lebensstandard derjenigen, die nicht im öffentlichen Dienst beschäftigt sind. Fünftens haben wir anstelle eines Kampfes für materielle Besserstellung einen Kampf um Identitätsfragen. Dieser nimmt besonders harte Züge in der Einwanderungsdebatte an. Bei den Themen Immigration und Fremdenfeindlichkeit sehen die Linken stets sehr schlecht aus, wenn sie in die Defensive gezwungen werden. Alles, was Minister des Mitte-Links-Lagers zum Thema Einwanderung sagen, können ihre Gegenüber vom konservativen rechten Lager oder gar die vom ausländerfeindlichen rechten Rand mit Leichtigkeit übertrumpfen. Es war ein historischer Fehler anzunehmen, das Konzept der Nation würde sich überleben. Tatsache ist, dass in der Europäischen Union die Autonomie und Autorität des Nationalstaats stark zugenommen haben. Es gibt viel mehr neue Nationen in Europa als zu Zeiten der Römischen Verträge oder der Einheitlichen Europäischen Akte 30 Jahre danach. Die EU verbraucht letztendlich nur ein Prozent des europäischen Bruttonationaleinkommens. 99 Prozent des europäischen Einkommens und Wohlstands werden in und von den Nationalstaaten ausgegeben. Sechstens geht es um Europa selbst. Wann immer die Linke die Art von Euroskeptizismus zu bedienen versucht, wie es zum Beispiel die politischen Berater des britischen Finanzministers nach 1997 bei der Frage der Euro-Einführung taten, gelingt es ihr nicht, anti-europäische Ressentiments zu zähmen - im Gegenteil: Sie schürt sie noch. Frankreichs Sozialistische Partei dachte, sie könnte sich den Euroskeptizismus zu Nutze machen, als viele ihrer politischen Führungsleute 2005 zu einem "Nein" beim französischen Referendum über den damaligen Verfassungsvertrag aufriefen. Das Referendum gewannen sie, aber sie scheiterten bei den darauf folgenden Wahlen, da Europafeindlichkeit kein fesselndes, attraktives Thema für intelligente Wähler ist, die genau wissen, dass trotz ihrer Schwächen die Mitgliedschaft in der Europäischen Union für eine moderne, europäische Nation unabdingbar ist. Siebtens gab es einen einzigen Bereich, in dem die politische Linke tatsächlich recht erfolgreich gewesen ist: Sie ist zur politischen Stimme der Frauen in der Gesellschaft geworden. Die Mehrheit des neuen Kabinetts in Spanien sind Frauen. In Schweden und Dänemark sind die Vorsitzenden der zwei sozialdemokratischen Parteien, die wahrscheinlich die nächsten Wahlen zurückgewinnen werden, Frauen, und die einzige wahre Hoffnung auf einen sozialistischen Wahlsieg in Frankreich bestünde darin, dass sich die Sozialisten geschlossen hinter die umstrittene, aber kommunikationsgewandte Ségolène Royal stellen würden. Es ist wichtig, dass Frauen in hohen Ministerposten oder anderen hohen politischen Rängen keine Alibifunktion haben, und dass die weibliche Seite sozialdemokratischer Politik zur Geltung kommt. Dies wiederum erfordert einen völlig anderen Ansatz als die traditionell männliche Mitte-Links-Politik im Europa des 20. Jahrhunderts. Das achte Problem, das die linke Mitte zu lange ignoriert hat, ist die Tatsache, dass ein strenges Schwarz-Weiß-Denken zwischen Staat und Markt zu nichts führt. Das Wichtigste von allem ist weder der Staat der Linken noch der freie Markt der Rechten, sondern der Mensch. Regierende und oppositionelle Linke konzentrieren sich zu sehr auf die Verwaltung des Staatsapparates und zu wenig auf die Komplexität individueller Wünsche und Bedürfnisse. Die Linke muss deshalb eine Sprache sprechen, die den Individualisten in jedem von uns anspricht, anstatt starre Schemata für Behörden und eine Politik der Gleichmacherei zu entwerfen, sobald sie an die Regierung gelangen. Arroganz der Regierungsmacht Neuntens: Auch wenn sie zeitweise zwangsläufig Koalitionen eingehen müssen, sind und bleiben die großen Mitte-Links-Parteien mit großer Arroganz der Meinung, an die Regierung zu gelangen und dort zu bleiben, sei ihr Exklusivrecht. Linke Parteien scheuen traditionell davor zurück, auch im Vorfeld von Wahlen breite politische Koalitionen und Wählerbündnisse zu suchen. Stattdessen wird als Vorwand nach dem perfekten Wahlsystem gesucht, als wäre die Form der Wahlen wichtiger, als es die Inhalte sind, für die sich die Menschen in einer Wahl entscheiden. Nirgendwo in Europa scheint es noch eine Mitte-Links-Partei zu geben, die in der Lage ist, im ersten Wahldurchgang mehr als 30 bis 35 Prozent zu gewinnen. Das zehnte ungelöste Dilemma der Linken in Europa ist die internationale Politik. Außenpolitik war stets die Achillesferse der demokratischen Linken. Durch ihre instinktiv anti-kapitalistische und antiimperialistische Haltung hat sich die Linke gegen die Vereinigten Staaten als größten Vertreter des modernen imperialistischen Kapitalismus positioniert. Dadurch hat sie sich auch auf skurrile Verbündete unter den Gegnern der Demokratie eingelassen, solange diese nur anti-amerikanische Parolen skandierten. Die europäischen Linken sind nicht in der Lage, in Bezug auf Russland oder China mit einer Stimme zu sprechen. Sie sind geteilter Meinung darüber, ob der Populismus eines Hugo Chávez in Venezuela oder der beharrliche Reformismus des Präsidenten