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Nosemonkey's EUtopia

In search of a European identity

Why voting for a eurosceptic party is a good thing for the EU

I’ve done a lot of UKIP bashing on this blog over the last six years. I’ve ridiculed and attempted to debunk numerous eurosceptic claims. After all, I think that the idea of European Union (in its broadest possible sense) is a good thing, and I firmly believe that as long as some form of European economic/political organisation exists it is in Britain’s (and every European country’s) best interest to be a part of it. I also hope that, down the line, such international/supranational cooperation can be expanded far beyond Europe’s borders. Nationalism is, for me, an outmoded way of doing business, and detrimental to the best interests of the people of all nations – just as are all exclusionary ideologies, be they racist, sexist, homophobic or whatever. I am an internationalist and a humanist – again, both in their broadest possible sense – and so cannot support what I see as the parochialism of the nationalist/”patriotic” parties of right or left.

However, despite my dislike of UKIP, the BNP and other withdrawalist/anti-EU parties (of which these are the principle two in the UK), anti-EU and eurosceptic voices have a vital role to play.

The makeup of the European Parliament during the last five years has been sorely unrepresentative. Its racial makeup is nowhere close to mirroring that of Europe as a whole, with groups with sizable minorities left with nothing like the percentages of MEPs that one would expect, were the EP to mirror European society. Women are, as in most democratic societies, still hugely under-represented at EU level; there are few openly gay MEPs; few Muslims; only one Roma MEP despite this group being one of the largest and most persecuted of Europe’s minorities.

Eurosceptics – using the term in its broadest sense – are also sorely under-represented. The no votes in France, the Netherlands and Ireland are proof that there is a groundswell of discontent with the present EU system, and this discontent sorely needs to be aired more frequently in the European Parliament. Do a trawl of the blogs and you’ll soon see that even the most pro-EU bloggers will often violently criticise all kinds of aspects of the way the EU currently runs, from the obvious travesties – like the Common Agricultural and Common Fisheries Policies – through to issues of democratic representation (it takes 800,000 Germans to elect one MEP as opposed to just 80,000 Maltese, for example). With the EU still seriously under-reported in almost every member state, and with so few sceptical voices around to form an opposition – one of the most essential elements of any healthy democratic system – little wonder that there is so much public frustration. The worries of the people are not, in the eyes of the people, being addressed.

The EU is currently in a period of crisis. The failure of the 2001 Treaty of Nice to resolve the transition to a union of 25 rather than 15 was followed by the failure of the Constitution and Lisbon Treaty to mop up the mess, yet now the Union is of 27, with yet more queueing up to join. The EU is now a Union of half a billion people, one of the largest and most powerful economic blocs in the world, and yet is working on mechanisms designed for a much, much smaller organisation. Resentment has been building for years – not just among the people, but also among the governments that head up the member states. The Treaty of Nice, the Constitution, the Lisbon Treaty – these were all meant to resolve these tensions, and all have failed.

Even if the Lisbon Treaty does end up coming into force, still countless problems remain unsolved. There are still some member states that long for closer political union, while others desire little more than a trading bloc based on the Common Market; the current system of budget contributions still sees relatively wealthy western European member states receive far more funding than the struggling post-communist newcomers of the East. France, one of the richest member states, still receives a hugely disproportionate chunk of Common Agricultural Policy money, while farmers in Romania struggle by on little more than a subsistence level. And all the while, there remains no consensus on where the EU is heading – on what the EU is actually for.

Over the next five years – Lisbon Treaty or no Lisbon Treaty – these problems are all going to have to be addressed, and it is the MEPs who we are meant to be electing in a couple of weeks’ time who are going to have to scrutinise the plans and proposals that are put forward to resolve them. If the European Parliament is made up of a majority of unthinking europhiles, of fervent internationalists, then this scrutiny is not going to be intensive enough. Imagine a House of Commons made up of 80% Labour or Conservative MPs. That would not be healthy for democracy, but more importantly it would not be the kind of check that is necessary to prevent bad legislation and bad constitutional reforms from being passed. But with the lack of eurosceptic voices in the European Parliament, that is effectively the situation we have at the moment.

