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I’m glad I was already mid-editing my LinkedIn profile. I have a new honour to add – I just won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Yes, it’s official. The European Union has just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2012.

Of course, much like when Obama won, this has met with derision from many. I’ll admit, the announcement bemused me for a moment. But I do believe that this prize is merited.

The Prize is awarded to the person or organisation that has “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”. Most EU Council meetings have at least an element of this – they are strongly akin to the Peace Congresses of the pre-war period…and to see 27 national leaders, all of whom lead countries which have previously been embittered by conflict with the others, in peaceful negotiation over their disputes, as opposed to armed conflict, is surely a sight for sore eyes.

Europe – a continent at war for centuries – is now in a state of perpetual peace. Because of the EU and its forerunner, the European Coal and Steel Community, war on this continent is unthinkable.

The EU’s normative agenda has spread from those original six Member States, down the Iberian peninsula into former fascist states, across Central and Eastern Europe’s former Communist dictatorships, and now is working its way across the war-torn Balkans.

As Liberal Democrat MEP Ed McMillan-Scott said,

“The Nobel Peace Prize for the EU is recognition of the transformative power of the European project that brought a war-torn continent back to prosperity and through its enlargement process helped to spread democracy and freedom to the former Soviet bloc and is a model for reform worldwide.

 

“MEPs now have a decisive say on the EU’s international trade agreements and democracy and human rights are a cornerstone of our approach.

 

“In the latest survey of 25,000 European citizens by Eurobarometer, spreading democracy and human rights across the world was seen to be the most important task of the European Union.

 

“We must take this award as an encouragement to stand up for our values and redouble our efforts. We are grateful to the Nobel Committee on behalf of our constituents who must share in this award. At least we will be able to collect the award, unlike other prize winners in the past such as Andrei Sakharov, Aun San Suu Kyi and most recently Liu Xiabao.”

David Cameron gave his keynote speech at the Conservative party conference today. There’s a transcript here. It wasn’t a bad speech – not his best, but reasonable. But some of it annoyed me… Cameron showed a strong belief in standing together against globalization, and then expected plaudits when he shouted down such an approach in the European Council.

And the Olympics showed us something else.

Whether our athletes were English, Scottish, Welsh or from Northern Ireland…

….they draped themselves in one flag.

Now, there’s one person who didn’t like that…

…and he’s called Alex Salmond.

I’m going to see him on Monday to sort that referendum on independence by the end of 2014.

There are many things I want this coalition to achieve but what could matter more than saving our United Kingdom…

…let’s say it: we’re better together and we’ll rise together – so let’s fight that referendum with everything we’ve got.

Contrast that with…

Here’s something else this party’s done in government.

Last December I was at a European Council in Brussels.

It was three in the morning, there was a treaty on the table that was not in Britain’s interests…

…and twenty five people around that table were telling me to sign it.

But I did something that no other British leader has ever done before…

…I said no – Britain comes first – and I vetoed that EU treaty.

We’re doing big, Conservative things.

“We’re better together, and we’ll rise together” compared with “Britain comes first”. Anyone noticing a double-standard?

Those of you who’ve read me regularly will know I’m vehemently pro-European. But what bothers me most about the europhobe camp is the fact that they so clearly ignore their own arguments when it suits them. Apparently, we’re all better together. And I believe it’s true. We’re living in the era of globalisation. As Cameron said “We are in a global race today. And that means an hour of reckoning for countries like ours. Sink or swim. Do or decline.” That’s true. It’s why I can’t truly support Scottish or Welsh independence, though I am a strong believe in localism and regional autonomy. As barriers come down, as the world gets smaller, the small get squeezed out.

Even Britain. We currently punch well above our weight. We assume “[t]hat we can earn our living as a major industrial country…and we will always remain one.” But “[i]t has fallen to us to say – we cannot assume that any longer. ” I agree with Cameron thus far. But then why is he acting so negatively towards our membership of the world’s largest market?

If Britain is to compete in the new globalised world, Britain needs to make friends, not enemies. The very fact that Cameron was in a situation where it was 26 vs 1, shows a lack of leadership and strategy. It used to be that Sweden and the Netherlands, Poland and Spain, could be counted on to support British free-market interests. When Cameron has alienated even then, it is a tragic day for Britain.

