A note for the eurosceptics:
(Copyright Prospect magazine)
UK Labour MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber
A note for the eurosceptics:
The latest wheeze of Dan Hannan and some other eurosceptic MEPs is to claim that the European Parliament is trying to 'gag' them!
What to do about the EU constitutional treaty? That's the question we debated yesterday and voted on today.
An update on the campaign to halt the now infamous Europe-wide mailing scam that calls itself the 'European City Guide'. The last time I posted about this, it was good news: the international campaign against the ECG was starting to bear fruit, with police seizing evidence from the offices of a parent company in Switzerland and a criminal investigation underway.
One favourite eurosceptic line is that the European Union has developed with barely any reference to public opinion, and in fact without democratic support. This kind of claim is usually tossed into anti-European arguments as an aside, and therefore too often goes unaddressed.
"He who is limping is still walking."
Don't just take it from me: even the Lib Dems concede that Tony Blair's presidency of the European Council was a success! So says Andrew Duff MEP:
Credit to Blair for a successful presidency
"…The prime minister’s most admirable performance came not at the start of his presidency but at the end, on December 20, when he reported back to MEPs after the critical meeting of the European Council the previous week.
"On this occasion Blair had to explain and justify the agreement on the EU’s multi-annual financial framework for the period 2007-13. For Blair it was much more than a public relations outing because the parliament has the power to approve or reject the package proposed by the European Council and, within certain parameters, to adjust figures between headings.
"His presentation – which skilfully mixed confidence and contrition - was admirable, not just for its content, but also for the way in which he bashed ‘reactionaries’ and derided ‘commentators’."
So Austria wants to review the EU constitution. I wrote in the Guardian on the subject:
"The reasons which led all 25 governments to agree that our enlarged EU needs a new rulebook have not simply disappeared. …
"The French "no" campaigners argued that rejecting the constitutional treaty would lead to a re-negotiation where the text could be "improved" - although they did not all agree on what those improvements might be. Nonetheless, it is clear that their intention was to kill the text but not the process - and possibly not all of the text.
"According to the most recent opinion polls, 64% of Dutch and 65% of French people want the constitution to be re-negotiated rather than killed off.
"In that sense, the ball is in the court of France and of the Netherlands. It is up to those countries to say exactly what it is they consider necessary in order for the process to be revived. If they consider that there is no scope whatsoever for agreeing anything along the lines of the constitutional treaty, they must say so and save the rest of us a lot of time."
The BBC were yesterday trumpeting a Radio 4 poll which produced some very odd results. The poll, organised by the Today programme's 'Who Runs Your World' season, apparently found that 22% of listeners believed Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, to be “the most powerful man in the UK”.
"the BBC did not say how many votes it received and there were signs that the number might have been quite small. Voters had to be keen enough to check into the Today programme website and were encouraged to make their own comments when they did. The last messages left before the final count were five days old and only one person wrote in to comment on the result yesterday."The plot thickens.
“The UK Independence Party admitted yesterday that it tried to rig the poll on the Today programme to find out who runs Britain. … UKIP and Dan Hannan, the fiercely eurosceptic Conservative MEP, both admitted to the Guardian that they had separately sent e-mails encouraging supporters to vote for Mr Barroso. … Mr Hannan said last night: ‘I had no idea UKIP were doing it. I was going to take sole credit for it.’”So the mystery is solved, and another instance of UKIP’s media strategy lies exposed. All rather embarrassing for the BBC, of course, but sadly no surprise for those of us more accustomed to eurosceptic propaganda tactics. I won’t hold my breath for an apology from Mr Knapman, who, let’s not forget, claimed to find the results “quite shocking”.
“Politics should be done through rational argument, not by manipulating the media.”
The UK Presidency ended as the clocks chimed in the New Year, and it's worth evaluating what was achieved. The balance sheet is surprisingly positive; surprising, that is, compared to the assessments of many of the armchair commentators whose agenda precludes them from saying anything positive about the government or the EU.