We sorely need more critical voices if the EU is ever going to become the kind of genuinely positive force that it could – and should – be. We need more MEPs like Danish eurosceptic Jens-Peter Bonde (now sadly retired, though still active in the field of EU politics), and even like UKIP leader Nigel Farage – intelligent, sharp critics of the project who can home in on flaws and highlight things that the EU is doing wrong. Yes, they may have a tendency to over-egg the pudding, to play to the gallery, and to blow things out of all proportion to make petty political points – but they also highlight genuine concerns and, often, genuine problems.

If we don’t know the problems – and if these problems are not brought into the light – then abuses and mistakes will simply continue unnoticed. Until, that is – as British MPs have found during the last few weeks of the expenses scandal – something happens that shows just how bad the problem has got, and brings the entire system to the brink of collapse.

If you don’t listen to criticism, you deserve to fail. So though I may not agree with the anti-EU brigade, and though I will continue to mock them when they make mistakes and call them when they make unjustifiable claims, they have an essential part to play. They are the EU’s opposition, and in any respectable political system a vocal opposition is something to be encouraged, not suppressed. Even if they are wrong.

39 Comments

  1. Sure, you’re completely right. No doubt.

    The problem is that EU-sceptic parties’ critique to anything the EU does can easily be discredited as if it was just done to harm the Union, as a matter of principle and not as a constructive approach to make the Union better, even when they are right.

    I think we will need heavily EU-critical parties with a true love to the basic idea of such a supranational entity. So far, this critique too often comes from the extremes, but it needs to comes from the centres of the political spectrum, to make it more credible.

    But maybe those political forces will first need the EU-sceptic pitbulls to smooth the way before they get their window of opportunity to make the EU a better polity than it is today…

  2. There is very little skeptic about the anti-Europeans you seem to long for, Nosemonkey, despite living in a counry where Europhiles are the rare exceptions.

    You tell us that the Constitutional Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty have failed to address the real problems, but nothing tells me that a multiplication of Nigel Farages in the European Parliament is going to solve anything.

    Julien Frisch mentions the real need: for radical, constructive criticism of the status quo and for proposals for an effective and legitimate EU.

  3. A very reasoned arguement, IF the EP had actually been democratically constituted by the majority of the voting public. But it wasn’t and owning to the rejections it has had to every matter put to the public about it, it still isn’t.
    What your are after is like asking how do we make a lie into the truth?
    You know that answer, you can’t, you can only keep on lying.

    Unfortunately you keep plugging away attempting to create something resembling representitive democracy in an animal reminisent of something created by Dr. Moreau. It can’t be done, and will revert back to what is was, an imposition by our own so called democrats who feel the need to tinker with nature and become kings of the abominable.

    As for who I will vote for, it certainly won’t be for anything human, I will register my disgust by spoiling my vote. Any humourous suggestions will be gratefully appreciated, as NO2EU is now a political entity in Britain.

  4. Julien – you’re right, of course. The danger is always that even sensible anti-EU points will be dismissed as the ravings of the lunatic fringe. But the respect generally shown to Jens-Peter Bonde in Brussels is, I hope, a sign that principled, reasoned arguments can be taken seriously. The trouble is, there tend to be rather more over-the-top rants than reasoned critiques, because the rants play better to the electorate. Still, in the short term perhaps a few more ranty eurosceptics may draw the more reasoned ones out of the woodwork?

    Ralf – don’t confuse the British anti-EU types that are knocking around online with the majority of British eurosceptics. Withdrawalists are MASSIVELY over-represented in the online world (just as are libertarians – a fringe group in the real world, but a dominant force on the political web). The majority of British eurosceptics are of a much milder breed – they accept the need for EU membership, but dislike various things about the way it is run (poll after poll after poll demonstrates this to be more or less a majority position in the UK). The problem is that they also rarely engage in EU politics in any way, bar the occasional moan – most don’t even bother to vote in EU elections. We need more of these reluctant Europeans to raise their voices – and if a few Nigel Farages are what’s needed to raise the number of people participating in the debate, then this should only be a good thing.

    William – sorry, not sure what your “IF” is for. I’m talking about the future of the European Parliament and EU, while you seem to be focussed on the past. Political systems can ALWAYS be changed – and I’m increasingly hopeful of some kind of realisation among the powers that be that the EU needs fundamental change if it is to survive (it won’t happen for a few more years yet, for sure, but it’s getting nearer). More critical voices can surely only hasten this realisation.