Lula in Brasilien zu unterstützen sei. Unterschiedliche Meinungen zu Russlands semi-demokratischem System, zu Irans Äußerungen zur Vernichtung Israels und seinem lebhaften Streben nach Atomwaffen sowie der Unwille, die Völkermorde in Ruanda, Darfur oder Anfang der neunziger Jahre auf dem Balkan zu beenden, lassen darauf schließen, dass die europäischen Linken zurückschrecken, wenn sie mit schwergewichtigen außenpolitischen Entscheidungen konfrontiert werden. Es finden sich vielleicht noch weitere Bereiche, in denen Europas demokratische Linke des 21. Jahrhunderts es insgesamt versäumt hat, neue Herausforderungen anzunehmen. Der Geist der 68er schwebt über uns, während wir erneut davon träumen, realistisch zu sein und das Unmögliche zu verlangen oder uns an die Macht zu wünschen. Aber außerhalb der Internet-Blogs und der gemütlichen politischen Seminare leben Millionen von europäischen Wählerinnen und Wählern ein komplexes, durch Armut und andere Formen der Unterdrückung eingeschränktes Leben. Sie brauchen und verdienen eine neue Sozialdemokratie des 21. Jahrhunderts, die den Herausforderungen gewachsen ist, begeistern und die Unterstützung beibehalten kann, um mit einem demokratischen Mandat an der Regierung bleiben zu können, und die sowohl den Willen als auch die Fähigkeit zu Reformen und progressivem Denken hat.

Books review: Writing the American Election

This discussion of two recent books relevant to US politics was posted on the Prospect website.
June 2008
Richard North Patterson, The Race (MacMillan, £16.99)
Arthur M Schlesinger, Journals 1952-2000 (Penguin Putnam, £25)

One of the puzzles of the US presidential coverage is why British journalists are given so much space in news and comment pages. The current presidential election is gripping but as our London-based commentariat pontificate surely it makes more sense to go to source., Newsweek, as well as Slate, Drudge, Huffington and the campaign sites themselves means we get US politics as they are cooking, not re-heated by British correspondents.
There is another reason to avoid the repetitious and samey US reporting. American writers – factual and novelists – give so much better accounts of what is going on. Nothing you will read of John McCain will be as good as Richard North Patterson’s ‘The Race.’ This is simply the best novel about politics in any language since Joe Klein’s ‘Primary Colors.’ "The Race" has as its hero a senator who was captured and tortured when his plane was shot down. Not McCain over Vietnam but the handsome Corey Grace over Iraq in the first Gulf War. Patterson puts a decent distance between his hero and McCain but although not quite a roman a clé, "The Race" has in thin disguise Rupert Murdoch, Collin Powell, and various conservative political pastors like Jimmy Swaggart and Bob Jones.
The Republican Corey Grace has to decide how far he will go in bowing before religious and media interests in order to win the nomination. His opponent is a Catholic senator who condemns homosexuality, and promises the religious lobbies all they want to hear on abortion and stem cell research. "The Race" is perfectly paced and researched. It is located in the Republican camp but takes the reader into the heart of political darkness that the ad hominem and misogynist ad feminam brutality of the Clinton-Obama fight has revealed.
The climax at the Repubican convention as the liberal(ish) Republican hero fights it out with the moral majority Christian coalitionists is a thrill a paragraph. For the Democrats there is no better guide to the mood and passions of a presidential contest than Arthur Schlesinger’s marvellous journal of US politics from Truman to Clinton. Schlesinger, a pure blood public intellectual, was a personal friend or close contact of every important Democratic political figure (and many on the right like Henry Kissinger, whose description of Donald Rumsfeld as "the rottenest person" he had ever encountered in government is worth the book’s price alone). Although linked with the Kennedy brothers, Schlesinger was his own man and confident as a star Harvard historian in his intellectual independence and judgement.
He rightly obsesses rightly with the power of political words. Adlai Stevenson’s nomination speech in 1952 was "a brilliant literary document, complex and carefully wrought in its composition had wonderful passages of political polemic; and it was suffused throughout with a sense of the immensity and impenetrability of the crisis of our time."
Great speeches inspire the liberal-left. But pedestrian speechifiers like Nixon, Eisenhower and Bush, père et fils, often win power. Obama Barrack is currently wowing Americans with his verbal fireworks. But here is John F Kennedy in 1960 on a favourite tribune of the Democratic Party, Hubert Humphrey, whose liberal podium performances raised cheers. "Hubert is too hot for the present mood of the people. He gets people too excited, too worked up. What they want today is a more boring, monotonous personality like me." Senator McCain might take comfort from that observation. So might Gordon Brown.
