Anita Pollack

Anita Pollack

Second Book -> Foreword by Neil Kinnock
Neil Kinnock

"New Labour in Europe: Leadership and Lost Opportunities"


by Neil Kinnock

Following on from her very authoritative history of Labour MEPs, Anita Pollack has produced a new look at the way the 1997-2010 Labour government related to the European Union.

Beginning with some background which outlines Labour's change of policy on the EU during the 1980s, Anita - herself a former MEP - has used a range of sources, including interviews with former Government Ministers, Labour MEPs, and the various specialist works on the subject, to analyse where the impetus for engaging with,and modernising,the EU faltered.

Tony Blair's assertion that New Labour would stand at the heart of Europe, the decision not to join the Euro, the rifts caused by the Iraq war,the series of disappointing European Parliament election results and the defeat of the New Labour government are all robustly analysed in this book which provides thought-provoking insights for students of recent history,political activists, politicians and those working in the European institutions.

Without flinching from some inconvenient truths,Anita illuminates the failure to inform and educate the British public about the merits and challenges of EU membership and relates that deficiency to the way in which the EU - after 42 years of UK participation - is still a misrepresented mystery to many.It is also - she argues - a major reason for the way in which the work of Labour (and other) MEPs continues to be little understood and underestimated.

Assesment of various EU summits, the 1998 and 2005 British Presidencies of the European Council, and relations with the Party of European Socialists are among the salient events and narratives used to ensure that the story of "New Labour in Europe" is a valuable and lively treatment of a crucial period in the history of the Labour Party with a huge Parliamentary majority and of the EU as it enlarged,facilitated the development and introduction of a from that currency,agreed a major Treaty revision and began to undertake Institutional reform. Apart from that valuable chronicling,the political astuteness and experience of Anita Pollock enables her to show how easy it is for governments to become distracted by the daily pressures of governing and by the partisan push and pull from Britain's Eurosceptic press.

In the 2014 European elections Labour was rightly encouraged by the election of an increased number of MEPs for the first time in fifteen years.The advance of nationalist and populist Parties in the UK and elsewhere,however,monopolised the headlines.As a result,it diverted the thinking of otherwise mature commentators,and pushed the invertebrate Leadership of the Conservative Party into further attempts to mollify Europhobia.Among the consequences of that have been the enfeebling of

UK influence in the EU at a crucial time,the risks arising from the possibility of an in/out referendum when no change to the Treaty is being proposed,and - since appeasement always increases the appetite of aggressors - the continued instability in our European relationships which benefits no family,community or company.

In those conditions,those who are aware of the economic,social and political advantages of UK commitment to the EU and want to secure reform that completes the Single Market,further modernises the CAP, improves management and strengthens accountability will have to achieve greater fluency and assertiveness in making their case.It is realistic and uncompromisingly patriotic to do that - and Anita Pollock's lucid treatment of the last two decades will assist their efforts.

Neil Kinnock, 2015