    Vote spoiling, however, I can understand. With the electoral system we have for EP elections forcing us to vote for a party rather than a person, and with a serious dearth of respectable political parties in the UK at the moment, I’m still not sure if I’ll bother voting myself – and vote spoiling is a far more constructive contribution than simply not turning up.

  5. Nosemonkey,

    If the British peoplke were told the full truth about the EU I think they would move from sceptical to wholly withdrawalist. Being told for the last 35 years by succesive governments that we had to be in to save 3 million jobs (?), most of our trade (?) and how a war would be caused if we were out does have an effect . When carefully scrutinised, we find the claims for membership are untrue.

  6. My problem with your thoughts on the EU can be summed up thus. You think it would be good to have a European government and eventually a World government. I think that the bigger the government the smaller the people. The bigger the system, the more room for corruption.

    What you call for is not more democracy but less. I like local democracy and I will vote for a person who represents that.

    The anger felt by people such as myself is that we have less and less influence over our own lives. Voting for our local councillor is a waste of time because policy for my city is dictated by a Regional Development Agency with instructions based on EU strategies. Voting for people to go to the British parliament to make laws on my behalf is a waste of time because laws made in the EU parliament can override those laws. It is absolutely no wonder that people are just ignoring the EU elections as totally irrelevant.

    I also hate the idea of self-important lawyers and bureaucrats making laws for a corporatist EU that impinge on the freedoms and rights of the worker. I am a free person not a member of an ant colony. To hell with this incestuous, self-feeding, self-serving bubble. Lets tear it down and begin from the bottom up this time.

  7. Robin – Some of the claims made by some pro-EU types are untrue/distortions, for sure. But so are a significant chunk of the counter-claims made by the anti-EU crowd. The trouble is, it’s impossible to weigh up a cost/benefit analysis of EU membership – there are simple too many unknowns.

    Just as one example (all the following questions are, I reckon, unanswerable, by the way), if the EU didn’t exist, would the UK still have regulations about the size and shape of fruit and vegetables? Would other European countries to which our farmers and other producers around the world export? I’d say it’s likely – food standards have become an increasingly important concern world-wide during the last 30-40 years. How much additional hassle and expense would this cost – and so can this be put down as a saving/benefit, or is there no way of knowing? Can the fact that current food standards often originate from the EU mean that the costs/benefits of them be attributed to the EU, or would such standards have been introduced anyway during the period the UK has been a member, as they have in (e.g.) the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and so on?

    WG – I think you misunderstand my position – we’re actually a lot closer in outlook than you may think. I don’t see national-level governance as a sensible one (it’s largely an arbitrary historical accident that states are the size they are – it makes no sense from a governmental point of view); I’d like to see national-level government (largely) replaced with far more localism, with international/supranational organisations overseeing those areas where international/supranational cooperation makes sense. It’s an extreme form of the subsidiarity principle – to me it makes little sense for the South East and North West of England to be governed from Westminster as if they were similar, when they’re patently quite different; so I’d scrap (most of) the Westminster layer of government, give power to the regions, and handle any broader issues of trade, cross-border crime, etc. etc. at a wider transnational level.

    And yes, I’m fully aware that this isn’t how the EU currently works. But it is only half a century old – it’s just an infant, with plenty of time to mature into something more useful and sensible.

  8. Nosemonkey,

    The ISO at Geneva seem to work quite well on a voluntary basis, helping trade worldwide. No shovelling of our money into that, no rigged markets against us, no tiers of bureacrats and commisioners, no expense scams on a large scale, no dilution of democracy.
    Still no reason for us to be in the EU.

  9. What a strange argument, Nosemonkey. You say it is illogical to have a central British government because the needs of the southeast are different from the northwest. You then go on to say that there should be transnational bodies that would then be able to administer smaller regions. How would they be any better at recognising different regional needs than Westminster?

    The two opposing sides of this argument, open borders, supranational government versus national self-government and sovereign control, are most probably the beginnings of the next civil unrest leading to possibly a larger conflict.

    I don’t see a way of stopping it. I will not give up my sovereignty and right to govern myself. I also approve of the fight back of ordinary working people in Britain against migrant workers replacing us in our jobs. There are those on the other side who are equally determined to dragoon me into a EU state. We are never going to agree; where it matters is when push comes to shove.

    One thing I have learned is that when the individual comes up against the EU the individual loses every time. We are powerless. With the BNP waiting in the wings, seemingly, holding the freedom and power we so cherish there is huge potential for strife.

