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 What's New in 2005...

Voters gagged on Europe BRITAIN'S PHONEY ELECTION
"What's happened to Europe?" asked BBC Political correspondent Nick Assinder on 20.4.05. He observed that the issue had "virtually disappeared from the agenda". As the votes were being counted (6.5.05), France's 'Le Monde' went further, suspecting a tacit agreement between Britain's politicians, and concluding "The silence over Europe betrays a lack of confidence on the part of the main players".

Perhaps it is because about 70% of our laws are now decided by the EU, and they add major costs to public services like the NHS, denting their effectiveness. The electorate was served a bland diet of empty slogans, e.g. Michael Howard's "Accountability" and Charles Kennedy's "the REAL alternative".

Eight years ago, Tony Blair was cooing about the government being the servant and the people being the master, and how we should never forget it. (No wonder he wanted us to look forward not back....)

The truth is that voters were hardly allowed to have their say, as the BBC picked its 'bear garden' topics for Question Time (28.4.05) - like council tax, immigration and Iraq. It is just as well for Michael Howard that 'Europe' wasn't probed, as he would have had to reconcile his wish for 'controlled immigration' with encouraging Turkey to join the EU, giving potentially tens of millions virtually unlimited rights of access to the UK.

Charles Kennedy was spared having to explain why a party for more local decision-making should want the EU to call the shots over entry into the UK.

(Also the Green Party's allegation that he actually supported the Iraq war, but then the BBC did give a relatively easy ride to the leader of Britain's most pro-EU party).

On 5.5.05, some seats changed hands, but the government didn't change. It carries on in Brussels, Strasbourg, Luxembourg....

...still, the new Parliament is increasingly Eurosceptic and, in spite of the blackout, the number of votes for anti-EU candidates rose. If the Conservatives had been solidly pro-sovereignty across the country, they could have picked up maybe 33 extra seats, removing Blair's majority. (Read the full story from the BDI Campaign).

Nick Assinder's BBC article

The moment of the election was probably on Question Time when Tony Blair said that he had never told a lie in his life. He might like to tell us why New Labour has actually made it a crime to tell the truth. (The Gender Recognition Act forbids revealing that a sex-change person was really born in a different gender. Whereas this could merely make life 'interesting' for subscribers to dating agencies, it is not a good omen for the Government's commitment to truthfulness in the Constitution debate).

Europeans reject EU Swiss reject EU DENIS THE MENDACIOUS?
'Minister for Europe' Denis MacShane has been busy touring the UK and promoting the EU. In a speech at Queen Mary College, London, 14.03.05, he scorned talk of the UK becoming an off-shore Switzerland (which is a prosperous country outside the EU)

He claimed that the Swiss "have to pay hundreds of millions of Euros to Brussels for the privilege of doing business with the rest of Europe".

Not quite what the Swiss European Policy website says. They have voluntarily continued their support for former Communist countries now in the EU and rather than pay the EU, they decide on which projects to support - and claim that the aid (of approx 1% of Switzerland's large EU trade surplus) will benefit Swiss interests.

The Swiss relationship with the EU (and other non-EU countries in Europe) is essentially one of free trade. Even though they do adopt some EU rules, they are sovereign and free to end any unproductive agreements.

MacShane has also contradicted his Chancellor by claiming that 'only 9% of regulation comes from the EU'.

It may be true that only 9% of the UK's statutory instruments passed in the last five years were caused by EU legislation. The Chancellor's Budget figures are from the British Chambers of Commerce, which found that virtually half of the regulations affecting the economy were a result of EC legislation. A House of Commons Library study using the same figures put 80% of the cost of regulations (since 1998) down to the EU.

('Regulations' acknowledgement: Vote No campaign bulletin, 24.03.05)

Over £30,000 that could have paid for a nurse has gone to the spin-doctors in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. That is the cost of the design of a new logo for the UK's mid-2005 'Presidency of the EU'.

For those taxpayers who won't instantly understand their 'thirtygrand'sworth': "Swans fly in formation using a system of leadership and co-operation to fly more efficiently; this is an imaginative and clever metaphor for the EU"

Getting schoolchildren to draw something showing fat cats, thieving magpies or flightless EMUs might have been more instant, more appropriate and cost a lot less.

See for yourself: FCO 'Europe' site

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos was interviewed by the EU funded think-tank café babel (28.2.05).

