Perspectives: EU Special

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If there is one observation (which admittedly falls into the totally f***ing obvious category) that might be made about the EU referendum campaign, it is that it is absolutely nothing like the campaign around the Scottish independence vote of 21 months ago.

What passion there is seems to gravitate towards the Brexiteers, for some of whom the whole question has been an obsession since Britain’s first referendum, confirming the country’s membership of the then European Community, by a two to one majority, in 1975.

In addition, much of the media coverage seems to be playing out the internecine war in the Conservative Party on this issue. Even the normally day-glo Nigel Farage of Ukip seems to have been side-lined by senior Tory outers like Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Iain Duncan Smith.

In this issue of Perspectives we have tried to explore the issue of the UK’s EU membership in both a broader and narrower context.

David Purdy sets out the economic background by looking at the recovery from the financial crash of eight years ago, and the continuing crisis of the euro.

Meanwhile, Trevor Royle examines the history of the EU, from its birth, as the European Coal and Steel Community in the aftermath of the Second World War, to its present state of 28 member countries.

Caroline Lucas argues that the EU has had a positive impact on environmental issues, and Stephen Whitefield and Colin Hay discuss Britain’s role in the world and its long decline since the days of empire.

Of course Scotland itself has a special slant on the referendum: should Scotland vote in but the rest of the UK goes for out, the question of Indyref2 raises its head. In this context James Mitchell’s examination of the SNP’s historical attitude towards the EC/EU is of particular interest, concluding with a plea for the party to re-open its debate on Europe.

Ultimately the referendum outcome will be decided by the voters, and one such, Robin McAlpine, spells out the conflicts that are making it so difficult for him to come down on one side or the other.

Margaret Hunter dons the Hat to tell of her experiences as a Scottish artist working in Berlin, and Tim Haigh reveals the text of a conversation between David Cameron and the Cabinet Secretary on referendums.

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