    One thing I know is that people generally don’t seem to care. I have just been delivering leaflets for UKIP and the people I meet on the streets all tell me that they are not at all interested in the European Union elections. Knowing your personal choice of not voting, and knowing that I feel exactly the same and would not vote except for a feeling of loyalty to my fellow UKIPers, I don’t know if I find this disinterest disturbing or not.

  10. Robin – No, the EU doesn’t need to be run in the way that it is, and its fundamentals could be done for a lot less money, but the reason to be in the EU is, as far as I’m concerned, simple: it exists. As long as it exists, it makes sense to be a part of it, rather than merely have to abide by its rules without having any say in their formation (as is the case with the likes of Norway, Switzerland and Iceland).

    WG – I think you misunderstand me. I’m not advocating European-level governance for the day-to-day running of the various smaller regional governmental units that I’d like to see rise up (nor am I advocating the South East or North West as ideal units, for that matter) – just for issues that it makes sense to run at a larger geographical scale: trade, energy policy, environmental, some security issues, etc. etc.

    You’re entirely right that the lack of interest of the man/woman in the street is the biggest problem for both sides in this EU debate, though. Both sides are convinced that if the people knew more, the people would support their cause. But the people neither know nor care. Until we have an informed electorate, an informed choice can’t be made – this is precisely why I get so annoyed at the lies and distortions that continue to crop up about the EU. Both sides are guilty of this – claims are made that simply cannot be supported by the available evidence, be it the supposed costs of membership from the anti-side, or the EU/EEC’s integral role in creating peace in Europe on the other.

    As far as I see it, though, the EU does exist, so we need to make the best of it. Because I remain entirely unconvinced of the practicalities of withdrawal – not just the vast expense of pulling out (it really wouldn’t be as simple as just saying “right, we’re done – bye!” and ceasing to contribute to the budget), but also the ramifications for trade and industry, travel, British workers abroad and EU workers in the UK, our diplomatic relations with the remaining EU states, not to mention the time and effort that would need to go in to checking and repealing/revising all the legislation that has supposedly come from the EU, and that is supposedly so harmful to Britain. And that’s just a few areas that would need to be resolved off the top of my head after a rather alcohol-fuelled Bank Holiday weekend. There are countless others.

    (As a largely irrelevant aside on the sovereignty issue, I hate to be pedantic, but you don’t have any right to govern yourself, not if you’re British. Sovereignty lies with parliament; before that it lay with the monarch; it has never, in this country, been with the people – not in any legal/constitutional sense. The few rights we do have stem from the UN Declaration on Human Rights, to which Britain is a signatory, and the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, to which we have also signed up. But thanks to the nature of the British system, these are still not 100% binding, as no parliament can be bound by a previous one – hence the government having been able to opt out of various parts of the international human rights documents to which we have signed up during the last few years in the name of battling terrorism (the whole detention without trial business, as well as deportation to countries that practice torture, complicity in extraordinary rendition, and so on), and hence that supposedly sacrosanct document the Magna Carta having been almost entirely repealed and replaced over the years.)

  11. Nosemonkey,

    You want to be in something because it exists ?!?
    Well sometimes that might be harmless, like in a model railway society, or knitting cicle . But in something like the EU.! Why not join the Ku Klux Klan ? It exists. And you can try to “influence” it, have a say in it, change it`s articles of membership etc etc etc.

  12. The European Convention (not Charter) on Human Rights is a treaty. Once signed, it is not the whim of the current parliament to accept its provisions – at least not without withdrawing. It is an international agreement.

    The best bit about the ECHR is that it has a built-in defence mechanism – signatories agree to abide by the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. (Note that when the government passed the ECHR into UK law as the Human Rights Act, they removed the key passage – Article 13 – which forces the authorities to provide an effective remedy to human rights abuses. In order to get effective remedy, you still need to go to the European Court.)

    Bizarrely enough, the terrorism laws are compatible with the ECHR. This is a very legalistic document which provides get-out clauses at every step for governments to ignore the provisions for security reasons or in emergencies. All you need is a paranoid government that sees danger where nobody else sees it and these laws come in. They can’t get away with it forever. They’ve already been slapped down for internment – they promptly instituted house arrest as an alternative. 28 days, 42 days, etc – these will all be found wrong, but they can spin out the legal process indefinitely by offering half solutions and going into the next round.

