Joe Tibbetts is the publisher and managing editor of I-D Information Daily; Public Service Digital and Healthcare Innovation Monitor. He has advised numerous public sector organisations on their communications.@joe_tibbetts
In 1990, engaged in helping UK creative industries win work in the European market, this correspondent wrote “the European Union is never going to work but we are going to spend the rest of our lives trying to make it do so” So it was then and so it is now and the need to keep trying to make it work was never greater.
As the "in or out" debate over Europe gathers momentum there are some, including a number of politicians infected with a particularly virulent strain of the Colonel Blimp virus, saying we should reclaim our independence, stand on our own two feet and defend our democratic patrimony against all the threats that assail us.
We are not independent! The world is increasingly inter-dependent and only an idiot would suggest that we can deal with the global threats to our economy, to our security, to the environment, to our health, to our borders, to our way of life, to our culture and to our values by standing alone. Withdrawing from the European Union into some grand isolation would be an act of madness.
A short and emotionally exhausting trip to the Battle of Britain memorial at Capel-Le-Ferne half way between Folkestone and Dover cannot but remind us of where we got to the last time we stood alone in difficult times. We couldn’t do it alone then and we can’t do it alone now.
We need to be not just friends with, or trading partners with, the “European bloc” we need to be in tight, managing from within, guiding where we can demonstrate we have the greater wisdom and following when we don’t.
We need to be part of a world class team or the world will sweep away our values, our culture and quite possibly our nation.
The statue of the young airman (wearing an Irvin jacket so that we cannot tell his rank nor which country he is from*) staring across the channel at the French shore barely 20 miles away now no longer watches the skies from which his comrades will not return but rather peers at the tidal wave of refugees at Sangatte and beyond Sangatte the smoke from the madness that is Daesh and beyond that the global economic threat posed by China and all set against a background of North Korean ballistic missile vapour trails.
When the chips are down, and there is plenty of evidence that the chips are down right now, we need friends. They may stink of garlic and corruption, do shocking things in the bed-room and have a taste for fizzy, over-chilled, beer but they need us just as we need them and that’s a basis for a long, useful and enduring marriage.
* The three thousand or so aircrew that took part in the Battle of Britain, included men from, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Newfoundland, South Africa, Rhodesia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, France, Belgium, the USA and Ireland. One was Austrian and officially stateless. It is widely accepted that Sergeant Josef Frantisek, DFM, a Czechoslovakian flying with the Polish No 303 Squadron, with 17 accredited enemy aircraft destroyed, was the highest scoring member of the few.