I don’t like being reminded sometimes that I have been around for quite some time and it was in 1975 that I found myself campaigning in the European referendum, having become active in politics at the 1974 general elections in Elgin where I grew up.
I delivered leaflets, knocked on doors and joined the general debate. I was fiercely pro European and pro international co-operation. Probably more so than most who were campaigning for staying in the European Community.
But it is a myth that the debate at that time was about an European economic community only and all about a simple common market. My recollection was campaigning about clear direction and the wider benefits of international co-operation that the European community was all about. Not just the money.
It is true that those opposing Britain being part of the European community concentrated on the economic issues of trading with the commonwealth, the United States and the price of food. So it is true that in response much was said from the pro European side to counter the arguments of the economy. But take a look at the YES leaflet on the link and you can see the general thrust is not just about that and it was always clear (as I remember) that we were embarking upon a larger European project than just a single common market.
What we should see in the leaflet then is similar to now with both the United States and other countries indicating strongly to remain within Europe as an institution. A lovely twist is that it quotes Canadian prime minister, Pierre Trudeau arguing for britain’s place in Europe. Today, his son Justin Trudeau, now also Canadian prime minister argues the same thing.
So for those that tell you that we have changed from approving a common market in the 1975 referendum, you have here the clear evidence that they are either misleading or have selective memory.
There is a lot wrong with Europe, but there is a lot that can be done because of Europe. That is the same view I take of all institutions, including the United Kingdom and Scottish Parliaments and governments. For that matter I have always considered Aberdeenshire Council as a necessary evil that with change could be made to work better for its residents and allow communities to shape their own places and take their own decisions.
I believe I have been reasonably consistent since that time.