    Ultimately, if the government wants to fulfill its international obligations, it has to abide by the treaty and the decisions of the court. That’s not a feature of parliament though, it’s just the actions of an authoritarian government trying to get away with as much as possible.

    The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights is much more of a feel-good document. It’s great and it sets out the concept of human rights very well. But it’s too vague – the USSR was also a signatory and could argue that it fulfilled the requirements. There are no legal clauses and no comebacks. There are various other points of UN law that go some way to expressing what it allowed and what is not, but the UDHR is not a legal document and signing it is just an expression of good faith.

    Sorry for only commenting on an aside of a comment, but I don’t have the knowledge to comment on your main post and without that, my opinion is not of great value. I enjoy reading your blog however.

  13. Leaving the EU would be a big step yes, but not to even think about it is like the Commie countries staying in Warsaw Pact because anything else is a big step. At some time it has to be done, probably the sooner the better.
    There will be some ramifications about trade, but we import more than we export, so it`s in their interest as much as ours to make everything go smoothly ,especially in a depression. Any workers abroad are more likely to be the high tech workers needed, rather than the unskilled and semi skilled that have come here, so there should be no problem there,travel would probably be no problem as it`s more to do with modern ease than passpoert control (and if controls were in, no more immigration problems.
    The WTO and other trade agrrements would smooth the way.
    Repealing and revising laws would at least give our MPs something to do for the money they`ve taken (not everything will need revoking straight away ).
    As regards our sovereignty, it worked before.

  14. hinschelwood – don’t worry about lack of knowledge – this is the internet, after all. And it’s a political blog. It’s practically a tradition not to know what you’re talking about in such circumstances. (In any case, the more participants in these little discussions the better – differing perspectives always add to a debate, even if it’s just asking questions to prompt others into fresh ideas.)

    Robin – I don’t suppose you’ve got any data to support your “unskilled and semi-skilled that come here” assertion, do you? Bar tabloid scare stories about Polish plumbers (plumbing arguably a highly skilled job in any case) and made-up nonsense about Romanians/Hungarians/Bulgarians/whoever coming over to scrounge off our dole money (a load of nonsense), I’ve seen little indication of non-UK EU immigrants being unskilled. Most tend to be highly educated high earners, from what I’ve seen.

  15. Nosemonkey,

    Well I`m not moving around City of London offices much , but I talk to migrant workers on building sites, agricultural fields, factories, warehouses etc and they tend mainly to be unskilled.
    So our empirical evidence looks different. How many do you meet who are NOT paying taxes ?
    Regarding Romanians/ Bulgarians – why are they working here on building sites and why are they given NI numbers ? That is not the stated government policy. So once again we have our civil servants making unacountable decisions and once again the EU is the basis of it.
    Why also are you able to see RO/ BG/ AL citizens going into jobcentres ?
    Far from being “scare stories” these look like covered up stories.

  16. Like many (most?) I fully expect the Lisbon Treaty to be forced through and soon after for it to pupate into an EU constitution (how predictable). Then “ever closer Union” will become “ever greater illegitimacy”. Some are beginning to ask if the eurosceptics should be taking up their seats at all. At some point the eurosceptism you’re so keen to see more of, will become outright hostility and anger.

  17. AdamP – Don’t you want the Lisbon Treaty to be accepted though? It provides a clear mechanism for leaving the EU. Would you accept it for that reason?

  18. An exit at a cost few EU countries would, realistically, be in a position to pay.

    But to answer your question specifically – no. The Irish rejected the Lisbon Treaty (aka the EU constitution) and that vote has NOT been respected. Furthermore as it would be a major constitutional change it is not legitimate to waive it through without a referendum. Any passage of time and subsequent treaties will make no difference, it will only multiple the original offence.

  19. I find it quite amazing that you do not mention, in your list of eurosceptic MEPs, Daniel Hannan – the possibly most articulate and intelligent eurosceptic out there.

  20. Oh, for sure – Hannan can be very good indeed when he’s on form. He was very good on Question Time the other day, for instance. He does, however, have a tendency to always believe the worst about the EU – for example, on Question Time he mentioned the “84% of laws come from the EU” claim, despite this being utterly unsupported by any evidence, and a claim made for a country other than the UK in any case. The EU has a lot wrong with it, certainly – but to claim that *EVERYTHING* it does is bad and wrong is so dogmatic an approach as to seem almost fanatical. And, as a rule, fanatics are best ignored or sidelined.