In 1972, Schlesinger noted : " Incredible as it may seem, it really looks as if George (McGovern) will get the Democratic nomination…He was right to declare so early, and he has shown an accurate intuition on the issues." Barack Obama also declared a 15 months ago. Will his fate be that of George McGovern?
In January 1992, Schlesinger comes back from a trip to Europe and wrote: "My return has witnessed the decline and , I fear, the fall of Bill Clinton". Being a great diarist does not equal perfect judgement. But to read Schlesinger’s journal entries is to be taken into the US presidential electoral process in a way no British writer could manage. The highs and lows, the incessant compromises, and the disappointment that emerge once power is won are all on display. But so is the idealism, the desire to use state power creatively, and a republican, Whitmanesque belief that democracy and political engagement are great public goods.
The 2008 US presidential contest is important and we can read about it every day thanks to the web. This novel and set of diaries are perfect context reading. Thanks to the internet and Amazon we no longer need British reporters to tell us what is happening in America. It is time for our editors to look east across the Channel, across the Mediterranean, the Gulf and the Indian Ocean. That is where our best journalists should be if we are to understand our European destiny as well as the wider troubled, complex world.

British and European Policy on the Maghreb countries – Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia : Call for Support for President Sarkozy’s Mediterranean Union Initiative
Speech in the House of Commons

12 June 2008
I turn now to the issue of the Maghreb—the countries of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria। There is a debate about the extent to which Libya should be considered a fully Maghrebian country, but for the sake of my remarks, I will refer just to Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Those three countries are indispensable future partners for Europe, and I therefore very much welcome the initiative by President Sarkozy. When he announced what the French would do during their presidency of the EU, he said that they would create what he called a union for the Mediterranean.

That raised certain eyebrows and met with opposition from parts of the EU that felt that the proposals were about the French seeking to put themselves in the driving seat in relation to their corner of Europe—the western Mediterranean. It was thought that that would somehow undo the so-called Barcelona process and the Euromed work launched in 1995. Be that as it may, new energy and a new initiative were needed to get Mediterranean and European economic and diplomatic relationships going again. Of course, the supreme prize is peace in the middle east, but rather than trying to climb the Mount Everest of middle east peace without oxygen, it might be better to attempt the rather lower mountains of the Maghreb countries. I hope that the Government will support President Sarkozy, and I am sure that they will be represented at the conference that he proposes to call. I also hope that we will somewhat upgrade our economic, political and diplomatic relations with the countries in the area.
The three Maghreb countries are all tricky. Algeria is an enormous potential source of energy—particularly gas—for the EU, but since the early 1990s it has faced a non-stop assault by ideological Islamists, which is aimed at destabilising the state. In that respect, it remains a mark of shame that Britain—its legal system, the Home Office, Liberty and all the other libertarian organisations—protected a man called Rachid Ramda, who was the financier behind the Algerian Islamist onslaught on the Paris Metro, which killed several innocent people in 1995. That was a forerunner of what happened in Madrid and in our own London tube bombings in July 2005. It took 10 years for this terrorist thug to be sent back to face his accusers in Paris and he is now, correctly, serving a life sentence because the evidence—with or without 42 days’ discussion with him—was incontrovertible.
That is what the Algerian state has faced. It is a nationalist state run by the military, so it is not my cup of tea in human rights terms. However, we should encourage it to take the same path as other parts of the world, such as Taiwan and Korea, as well as some of the Latin American and south-east Asian states, which started off in an authoritarian way but evolved over time.
Morocco has functioning political parties. It has a young king, who is trying to maintain order without wanting to lose the control and authority that all kings have before they understand the benefits of a parliamentary system. He works closely with the Jewish community in the country, just as the President of Tunisia does with the Jewish community there. Morocco’s king is seeking a different relationship with Europe. Sadly, there are not enough British contacts down there. We see the Maghreb countries as being a bit of a French backyard. The Spanish and the French have significant disagreements about Western Sahara and the Sahel. There is not, for example, any trade between Morocco and Algeria, which is as absurd as having no trade between Germany and France.
We should be taking the argument for what we have achieved in Europe in the past 40 years and saying that it would be a way forward, although we must be careful not to patronise. Of course we should make demands for freedom of expression and human rights, but it is a huge pleasure to walk around in Tunis, for example, and see Tunisian women not being obliged by a patriarchal religious order to wear strange costumes covering them, and to be normal women who hold down Government, ministerial and professional jobs.
President Sarkozy’s initiative faces difficulties such as whether Muslim Government leaders will be prepared to sit down in the same room with the Prime Minister of Israel, and the question of Turkey.
Mr. David Drew (Stroud) (Lab/Co-op): My hon. Friend alluded to Western Sahara, in which I take a particular interest. Surely the French could do more to persuade Morocco that its performance over Western Sahara, in direct contravention of all UN mandates, is disgraceful. It is about time that we recognised that. The British have a much more progressive attitude towards Western Sahara—that it is a country in all but name and should be treated as such.
