I have blogged about the detailed argument which Gary Titley made in his Fabian lecture last night. He set some major challenges for those who believe in the EU and British engagement in it, and there was a fired up debate at the event about how to respond.
I was struck by three things:
1. The scale of the challenges being set out for the EU were in stark contrast to either the legitimacy and political capital available to deal with them, and that will remain the case unless the current economic and political crisis does become the opportunity for a major change of approach.
2. The European narratives and arguments of a generation ago need a vast amount of rethinking and renewal if they are to connect to the causes for which the EU is needed. We would need to invent a multilateral EU if we did not have one, but the 'sceptic right is making the running, and the vacuum that is Conservative strategy on the EU has never been effectively scrutinised or challenged.
3. And 2009 is a year of responding to the financial crisis, the G20 summit, the chance to rebuild a multilateral transatlantic relationship, and of European elections and the Copenhagen climate summit. So if we can’t make a case this year, is it ever going to happen?
But it is mid-February already. I don’t know how many Labour party members know what the party’s argument is going to be in the European elections this June. I don’t think I do, so I am not well placed to share it with you. There is now strong awareness of the need to mobilise against the BNP threat, but what is the Labour case going to be?
So what should it be? What needs to change? And how can it happen?