    If Hannan confined himself to claims that can actually be backed up with facts, with his obvious intelligence and ability to form an articulate and convincing argument he’d do a far better job of winning people round to his point of view.

    As it is, he has a tendency to wander off into the realms of fantasy while often painting himself as some kind of martyr – this can make him come across as a bit of a nutter at times, and so he ends up mostly preaching to the converted. Hannan’s certainly mostly ignored in Brussels, even when he has good points to make. Jens-Peter Bonde, on the other hand, was rather more restrained in his approach, and was taken rather more seriously. Hyperbole may play well with the masses, but it won’t get you anywhere in the corridors of power – and this is why the eurosceptic parties and politicians have, so far, made so little positive impact.

    So yes, Hannan is sometimes very good, and I often find myself respecting the guy. But he hasn’t quite got the approach right yet, which is a shame. As long as eurosceptics rant from the sidelines rather than actively engaging and working to change (or even bring down) the EU from within, they aren’t going to get anywhere, and will remain fringe groups that struggle to reach 19% of the vote even in a European election with dire turnout – as UKIP are finding now, even with the boost of the MP expenses scandal.

  21. Well I am not sure how much evidence you want? It has been reiterated hundreds of times in the Houses of Parliament, several think tanks have come to the same conclusion; roughly 80-85% of British laws are derived in Brusssels.

    Why do you think last year Labour blocked the legislation which would have made it transparent from whence the laws to be discussed were derived.

    But perhaps the most significant evidence comes from the German constitutional court who after significant research reached the conclusion that 80% of German laws come from the EU. Do you think this would be even remotely different in Britain? We are more eurosceptic certainly but we do not have the backbone to back that euroscepticism up, as of now, so directives are being gold plated through treaties day after day.

    When the party that is leading gets 29% of the vote and UKIP sits of 19% I think that is a pretty good indicator that something is stiring in the electorate. Not to mention, sadly, that BNP will likely win a few seats. What I mean to say is that if you are trailing the leading party with 10% five days ahead of the election then you are doing pretty good.

    Naturally they remain fringe group, Britain only commands 4% of the parliament and we are the most eurosceptic country in the EU. Hence the only proper opposition to the project is going to come from here since everyone else does not mind their countries’ parliament being sidelined in favour of European legilsation.

  22. It seems a shame that Nosemonkey thinks Hannan is popular with ordinary people but this is irrelevant unless he can work within powerful people in the corridors of power. That shows again the democratic deficit of the EU.

  23. I don’t see how, Robin. That’s the case in every political system in the history of the world, democratic or otherwise. Or do you think that it’s unique to the corridors of the EU institutions that a man who spends much of his time verbally abusing everyone around him is shunned by the people he attacks and ends up sidelined?

    Hannan is an intelligent chap with some good, reasoned eurosceptic analysis. But he appears to prefer to preach to the converted than work within the system to both make that system better and win people over to his point of view. Bonde, on the other hand, while being a vocal critic of the EU throughout his time as an MEP, worked within the system that he disliked, and so ended up with both the respect of his political opponents and making some genuinely useful contributions to his cause.

    It’s all very well saying “Better off out” all the time, but given that the UK is not going to withdraw from the EU any time soon, our eurosceptic MEPs would do far more good to their cause to learn how to affect change within the current system, and at least make the EU a little bit better before they get their way and have us leave once and for all. A few political victories within the EP would also be powerful evidence to counter their opponents’ claims that they never do anything to advance the will of those anti-EU voters who elected them, but just turn up to claim their generous allowances.

  24. Nosemonkey,

    Even if every political system in the world for all ages have been so, it`s not a good fact and we should be working to change that, or at least minimise its effects (so naturally being out of the EU is a step in the right direction).
    As you are more “in ” with the corridors of power, can you tell us howw we EUrosceptics can achieve our aims in the EU Parliament and the rest of the system ? Then we can make our MEPs of all parties do mre for those generoous allowances.

  25. Not sure how I could be considered “more ‘in’ with the corridors of power”, exactly, but I’d say it’s pretty much common sense. If you act as if you are willing to engage and contribute constructive criticism (as Bonde did), then you are more likely to get somewhere than if you just criticise and shout from the sidelines (as the majority of anti-EU MEPs tend to do). UKIP’s entire campaign is based on negatives (“No to X, Y and Z”), and the entire withdrawalist argument is based on the defeatist assumption that reform is impossible.