Mr. MacShane: The UN has commissions in the region, and the very distinguished Baker Commission is working on the issue. I am very glad, at times, that we did not have debates of this kind when the American South chose to secede from the Union in 1861. Such issues of identity are sensitive and difficult. In 1987, the Labour party election manifesto contained more about Polisario than it did about Europe. When people go on visits and meet dear friends from different movements around the world, they can get very focused on those issues. We need an agreement and peace, but Algeria also needs to stop supporting people whom the Moroccan Government see as being against them. All three of those Governments need the maximum support to stop what is now called the Maghreb branch of al-Qaeda. Whether that name is self-taken, or really represents any intervention by al-Qaeda, I am not qualified to judge; but we need more intervention, visits, investment, trade and commerce. Those three majority Muslim nations—not quite Arab, because the people are Berber—are future big partners for Europe.

British and European Policy on Kosovo and Macedonia
Speech in the House of Commons

12 June 2008
I had the pleasure of observing the Macedonian elections two Sundays ago. Some of them will be rerun this Sunday because of electoral fraud and manipulation. Before that, I had the pleasure of being in Kosovo, which I visited often as a Minister. I am delighted that my hon. Friend the Minister will be in Kosovo on Sunday or Monday, at the moment when Kosovo achieves its statehood. It has already made its declaration of independence, but this weekend, and with the presence of the Minister, it will celebrate its independence. It is absolutely right that Britain should be there because the fate of the western Balkans has taken up a great deal of the attention of the House and the Government over the past 20 years.
I suspect that all of us in this House will, at some stage, have had gentlemen and women come into our surgeries who are asylum seekers from Kosovo or other parts of the western Balkans, or who have been transited through that broad region from Athens up to the Alps. Trying to bring some stability, democracy and rule of law to that region ought to be a Government priority. It took far too long for the British Government to intervene in the 1990s.
I commend to those who are interested the statement made to the House by the right hon. and learned Member for Kensington and Chelsea (Sir Malcolm Rifkind), who was Foreign Secretary at the time of the Srebrenica massacre. I saw a bowl of water on the Dispatch Box and a distinguished Foreign Secretary washing his hands in it, saying, "It’s nothing to do with me, we cannot do anything, we’re staying out of it." I hope that I never have the shame of listening to that kind of do-nothing policy again in my lifetime. Later, we had to intervene in Kosovo. It is one of the positive marks in the record of the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, that he put together the coalition and persuaded the United States to put in air and land power to stop the mass butchery of Muslims by Milosevic’s thugs.
For nine years, soldiers have been down there—18,000 are currently in the Kosovo peace implementation force—and Kosovo has been in limbo, being neither a state nor a province. It is quite clear that the people of Kosovo utterly reject rule by Belgrade, just as the people of Slovenia, Croatia and Macedonia and, more latterly, the people of Montenegro rejected its rule. The people of Kosovo did that peacefully by building their own civil society in the 1980s and 1990s, under a great leader, President Ibrahim Rugova. They took the path of Ghandian non-violence until the very last moments of 1998 and 1999, when such were the exactions and repressions by the Black and Tans of the Milosevic militia that a resistance army was formed and a short war took place until the intervention of NATO, Europe, the United States and the United Nations to bring peace to the area. However, peace in the sense of absence of war has not meant peace in the sense of the Kosovans being allowed to create their own Government, elect their own leaders, decide their own laws and build their own relationships with their neighbours and the wider world.
Martti Ahtisaari, the Finnish President, after many long visits to both Belgrade and Pristina, and after the utter refusal of the authorities in Belgrade to accept that Kosovo should be Kosovo, advanced a plan, which in his typical Ahtisaari, Finnish way contained important safeguards for the Serb people in Kosovo. There is no denying that Kosovo is, for many Serbs, part of their historic roots: the first patriarchy of Serbia was in Pec, which is in Kosovo, and some of the great battles in Serbian history were fought in what is now Kosovo. However, one could say the same about Ireland in relation to England in the 1920s. Looking back to the 14th century, I imagine that bits of France were then part of England, but we do not seriously expect to be allowed to reclaim them. It is one of the tragedies of the western Balkans that the Serbs have not allowed Kosovo to be Kosovo and accepted that the future will be different; instead, they have been locked, sadly, in the past—particularly the ultra-nationalist irredentists in Belgrade, who have been making speeches and demanding that the Kosovans should accept rule by Belgrade again.
Kelvin Hopkins: There has been a suggestion of partition for some small bits of Kosovo, which would allow the remaining small groups of Serbs who tend to be on the Serbian fringes of Kosovo to join Serbia or form enclaves within Kosovo. Is that possible?
Mr. MacShane: I travelled from Prizren to Kacanik in the southern part of Kosovo and went through Brezovica, which is a Serb enclave—it is the principal ski station in Kosovo—doing a little reconnaissance for a later visit. As former chair of the all-party group on skiing, I say that it is important that we build our contacts on the slopes. The notion that this little part of Kosovo could somehow be disconnected and reconnected to Serbia is a bit like saying that Luton could be disconnected from Bedfordshire and reconnected to one of the many European countries that my hon. Friend is so fond of.
Kelvin Hopkins: Wales.
