Throw in the related weight of truly substantial factors in the Irish equation – the (Irish edition) Daily Mail, the (Irish) Sunday Times – and what have you got? An outside element hectoring and influencing. A verdict on Ireland’s future delivered from an office in Manhattan through innumerable intermediaries.
If we are honest, it is also our island’s problem. Of course, Britain’s government is endemically feeble under such unfriendly fire. Of course referendums reflect the way politicians are seen as economic policies slip out of gear. And of course Brussels doesn’t make the arguments in a way Fleet Street understands. Nonetheless, the cloud of distrust hangs oppressively heavy: one choking part of a noxious mix that brings true depression to those fighting to take European integration seriously.
It’s no help to politicians, who still retain the direct power to change or influence (for better or worse) to believe that the media (indigenous, or not) has a more direct connection to their own people. Nevertheless, Preston reckons there ought to be some basic re-reckoning in the pro European project camp:
Can Lisbon be saved? Not by a weakened Gordon Brown buffeted by the tabloids. Not by voters who don’t see how one thing connects with another. And not by a Brussels that doesn’t know how to address those it needs to win over.
The people who want to rescue Serbia from its past know the perils of narrow nationalism. They – and many like them – need our help because they are striving for something better, sometimes at huge risk. But do we even pause to perceive it? No: European union has become a gravy train of Fleet Street imagining and distant manipulation by men who don’t start from where we start or remember what we ought to remember.
Don’t make them more than a bit of the problem. But don’t brush aside how serious their deep unseriousness has become; or underestimate how direly we’ll all suffer as this project unravels. Choppy waters on Wall Street? Mountainous seas in the Channel? Let’s hope so. Because those who would sink this Europe would have to learn to swim.