Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
The EU was originally the EEC, and was defined exclusively as a trade organisation. So the original referendum was sold on the basis of economic benefits - Jobs™, etc.

Since then there's been a drift towards closer cultural and political integration. I'd guess some of the old timers feel this was never part of the deal, which explains part of the push-back.

But as InWales said above, we have our own 'patriotic' wingers who are captivated by a Disneyfied semi-feudal British identity. Brussels threatens this identity and promises a tidal wave of something bad or other.

These wingers don't much like anyone who isn't British.

They'll tolerate some immigrants as long as they work hard for them (middle and upper class) and don't steal their jobs (lower middle and working class). But the idea of being flooded by foreigners - i.e. anyone who isn't English British - makes them break out in a cold sweat.

The core problem is that plastic faked-up identity, and the constant media portrayal of everything that happens in Brussels as a rather floppy and bureaucratic dagger pointed at the heart of it.

And the reason for that portrayal is partly a genuine sense of outrage, and partly the expediency of being able to use public Euroskepticism as a negotiating position.

I'd guess wingers in other countries have similar motivations.

It's reactionary in the widest sense - perhaps because the UK has never quite assimilated the cool rationality of European modernism. The culture moved straight from paternal imperial arrogance to feudal volkisch nostalgia, with a side order of neo-Victorian business brutalism.

There was that hippy thing in the sixties, but apart from that UK political culture has been reliably grim, adversarial, antiquated and desperate. The only vision is a nostalgic one. Looking forward in a positive way is something that seems to terrify people.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jun 11th, 2009 at 01:27:39 PM EST
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