Mr. MacShane: Perhaps. The answer to my hon. Friend’s question is no: the frontiers are set. Many Albanians living in the Presevo valley in Serbia proper could also make that claim. It is better to stick with the current frontiers rather than start trying to redraw them, which is not a Serb demand, by the way; the Serb demand is still that Kosovo is an eternal part of Serbia and that the Kosovans just jolly well have to live with that. On the contrary, we have to lend maximum support to allow Kosovo to be Kosovo. Britain has done that. Some 42 nations have now recognised Kosovo, and that is the agreed position of the European Union.
However, I say with regret that key European partners are refusing to recognise Kosovo. Spain, for example, does not recognise Kosovo, for reasons that are astonishing. As someone who has always supported Spanish freedoms and democracy, I have to say that for Spain to side with the Serbs is the same as if I were to side with the ETA thugs in the Basque country against the broader interests of the Spanish people. Bulgaria, a Slav country, has recognised Kosovo and I congratulate it for doing so. However, Romania, which is not a Slav country has, for whatever reasons, refused so to do.
Greece does not recognise Kosovo. That is a contradiction in terms of Greeks’ national interests. Greece needs a peaceful western Balkans corridor soon—I should like it to be composed of EU member states—through which Greek commercial interests, including tourism, can pass, allowing visitors to go peacefully up to the north of Europe instead of having to go through all the border checks. There is huge Greek investment in both Macedonia and Kosovo. Greek business men are there, helpfully making money and growing the two economies. Yet Athens cannot, for its own reasons, find its way to a peaceful relationship with Macedonia over the name issue or even give Kosovo diplomatic recognition, as we have and as France, Germany, the Nordic countries and the United States have.
I ask my hon. Friend the Minister to get the Foreign Office to see what it can do to counter the Spanish diplomatic campaign in Latin America against recognition for Kosovo. Through the Commonwealth and with our French friends—through La Francophonie, as it is called—and through other networks of states, working in particular with the majority Muslim countries, I ask him to see what can be done to show Belgrade and, behind Belgrade, a deeply revanchiste Russia, that Kosovo is getting recognition.
I am impressed by the level of economic activity in Kosovo. In the three or four years since I last visited, when I was a Minister, it really has been transformed from a war-torn country into one with a great deal of economic activity. Much of the money in the country is what we call "black money", or illegal money, but as the Swiss say, money has no smell. With new buildings being built, along with new restaurants, hotels and gas stations, and with cars on the road—there are traffic jams galore in Pristina—and motorways being built, I see a future of economic activity and buzz.
Thank goodness, the 2nd Battalion the Rifles is currently in Kosovo, but only for a short time to cover the arrival of the EU legislative team, which is mentioned on page 6 of the report. The Ministry of Defence suffers from immense overstretch and from the deep irritation, shared by many hon. Members, at the fact that although there are 18,000 troops in Kosovo, few of them are as capable of imposing peace as the British Army and one or two other European contingents. I ask the MOD to see whether there are training possibilities in Kosovo for the soldiers we have stationed in Germany, and some way of having more British soldiers on the ground. Believe me, armoured vehicles going around with the Union Jack fluttering at the back do more to send out signals of confidence, law and order and a rule-based society than almost anything else.
We need to de-UNMIK Kosovo—the United Nations Mission in Kosovo—which is mandated by the UN and does its best. However, after the initial year or two with top people visiting, it does not have the finest flowers of the available global civil service. I am sure that they do not leave security material on the local public transport, but they are not necessarily of the highest quality. Frankly, a state cannot be run by the United Nations. A nation can only run itself by creating its own state.
Macedonia, which is next door to Kosovo, has never gone over the edge into full-scale violence, as the ex-Yugoslav states to its northern frontier did in the 1990s. In 2001, we came close, but strong intervention by Lord Robertson, who was the Secretary-General of NATO, Lord Patten, who was the EU Commissioner for foreign affairs, and Javier Solana, who was the European Council’s representative on foreign matters, really made a difference. Through the Lake Ohrid agreement, they stabilised the situation and avoided what could otherwise have been a quite difficult confrontation between Macedonians and Albanians, and between Macedonians and Macedonians of a more Slavic origin.
Unfortunately, the failure of the EU and NATO to allow Macedonia to pursue full Euro-Atlantic integration has led to the return of some of the old political thinking in Macedonia. I do not blame Her Majesty’s Government for that in any way. We have two excellent ambassadors in Andrew Key, who is in Skopje, and Andy Sparks, who is in Pristina. I also know how concerned the Minister is about the issue and how concerned previous Europe Ministers have been about it in the past few years. However, the plain fact is that Macedonia was led to believe that it could join NATO, when key NATO stakeholders did not have enough authority to overturn Greek objections.
I will not enter into the debate about Macedonia’s name—it is rather like the argument in "Gulliver’s Travels" about whether one should crack an egg at the big end or the small end. I accept that the issue is of passionate importance to our Greek friends, but it should not prevent Macedonia from exercising its right to pursue EU and NATO integration. I therefore ask the Minister to see what solutions can be found. We should leave the issue of the name to one side, and I will not, as I said, enter into a debate about its merits or demerits. We should not allow the question whether a rose is a rose by any other name, or Macedonia is Macedonia by any other name, to block Macedonia’s path to greater EU integration.