When asked, "Does accepting the European Constitution mean a surrender of member states' sovereignty?" Moratinos replied "Absolutely. The member states have already relinquished control of certain economic and social competences, including justice, liberty and security. Now the difficult part is approaching: the giving up of sovereignty in the dual arenas of foreign affairs and defence."

He added, "The concept of traditional citizenship has been bypassed in the 21st Century. We are witnessing the last remnants of national politics" .

For a transcript (in English)

Hans Martin Bury, German Minister for Europe, dismissed claims by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw that the Constitution would "draw a line" under EU integration. Bury said, "The Constitution is not the end point of integration, but the framework for - as it says in the preamble - an ever closer union." (Die Welt, 25.2.05)

Mr Straw had claimed: "What this does is say 'this far and no further', and actually brings back influence to the nation states."

PM Tony Blair was more to the point in his November 2002 Cardiff speech, when he declared: "We must end the nonsense of 'this far and no further'." (Sun, 10.2.05).

Why you can't trust New Labour

Our Constitution mini-site index

New Labour peer, Lord Haskins, who is also Chairman of the federalist European Movement, was quoted by the Yorkshire Post (27.1.05) as criticising the decision to hold a referendum on the EU Constitution.

He believes that it is too complicated an issue to be left to voters. A moment's thought would show that in a general election, the public is asked to vote not just on Britain's relations with Europe, but on a range of other matters such as education, health, council tax levels, etc.

Maybe it's a sign that New Labour knows that the public is seeing through its spin?

The Spanish public may have endorsed the EU Constitution on a low turnout (42%), with nine out of ten polled admitting they had insufficient knowledge on the subject. However the British public will have maybe 12-18 months to consider the Constitution before voting.

After considering the arguments, the people of the North-East rejected regional government 78%-22% in November. Three months later, Edinburgh voters rejected their rulers' congestion charging proposals by 74%-26% - and these are supposedly Labour heartlands.

Our EU Constitution mini-site

In the run-up to the showdown on the EU Constitution, the European Commission is running a website that highlights myths and mis-reporting on the EU.

We don't doubt that some journalists occasionally get some details wrong, or even exaggerate to get a good story. - or that some sad civil servants make obeying European Directives even more bureaucratic and costly to British business.

However any fair debate would look at both sides of the coin. The Commission's initiative merely provides a diversion from the mass of painful evidence on:
  • the costs of the EU to ordinary people and businesses,
  • EU corruption and fraud,
  • how 'EU grants' buy compliance and silence (with taxpayers' money),
  • the EU's ambition to dictate our lives;
  • that there is a viable alternative to being 'ruled by Europe'.
You won't find much on BBC bias or Britain In Europe howlers on their site - so please explore ours and linked sites for referenced material, and judge for yourself.

Their 'Euromyths':

Richard North's blogspot response

'Vote No' campaign rebuttals

Our linked sites (our general articles via 'Index' link below)

With recent attention on Howard Flight MP's speech about possible further cuts in public spending, there is an interesting exception to Tory economies.

John Redwood MP corresponded with us on 14.1.05:
" Thank you for your query concerning our abolition of regional bodies. We will be abolishing the unelected Regional Assemblies in England, regional Housing Boards, strategic health authorities and other regional quangos. We are not currently planning to abolish the GLA: both the GLA and the Mayor are elected, and were endorsed by the people of London in a referendum, which puts them into a different category.
Yours sincerely John Redwood"

However this Tory line is weak:
a) because they plan to give the Welsh a referendum over ending their 'elected assembly'. (NB. 25% of Welsh electors voted to set up their assembly, only 22% of London's endorsed the GLA experiment).
b) because 'being endorsed' by being elected is not a factor that stops the Tories wishing to abolish one-fifth of MPs.

(see the Conservative website
on local government
on axing MPs, Welsh vote
on cutting waste)

There must be some very special reason why the Tories want to keep this extravaganza that burns taxpayers' money, draws powers from local authorities, and promotes EU/PC policies?.

Far better to give powers back to local people, cut out the Mayor's 'political advisers'and 'media army' and transfer productive staff to other London bodies?

Liability Livingstone hushed up

"It's safe to come out, Ken, the election's over now"
- Mayor Livingstone was recorded as Labour's biggest electoral liability and was mysteriously quiet during the campaign

Ken Livingstone and regional government

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This page updated: 23 May 2005; links updated: 11 Jun 2005

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