UKIP has made immigration the main issue of its European election campaign (The problem isn’t racism – it’s the oligarchs of Brussels, Simon Jenkins, 30 April). The trap for pro-Europeans is thinking that hostility to immigration comes and goes with every economic boom and bust. Immigration does not go far enough to explain UKIP’s rise. Nigel Farage’s success would not be possible without the elephant in the room that is the European Union itself.
UKIP arguments about the EU permitting uncontrolled immigration taking jobs, damaging public services and driving down wages are flawed and dangerous. But they are also understandable, impassioned and above all convincing. They answer, in a negative way, the very simple question: what does the EU do for us? Europhiles need to answer this for a public that has lost trust in the EU. Not with obscure figures on potential investment or jobs which can be argued over. It needs to be an argument of pure politics. What does membership of the EU say about Britain? This requires a serious re-evaluation of the mission and role of the EU, as well as into its institutions and powers. A bloated and undemocratic commission forcing the democratically elected government of a country into a period of crippling austerity which it did not vote for, in order to preserve an unworkable currency union, cannot really complain that its people do not feel connected to it. It is time for those who believe in it to demand a better Europe.
Councillor Sean Woodcock
Leader of the Labour group on Cherwell District Council