The same is true for Serbia. I love the Serb people. On every visit to Belgrade, I feel that I am in one of the greatest cities of the world, with an educated, cultivated, post-industrial—almost post-national—class of people who are multilingual and hugely talented. None the less, they seem to want to live firmly in the past. We make a mistake in thinking that if we are kind to the Serbs, they will be kind to themselves.
In that respect, I regret that there was a change of policy at the European Council on the issue of Ratko Mladic, the man primarily responsible for the butchery of 8,000 European Muslims in cold blood in 1995. The condition that was always set—that he should go to The Hague if Serbia is to unlock the door barring it from setting out on the path to future EU membership—seems to have been watered down. Ratko Mladic is known to the Serb authorities and he was part of the Serb army and militia network. He was seen around Belgrade a few years ago, so he is not hiding in the hills, unlike his comrade in shame, Karadzic, who is in Republic Srpska. We should have made Mladic’s removal to The Hague an unqualified condition, just as we made the rendering of Ante Gotovina to The Hague a condition for starting Croatia’s application for EU membership.
The Serbs do not respect the EU when it gets weaker bit by bit, drops conditionality and thinks that it will be rewarded for being nice. Not until we politically confront and defeat the so-called radicals—they are actually ugly, Falangist nationalists, who are not radical in any progressive or decent sense of the word—will there be much hope for Serbia and its brave President, Boris Tadic.
Those are just some views on the western Balkans, which derive from my complete belief that, having offered to integrate the western Balkans into Europe and Euro-Atlantic structures, we have taken our eye off the ball. For honourable and decent reasons, the eyes of the Minister and the Foreign Secretary have to be on many other balls and many other parts of the world. Currently, they are probably on the level of rainfall in Ireland and on what effect that might have on a certain decision that is being taken in the emerald isle today. However, Europe and Her Majesty’s Government have not put the same high-level pressure on the western Balkans that they did during the recent great crises. Bit by bit, the Balkans, instead of Europeanising, are gently suggesting that they might balkanise Europe. We need a serious push to move all the western Balkan nations—I have not gone into depth about Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro or Croatia—into the same position that Slovenia now finds itself in.

Irish Vote

Why the Irish Vote is a Wake-Up Call for Pro-Europeans
18 June 2008

There is something almost Brechtian about the Irish vote. If Europeans cannot have the Europe they want, then Europe will have to choose different Europeans. That to begin with was the response of angry promoters of the Lisbon Treaty as they looked aghast at the Irish No. Bullying language was heard. The point was made that Ireland had benefited from CAP largesse as if France and other countries had also not supped generously at the table laden with European agro-subsidies over the years. Undoubtedly, one of the causes of the Irish No was the fear that a liberal, pro-globalisation European Commission, with Peter Mandelson in charge of world trade issues, would start building down the agricultural subsidies Ireland enjoys.
Indeed, a steady trope of the London Eurosceptics (and pro-EU Brits) is that CAP must go. So the Irish plea to maintain CAP might have been the occasion of scorn by the UKIP and Tories. But the pleasure in seeking the Irish give a slap across the face of Brussels trumped any wish to see major reforms of how Europe works.
George Schöplin argues in a fascinating piece just posted on Open Democracy that the Irish referendum exposes some of the core problems about the conflict between plebiscitary and parliamentary democracy. Certainly, it was amusing to see Gerry Adams, one of the most successful of the populist-nationalist leaders in current European politics emerge as the star figure on the BBC television coverage of the Irish No. Of course, like Stuart Wheeler, Lord Ashcroft and Stanley Kalms in England, we now have an millionaire businessman – an English Eurosceptic with an Irish passport - who believes that his wealth allows influence over democracy.
The Socialist Workers Party in Ireland also claimed victory plus the usual nationalist anti-EU grouplets. But at the next Irish general election, these forces will not win many seats in the Dail – Ireland’s parliament. In France, Poland and Spain there have been important elections in the last 12 months which have seen victories for politicians who have campaigned explicitly on a pro-Lisbon Treaty platform. President Sarkozy defeated the pro-referendum socialists in France with this pledge to ratify Lisbon by parliamentary means. He is entitled to feel that the millions who voted for him and for Lisbon also have a right to be counted as much as the 860,000 Irish who voted No.
Given the unpopularity of the ruling party in Ireland it is doubtful if any referendum on any issue supported by the current political elite in Dublin would be won. The same is true in Britain. I entered politics at a time when there was a huge right-wing campaign for a referendum on restoring capital punishment. I have been leery of referendums ever since. The decision of the Liberal Democrats to align themselves with the Tories in 2004 in favour of a referendum on the defunct constitution forced Tony Blair’s hand. With Labour anti-EU MPs seeking to take Labour back to the 1980s, and the failure of the government to promote Europe – my ministerial budget to provide factual information on Europe was cut to £200,000, the kind of amount Nike might spend on promoting a new shoe lace in Birmingham – the Commons arithmetic became dodgy.
