“In Europe but not run by Europe”. Those were the words of William Hague when he was the unsuccessful leader of the Tory Party. But what does it mean? Nothing. The Europhobes would dearly like it to mean “We are being controlled by an outside force”. What they don’t say is how Eurosceptic (I hate using that word) MEPs try to sabotage the European Parliament while continuing to take a salary (over £86,000 + expenses) from the very institution they are pledged to abolish. The worst of these offenders is Daniel Hannan, whose obsession with all things EU makes him something of a self-parody.
It’s hard to imagine a larger question in British politics than whether we should be in the EU. Depending on how you measure it, between 50 and 84 per cent of our laws come from Brussels. The curtailment of our democracy was at first seen as the price for being part of a prosperous and growing market; but it now seems clear that the EU is sinking, dragging us with it like so many chained galley-slaves.
Hyperbole and nonsense. The key sentence is ” Depending on how you measure it, between 50 and 84 per cent of our laws come from Brussels”, Naturally, he doesn’t tell us which ones. I guess he must be referring to the one about the shape of bananas or other similar tales spouted by the Tory-controlled press.
How will the palaeo-reporters of the MSM cover the story? I have a sinking feeling that it will be framed in the paltriest and most irrelevant way as ‘EU causes headache for Conservatives’.
But it’s true and the Tory Party, who were riven with splits over the EU during John Major’s premiership are likely to be split again. Hannan would like us to believe that his beloved party is united over Europe and that the ‘evil’ BBC is trying to split them up. Nothing could be further from the truth.
On Thursday, he was beside himself with joy. The Commons will vote on Monday to offer a referendum to the British electorate as to whether the country stays in the European Union. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, we’ve already had the referendum. It took place in 1975 and the British people voted in favour. Of course, the Europhobes will tell us that we didn’t vote for a European Parliament but a trade agreement. But this is what the EEC morphed into and Britain was happy to go along with the project.
He urges people to sign the so-called “People’s Pledge”. I had a look at the link he provided and was led to this site.
Their ‘case’ is as follows:
There are 5 key reasons why we must have a referendum on Britain and the EU:
- No one under the age of 54 has had the chance to vote on our relationship with Brussels
- The EU now makes a majority of the laws we must obey
- The UK has less than 10% of the votes in the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament
- The EU is costing Britain more and more money
- The EU wants to give itself new powers of ‘economic governance’
With regards to the first point, I’ve never had a say on a variety of things that have been enacted by reactionary Tory governments: the carving up of the NHS; the sale of council homes and the cuts in public spending. Yet, these obsessives think that a referendum on the EU is more important than any of those things.
On the second point, I’d like to know which laws they are referring to. But they seem reluctant to tell us. I can only guess. As for the third point, that’s down to Britain’s constant undermining of the EU by the Tories. The fourth point, is moot and the last point presumably relates to the Euro. It’s in Britain’s interests to participate fully in the EU and its institutions instead of behaving like a reluctant bridegroom at a shotgun wedding. The EU is only as good as it member states and moaning about this aspect or that aspect of the EU is pointless and unproductive. If you don’t like something, then work to change it.
There is a small Britisher mentality to all of this. Some Europhobes clearly lament the demise of the British Empire and long for its return but there no chance of that happening. As I’ve indicated elsewhere, many of those Tory Europhobes want to scrap human rights and workplace legislation because they believe that it has a deleterious impact on the economy. What they don’t say is that they want license to exploit others for financial gain.
Looking at the faces of those who support the People’s Pledge I can see that the former Labour shadow cabinet minster, Bryan Gould is a signatory. But what the people behind this ‘pledge’ haven’t told us is that Gould lives in New Zealand and has lived there since 1994. The SNP’s Jim Sillars is also included and is listed as “Deputy Leader of the SNP”, a role that he left in 1992 after he’d fallen out with Alex Salmond. There are other “former” Labour MPs and a former “finance director” of the party, which makes me think there’s something rather suspicious about the People’s Pledge. The choice of name is also rather interesting and suggests that there is a consensus but this a presumed consensus, possibly even a manufactured consensus.
It’s not clear exactly how many people are encamped next to St Paul’s Cathedral. Most estimates put the number at between 200 and 400, depending on precisely what time of day you do the headcount.
He doesn’t actually know what he’s talking about and I doubt that he’s bothered to visit the occupation. His is a position of wilful ignorance.
What is clear is that there are presently many more people in Westminster demanding a referendum on EU membership than in the City complaining about capitalism.
Second, he claims that “many more people in Westminster are demanding a referendum” but he doesn’t tell us how many and, at any rate, the point that he tries to make is irrelevant. There are many more people around the country, who are not taking part in the occupations who agree that the system needs to change. Furthermore the protests aren’t confined to Britain; they are taking place all over the world. Yet, Hannan dishonestly claims that there is a greater consensus for a referendum on the EU.
It will be interesting to compare the amount of coverage generated by the two protests. Will the People’s Pledge get ten times as much attention as the anti-capitalist sit-in, on the basis of the number of people at Westminster? Or perhaps 500 times more, on the basis of the number who signed the petition? Or will the MSM continue to cover the referendum wholly as a ‘Tory splits’ story? I think we all know the answer.
This is both a smear on the #Occupy movement and an attack on the BBC. He’s obsessed with the EU (have a look at all his blog posts for the Torygraph and you’ll see that at least 90% of them are about the EU). But there is something else: like his fellow right wingers, he paints the protesters as some kind of ‘enemy within’ and claims that they don’t have an argument. This is wilful ignorance. He is a committed neoliberal and like his fellow travellers, he wants more of the same. This is why people are occupying public spaces in financial districts around the world. Then he tries to paint the BBC as the villain by suggesting that only the Beeb is responsible for opening up deep rifts in the Tory party. Hannan is suffering from selective memory syndrome and, as anyone will tell you, the splits over the EU have been around for over 20 years and almost brought the Major government to its knees.
I find Europhobes to be small-minded and obsessive. I would even go so far as to suggest that their obsession with the EU is pathological. Whatever happens, the vote in the Commons tomorrow is likely to deepen the splits in the Tory party with some of their MPs threatening to defy a three-line whip on the vote. Cameron’s position looks precarious. However, if Cameron is weakened, will we see a leadership challenge from Hannan? Well, he needs to find a safe seat first before he can do that. He can’t become leader while he’s in Strasbourg and this must piss him off.
Good. Long may he be pissed off.
If there is a referendum, I will vote to stay in the EU but I want to see the EU reformed so that it works for the benefit of all its people not just the few, like the bankers and other parasites.
This country will be a much worse place to live than it is now if we left Europe while the Tories are power. That isn’t hyperbole. It’s the truth.