Letter: Absence of debate on how to counter potential conflict in Europe

Sir: So France too is to hold parliamentary elections. In his television announcement, which amounted to a campaign manifesto, President Chirac made a ringing endorsement of the advantages for France of the European Union and the single currency, in the manner of those past British leaders of both main parties who campaigned for Britain accession to the Union in the Sixties:

It is true that [Europe] sometimes imposes constraints. But never forget, for half a century, for our old nations who have so often fought one another, Europe is peace. Today, in a world that is organised and transformed ever more rapidly, Europe brings us additional prosperity and security simply because Europe is union, and union makes for strength.

The advantages of the Union to France cannot be different from those it holds for Britain. President Chirac's objectives of building "a Europe respectful of the genius of the nations that compose it", and of enlargement to include the young democracies, are close enough to those the present British government purports to embrace.

Why cannot the British election campaign give leadership to the electorate instead of grubbing for votes in the gutter of xenophobia? Apart from Kenneth Clarke, Sir Edward Heath and the Liberal Democrats, there seem to be no statesmen left in Britain.


Feucherolles, France