Blair preferred to opt for a referendum rather than defend Europe. This was not the first example of new Labour opportunism being put above principle. As it happened the French and the Dutch killed the constitution. What came back was a modest amending treaty with more power for national parliaments and as Catherine Stihler, the smart Labour MEP, pointed out in the Financial Times, new rights for children to match the rights for animals in existing treaties. In fact, the EU could do a lot more if national governments would agree to cooperate under existing treaties. The High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs could today join the EU Commission to agree lines on foreign policy but the Commission refuses to admit him to its deliberations. So far this century, Europe has spent and still spends too much time this century debating its inner-workings and what the EU is and might be rather than what Europe does and must do. When the EU moves from the Europe of être – being, to the Europe of faire – doing, citizens’ support may return. But in a darkening world economy as rising costs for fuel, food and credit erode purchasing power, the chances of a confident pro-EU movement amongst frightened, defensive, nervous voters are slim.
The Delors coalition of support for Europe which combined open trade capital with a strong social element has slowly dissolved. European capitalism is weak, unable to offer jobs or compete with the new centres of economic energy around the world. The European Court of Justice has come out with judgements which strike a dagger into the heart of settled union wage-bargaining systems in Germany, Sweden and Finland. All three countries do not have legal minimum wage rules which, if in place, might have prevented the ECJ from interfering in wage settlement mechanism.
But the end result is a growing disillusionment with Europe as a source of social justice. Coupled with enlargement and the possibility of Turkey joining and a toxic cocktail of hate against the EU can easily be mixed by fervent Eurosceptics.
The Irish were told lies that Lisbon meant the end of Irish control over abortion, over taxes, and over cherished neutrality. There is nothing in Lisbon that represents any threat to Ireland in these areas but once a lie about Europe has its boots on getting the truth out is impossible. I have just received an email from a constituent in Rotherham. The writer tells me that the EU has a secret plan to abolish all elected district, town, city and county councillors in Britain. Where does she get this nonsense from? But the email is well-argued and polite. When voters are led to believe such guff what chance does truth have?
And the truth is that the EU takes just 1 per cent of Europe’s gross national income. Of that one per cent 85 per cent goes straight back to national governments to spend on farmers’ subsidies and on regional projects. Thus 15 per cent – one seventh of one per cent – stays with "Europe" to spend and enforce its will. There is no super-state that can be built with just one seventh of one per cent of the income of the area its presumes to govern. Indeed, the House of Commons Library produces reports showing that fewer than 10 per of laws in the UK emanate from Europe. In the field of trade and product standardisation, Europe does decide and EU rules now influence environmental issues. But 90 per cent of the laws European nations make – on tax, on social security, on education, on crime, on divvying up spending, on war and peace – are all made-in-Britain (and other nations) laws.
But Europe’s political leaders make a habit of blaming Europe for all they do not like. And not mentioning Europe when good things happen like four weeks’ paid holiday or lower mobile phone bills. Can anyone recall a British minister who regularly and repeatedly makes the case for Europe? I tried to but was fired in a 30-second phone call from Tony Blair after endless briefing from the Euro-hostile forces in the Treasury. The same is true in Ireland. Brian Cowan said he has not bothered to read the Lisbon Treaty. Why vote for a man who has not read what he asks you to vote for! And if no-one speaks for Europe why should voters vote for Europe? Pro-Europeans are complacent. Anti-European are fervent. Evangelical passion against Europe always trumps the boring assertion of reason.
In that sense the Irish No should be a wake-up call. If no-one makes the case for Europe then the centrifugal forces that want to weaken and break up the EU will grow in strength. Common sense has broken out as both David Miliband and Gordon Brown have responded to the Irish No by insisting on a calm response so that a problem does not become a crisis. Miliband told fellow EU foreign ministers to drop the "Punish Ireland" language and instead let Ireland have time to think and reflect. Now the French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, declares "We are all Irish" and in today’s Figaro, Pierre Lequiller, a member of Sarkozy’s ruling UMP party and chair of the French National Assembly’s Europe Committee writes: "Let us respect the Irish vote. Let us examine our own mistakes before criticising their choice. The defeat in Ireland is a defeat for all of us – a defeat for a Europe that has cut itself off from its citizens."
Jean-Claude Juncker, the Luxembourg prime minister, and the last supporter in high office of federal Europe, also said there was no hurry and everyone should go away and think about what to do next. They have all accepted Miliband’s leadership of hugging Ireland close. Gerry Adams together with Ukip and William Hague has enjoyed his night on the BBC but Ireland is neither going to quit nor fatally damage Europe.
Gordon Brown has shown clear leadership on Europe since he first announced he would ratify Lisbon by parliament and face down the Daily Mail-Telegraph-Sun campaign for a plebiscite. He is supported by Nick Clegg and won his votes in the Commons after some fine Despatch Box performances by Jim Murphy, the able Europe Minister. In the Lords, Tory blow-hards have tried to whip up an anti-EU storm but failed. This morning one heard the hilarious confirmation from David Howell, the obsessive anti-European Tory foreign policy spokesman in the Lords, admitting that if the Irish had voted Yes he would still have opposed Lisbon.
So Tory and UKIP and Daily Mail enthusiasm for the Irish is completely cynical. If the Irish vote No they are heroes. If they had voted Yes, they would have been villains.