It isn’t even true that the old countries are on their way down. If we take a look at the following graph, the Guardian has made it look like our export market is ever increasing in the developing world, countries such as the BRICS of India, China, and Russia. Which is true, our exports there are increasing, and faster than to most European countries or Commonwealth states. But it takes a second-look to notice that our trade with China and India combined is still less than our exports to Ireland. Add in Russia and Hong Kong, and it’s still only equal to our exports to France. And despite Cameron’s attitude, our trade is still growing with the vast majority of Europe.

UK Trade exports graphic

And while Cameron argues that the Old World is “sclerotic, over-regulated, spending money on unaffordable welfare systems, huge pension bills, unreformed public services”, that ignores that Asia is building welfare states across the continent. The demographic crisis that is going to hit China necessitates at least some form of a welfare state. It’s true that they’re not very regulated – but that’s not always a great thing. Remember, regulation is what stops our children’s toys being slathered with poisonous lead paint.

It may be true that while we are, at present, having a tough time across Europe “on the other side of the world, China is moving so fast it’s creating a new economy the size of Greece every three months” it doesn’t matter to us if they aren’t buying what we have to sell.

As László Andor, EU Social Affairs Commissioner said today in an interview with the FT, Cameron’s attempts to curtail the right of Europeans to live and work in Britain merely serves to damage our economy. Why should we close our doors to the best and brightest, when instead they could contribute to our economy. When the UK economy benefits to the tune of £90bn per year from levy-free trade throughout the 27 country European Union, and yet only pays an £8bn contribution to the EU for access… I cannot find a better example of “we’re better together, and we’ll rise together”. I just wish Cameron would wake up to this.

Your worst fears have come to pass my friends – the Spineless Liberal is leaving you without his pearls of wisdom for a little while. It’s been fun, but we all knew this would happen. It’s not you, it’s me. I just can’t deal with something this serious right now. Maybe in a little while, we’ll go for coffee, talk it over.

I promise, it’ll only be for a few months.

I haven’t paid nearly enough attention to this blog the last six weeks or so due to exams, which are mercifully soon ending. I might actually have passed my third year, go me!

However, I’m about to start an internship in the capital, which proves to be an amazing experience, and very demanding of my time and energy.

As such, I’m calling it quits. There’s no point you waking up at 6am every morning, desperately I’ll have been unable to sleep and posted something informative and persuasive. I’ll let you down easy.

I’m hoping to be back to blogging after my internship, my moving into a new apartment, and our Freshers Fair here in Nottingham (which will be very busy for me, as I’m now President of Nottingham Liberal Youth and want to make a big impression at Freshers). Which means that I won’t be writing till around mid-October. A long time I know but… shall we call it a date?

Hopefully, you’ll all have read my recent blog on Liquid Democracy, and how I feel it could be the future of Liberal Democrat Conferences.

Nick Barlow has linked to it on his blog and recently written a long commentary on my original post and the issue of conference generally. I heartily recommend giving it a look see.

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Another month, another political compass. We’re half-way through the year and the most I can say is… this is one odd quiz. As we’ll see this month, it has some substantial failings.

So, I’ve drifted more economically leftist, and also more socially authoritarian. Never by much, but the drift is there.

It is regrettable that so many personal fortunes are made by people who simply manipulate money and contribute nothing to their society.
Agree->Strongly Agree

Before, I’ve “Agree”d because it’s regrettable but inevitable. Now, I “Strongly Agree” but despite it being inevitable, I regret it. A slight flip but enough to shove me FAR further to the left than last month, which I don’t entirely think is accurate. I do agree with much of the left-wing critique of capitalism, but a large part of it is frankly, too huge and monolithic to be altered in the short to medium term without violent overthrow – which I do not and cannot condone. Simply because I accept parts of the world around me, doesn’t mean I like those aspects.

First-generations immigrants can never be fully integrated within their new country.
Strongly Disagree->Disagree

This lost me liberal-points, but for a liberal reason. People are always encumbered by the enculturation of their socialising culture, usually the culture in which they were born or raised. This isn’t so much of a problem, but all societies are implicitly the culture of the majority, as Kymlicka has shown – no matter how secular America may formally be, or how secular Britain may in practice be, in the end, we get Christmas day off as a bank holiday, but not Eid or Hannukah. We may allow them, but societies, no matter how open, always reflect in some way the culture of the dominant majority. Making it ever harder for immigrants to integrate. So, I disagree, they can integrate, but the cards are stacked against them. But I still maintain that this is a reasonably liberal interpretation, I never make the claim that such an issue is a good thing.

The Political Compass asks interesting questions and gives an interesting result – but it never bothers to ask why. Despite the fact that why is perhaps the most important question of them all.

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