European integration and the battle for British hearts and minds: New Labour and the Euro

Mullen, Andy and Burkitt, Brian (2003) European integration and the battle for British hearts and minds: New Labour and the Euro. Political Quarterly, 74 (3). pp. 322-336. ISSN 0032-3179

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Pro-Europeans have organised three concerted propaganda campaigns to date: in 1962-63 to secure public support following Britain’s first application to join the European Union, in 1970-1 to prepare the public for accession, and in 1974-5 to ensure continued EU membership in the 1975 referendum. This article looks at New Labour’s preparations and strategy for what is likely to be Britain’s fourth concerted pro-European propaganda campaign to ensure a ‘Yes’ vote in a referendum on British membership of the European single currency. The central arguments of this paper are six fold. Firstly, that the state of public opinion on euro membership currently represents an obstacle to the government’s policy of staging and winning a referendum , and joining the single currency. Second, that New Labour’s actual policy on the euro is one of ‘prepare and persuade’ rather than ‘wait and see’. Third, that the central components of the government’s euro referendum strategy can already be identified. Fourth, that – in contrast to the situation before the 1975 referendum – the press is divided on the issue of the euro, supporting both the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns. Fifth, that there is an imbalance of forces between the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns in favour of the former, but to a lesser extent than during the 1975 referendum. Sixth, that, given the current balance of forces, the government’s success in any euro referendum is by no means assured. The article is divided into seven parts. The first outlines the government’s policy on euro membership. The second considers the first contention – that public opinion on euro membership is currently an obstacle to the government policy – by looking at the state of public opinion polls on the issue. The third presents evidence to support the second contention – that New Labour’s actual policy is one of ‘prepare and persuade’ – by revealing the institutional and legislative preparations for entry that have been made, the two ‘low intensity’ pro-euro propaganda campaigns, and the intervention by external actors to augment those campaigns. The fourth looks at the emerging components of the government’s euro strategy and the possible problems of winning a referendum. The fifth discusses the likely role of the media in a euro referendum propaganda campaign. The sixth looks at the present balance of forces on euro membership. The seventh part concludes.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Aimed at an academic as well as a more general readership, this article reviews New Labour’s post-1997 policy on the Euro; contrasting the unofficial policy of ‘prepare and persuade’ with the official policy of ‘wait and see’. It is a co-authored piece with Dr Brian Burkitt at the University of Bradford, who supervised the PhD from which this arises. However, approximately 95 per cent of the content is Mullen’s work. The article is a revised version of an invited paper given at the Political Studies Association Conference at the University of Leicester in April 2003. Mullen’s PhD thesis, entitled ‘The British Left’s “Great Debate” on Europe: The Political Economy of the British Left and European Integration, 1945-2004’ was awarded in 2005.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Europe-Economic integration, Labour Party (Great Britain)
Subjects: L200 Politics
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Social Sciences
Depositing User: EPrint Services
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2008 13:59
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2019 19:30

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