    Granted, reform is – in the current set-up – very difficult; but MEPs do have the ability (indeed, it’s their job) to voice concerns and offer alternatives. If eurosceptic/anti-EU MEPs spot an upcoming EU law that they feel is a bad idea, they are fully capable of raising and explaining their concerns.

    If they raise these concerns in a calm, clear manner, there’s every chance that other MEPs (as well as others in the Council and Commission) might listen to them, and that they may have a positive impact on its reform or rejection, thus making the EU slightly less terrible. But their tendency to date has been to shout loudly and forcibly about pretty much everything that the EU does – which means that their valid points (of which they have many) get lost amongst the noise. A calmer, more targeted opposition could work wonders – both for the reputations of eurosceptic/anti-EU parties and for making the EU better than it is. (Which should, surely, also be an aim of eurosceptic/anti-EU parties – if it’s terrible, try to improve it, so that people’s lives are improved, even if only slightly.)

  26. Nosemonkey,

    well you`re certianly more “in” than I would be because you are on side with those who support the project (and you get mentioned on Margot Wallstroms blog ).
    If you dont beleive in an organisation and that organisation knows you are totally against it I cant see it being easy to be anything other than like the EUrosceptics as you describe. If I may go back to that analogy about the Ku Klux Klan, would you work within it to slowly turn it round to a beneficial organisation, or moderate its lynchings policy ?

  27. It’s not a particularly fair analogy, in that the KKK are not, nor ever have been, in a position of power. A fairer analogy would be the republican Northern Irish MPs (Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and co), who have repeatedly been returned to the Westminster parliament despite denying that it has any right to rule. The Sinn Fein MPs, of course, don’t turn up to vote – yet still (as we’ve seen in the Telegraph’s revelations in recent weeks, though much of their claims were known before) manage to claim their salaries and expenses.

    So, were I a republican Northern Irishman and I got elected to the Westminster parliament, would I try and work within it to achieve my objective of independence? Yes, I’d like to think that I would. Sinn Fein could have achieved far more far more quickly working within the system – as they have discovered during the last few years when the Stormont Assembly has been in place. Have they got complete independence? No. Because they are not a majority – just as people who want Britain to pull out of the EU altogether are not a majority. They have, however, managed to achieve a broad range of concessions and compromises that have made life in Northern Ireland infinitely more pleasant for everyone concerned.

  28. Nosemonkey,

    But – I think I have read where you say the EU parliament does not really have much power .
    Fair enough though the Sinn Fein may be a better analogy. Another But is (1) They had the back up of terror (2) They are dealing with a more reasonable power and more democratic.
    One way to work out how people feel about the EU is to have referenda, but the EU elite are against that.

  29. This is a good article. I really enjoy reading up on your views. What I don’t understand is why so many Britons are so strongly euro-sceptic. Take the “Have your say” forum on the BBC News website for example: http://newsforums.bbc.co.uk/nol/thread.jspa?forumID=6556&edition=1&ttl=20090608102256
    The first 30 of the most highly recommended comments are all in favour of us leaving the EU, while the rest of Europe on the other hand has been voting for parties in favour of a federal Europe.

    Perhaps it is as you said in a previous post that the Brits just don’t see themselves as being European. Perhaps if we were ALL invaded by the Nazi’s and then somehow managed to fight back, we might share a common bond with our brothers and sisters across the water. We should. We all come from the same place. Perhaps I just see things differently because I grew up in a different country to the one I live in now.

    Perhaps if all people were given the chance to live in a different country or culture for a few years, they might realise that an allegiance to our common humanity is by far a more powerful statement than an allegiance to something trivial like a nation with arbitrary borders.

    I have this sinking feeling though that the Brits will not be convinced otherwise. It seems likely now that we will get to vote on the Lisbon treaty before it is ratified. With David Cameron promoting against it, I see little chance of it coming into effect. I feel that Europe should just go ahead and create a federal state without us, at least then a bit more of the world will be united. Perhaps in years to come we will realise our mistake and apply to re-join.

  30. “common bond with our brothers and sisters across the water ”

    Sorry Steve but this is something you could read on Stormfront . What`s up with the rest of the world ?

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