The Bottom Line

Usually the first few paragraphs of a news story will tell you everything you need to know. Just occasionally though, the final lines of an article are the ones that could spark an entire debate. Take for example, this quote from the head of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, cited by the BBC in their current leading article:

Last week, most heads of state or government of the member states showed their willingness to move ahead with European integration towards a fiscal stability union. They showed that they want more Europe, not less

The BBC News website has been an interesting one to watch lately. For all the accusations of bias, their comments sections on the EU articles go completely against the perceived line. Most of the top rated comments either attack the BBC’s reporting or praise Cameron’s veto. If (and it’s a big “if”, although the polling numbers support it) most people agree with Cameron, Barroso’s line will not go down well with the British public, and could well provide fodder for a debate on our membership of the EU.

Edit: Changed link for polling numbers to the original Daily Mail article, which was cited by the Huffington Post but not linked. The original Huffington Post article I linked to can be found here.

Edit 2: It appears the BBC have updated their article since I first wrote this post, but the quote can still be found about half way down

Optimism and Euroscepticism

General elections tend to be won by the more optimistic parties, or more accurately, governments only change when the opposition is particularly optimistic. Think back to the campaigning of 2010 and the slogans of the Conservatives, and you might remember phrases such as “I’ll cut the deficit, not the NHS” – certainly a defensive slogan, which might be seen as a reminder of the necessary consequences of cutting the deficit. It has been argued that nobody won the 2010 election – Labour lost it.

The public inevitably like optimism in politicians, particularly when it is contrasted with the “doom and gloom” of 24 hour news channels. So it’s interesting to see what’s being said around the EU veto.

A majority of the criticism of the Prime Minister revolves around isolation and loss of influence, but the eurosceptics are for the most part keeping quiet. Despite reports that they are happy with Cameron’s veto, it would be quite a stretch to accuse them of gloating.

One of the most prominent eurosceptics, Daniel Hannan MEP, has written an article in the Daily Mail about the current arguments between europhiles and eurosceptics. What struck me most about the article was the final few paragraphs:

We can be a friend and sponsor to European integration, but our place is in the wider world, exploiting the growing markets of developing and Anglosphere nations, rediscovering the global vocation which our parents took for granted.

We are tied to peoples on every continent by custom and law, by affinity and affection, by blood and speech. Let us raise our eyes to those older and more distant horizons.

This is remarkably optimistic language which wouldn’t be out of place in an election campaign, and stands out amongst talk of the collapse of the Eurozone. We may be about to see a dramatic shift in tone from those keen to repatriate powers from the EU, drawing large numbers of voters with them.