Meanwhile, the real Les Dawson face of Tory ideas on Europe was exposed by the rising star of Welsh Toryism, Alun Cairns, who called Italians "greasy wops" on a radio programme in Wales last week. Cameron has refused to dismiss Cairns as a parliamentary candidate and merely suspended him while an enquiry takes place. It is hard to know whether to laugh or cry at Cameron’s cowardice. Which word in the racist anti-Italian insult, "greasy wops" does Cameron fail to understand? But so deeply engrained is Tory loathing for Europe that this Welsh xenophobe is likely to carry the Tory flag in the next general election.

Article on late Senator Henry Jackson and his politics

This article explains Denis MacShane’s support for the pro-labour, pro-environment, and anti-Stalinism that helped form the late Senator Jackson’s politics.
The Hidden Conservatives

Political commentators are making a mistake when they assume the David Cameron is trying to borrow the tactics that propelled Labour to power in 1997. The superficial similarities between Tony Blair and David Cameron are obvious but Cameron has no Gordon Brown, nor Robin Cook, nor Mo Mowlam able either to think hard and strategically or to reach out empathetically to connect with British voters a decade ago in a way Labour had not done since 1945.
The real example Cameron wants to follow is that of George W Bush who invented "Compassionate Conservatism" as the only way to ease the Clinton New Democrats out of office.
In 1999, after a visit to Washington I wrote a memo for Tony Blair under the heading "Why George W Bush Will be the Next President." It was not rocket science. Bush the junior was touring America talking the language of blacks, women, the poor, Hispanics and making sure on every platform he was flanked by new Americans.
Even today, the presence of Condoleeza Rice sends out a powerful signal at a time when the idea of a woman foreign secretary or one with an ethnic background is unthinkable for European governments of left and right.
Even in office Bush has been more Keynsian than a true follower of Milton Friedman. The massive expansion in public spending and hiring of government employees under Bush is without precedent in American history.
Will the Tories go that far? Can they bury Thatcherism in the way Blair, Brown and Cook buried the Labourism that permitted short bursts in government followed by longer and longer periods in opposition?
As the Conservative seek inspiration from the United States they copy Republican cross-dressers in more and more ways.
One example is the effort to cast the former US Senator, Henry "Scoop" Jackson, as a kind of closet Cameronite. To be sure, Jackson was opposed to Soviet totalitarianism. He moved an important amendment which forced US trade policy towards the Soviet Union to negotiate the emigration of Jews and others who wanted to escape to freedom.
But Jackson’s most famous fight was with Henry Kissinger and the American conservative realists who believed in doing business with totalitarian regimes rather than confronting communism ideologically and politically.
Jackson was a big government Democratic Senator from one of the more liberal and progressive states in America, the north-east pacific state of Washington, home today to more left-wing bookshops in the US than any other state.
He was a strong supporter of American labour and worked closely with the manufacturing unions whose members produced Boeing planes in Seattle where he lived in a working class district.
Jackson’s biggest achievement was to force through legislation against President Nixon to set up the National Environment Agency and make environmental impact assessments a legal obligation on companies. US big business hates them as much as they hate Jackon’s beloved labour movement.
Jackson drew much of his ideological inspiration from the pro-labour, pro-environment, high-taxation, strong-government but anti-communist politics of Nordic social democracy. Nordic trade unions ousted or marginalised communist and shop steward militancy in the 1940s.
Today’s Tories are impoverished ahistorical creatures. They cast around for inspiration from the United States and alight on a figure like Jackson who was ready to intervene to promote democracy and use US power to that end. But he wanted government to intervene to promote green policy, to back workers and unions and to use its power to promote social justice.
If Cameron and his Notting Hill Tories really want to be followers of Scoop Jackson they have a long way to go. And of course they do not. Their secret bible is the new book by the young Tory ideologue, Douglas Murray, "Neoconservatism: why we need it." Murray makes the case for military intervention to defend democracy and freedom.
One of his heroines is the neo-con granny, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, who was one of the main philosophers of neoconservatism after it took root in US policy circles 25 years ago. But when Professor Kirkpatrick faced her first big challenge as Ronald Reagan’s neo-con Ambassador to the United Nations, namely the invasion and occupation of the Falkland Islands her reaction was to side with the fascist junta not the people who suddenly lost their freedom.
She was to be seen in New York going to Argentinian diplomatic parties at the UN to support dictatorship provided it was a right-wing dictatorship. And this is the problem with neoconservatism. It is usually one-sided in turning a blind eye to dictators like the torturing thug who runs Uzbekistan if he offers support for some other crusade.
Douglas Murray wants a true muscular neoconservatism to take over today’s Tories. His book argues for the NHS to be privatised, Britain to quit the Council of Europe, massive cuts in public services and Britain to move to the exit door of the European Union. Other than on the last point, Cameron is leading the Tories, at least in formal declarations, in the opposite direction of seeking to get into the same Guardian-BBC bed as the Lib-Dems, and much of Labour.
Hence the Cameron conundrum or David’s dilemma. He wants to Americanise the Tories in the sense of making them more Jacksonite or able to imitate George W Bush’s compassionate conservatism as shaped to win in 2000. But Jackson was a greenish union-hugger whose anti-communism wanted the US tax-payer to pay ever higher taxes to promote freedom. Bush’s conservatism had led to deficits and public spending Labour dare not dream of. A new Toryism for Britain waits to be born. Despite the genuflections to Washington it is unlikely to find true inspiration from across the Atlantic.