A tale of two Presidents – and the EU

It was refreshing to hear that the President of Poland respects democracy and the popular vote sufficiently to say he will not sign the Lisbon treaty now that Ireland has vetoed it. Let’s hope he keeps this belief in listening to the people, as he will now doubtless be briefed against and pressurised by the Euro political class.

It was depressing to hear the President of France lecturing us all on how important it is to get Lisbon through despite the Irish vote. It shows he has not got it, and is a fully paid up member of the Euro elite intending to carry on with their power grab however unpopular it is. The French threaten us – we will not expand the EU further if you do not let us centralise – as if that were a threat to Eurosceptics. They demand that 26 of the 27 nations go ahead with ratifying anyway as if nothing had happened. They tell us wrongly that the EU cannot function without this ghastly new Treaty, and seek to find out how to buy off or sideline the Irish, refusing to take “No” for answer.

At the same time they dare to say they are out to create a “Europe” that helps its “citizens” and takes them seriously. If they really meant that they would seek to base their “Europe” on the wholehearted consent of its prisoner people, by offering referenda through out the nations of the EU and accepting the verdicts of the national votes. They would find that different nations want very different levels of integration and common policy, but in many cases like the UK we want the EU to do less, to legislate less, to spend less and to allow us to get on with our own lives without its constant niggling interference.

The French government openly wants European defence – a European army. It wants agricultural reform of a kind which will continue to cut out imports from poor countries elsewhere in the world and costs the taxpayer and food buyer a small fortune. It wants more laws and regulations in many areas of life, as if we did not already have far too many of both. It wants higher taxes throughout the Un ion, to avoid “tax competition”. It’s a recipe for less enterprise, lower incomes, and higher unemployment.

The British government claims to want to put constitutional change behind us, knowing it is very unpopular with the public. It knows it is so unpopular that they dare not match their promise of a referendum on Lisbon, and then wonder why people feel cheated. They state that the EU can make important contributions to tackling the big international issues once Lisbon is put to bed. When I asked the other day what they wanted to push through the EU legislative factory post Lisbon that they could not get through under the current arrangements, there was of course no answer. Most of the problems they think the EU can help solve (like climate change and food and energy prices) require global agreement anyway.

If the Euro elite wants to know why they keep losing referenda and why their project is so unpopular they do not need to look very far. It is unpopular because they either deny us a vote or ignore the results. It is unpopular because the EU serves the political class that draw their salaries from it, not those of us who have to pay the taxes to keep them in the style to which they are accustomed. It is unpopular because all its plans entail more laws, more rules, more taxes. Many of us want fewer of both. That’s why we despair of this power grabbing overcentralised EU, living in the past and unable to grasp the sheer competitive power and energy of Asia.

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8 Comments

  1. Cliff
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    Trade with Europe? Yes.

    To be ruled by Europe? No.

    In my view, the EUSSR amounts to little more than throwing most of ones income onto a bonfire and then shooting ones self in the foot.

    If any group of countries wished to put themselves at a real disadvantage in terms of trade and competitiveness, my advice to them would be to adopt the EU's model as the basis of their union.
    If any group of countries wished to waste much of their gross domestic product, my advice would again be, adopt the EU's model.
    If those same countries wished to tie their citizens up with laws and regulations again, adopt the EU's model.
    If any group of countries wished to ruin their nations and loose their national identities, again adopt the EU's model.

    If you don't wish any of the above, stay well clear of projects such as the EU, your population will thank you for looking after their interests.

    I wonder what the USA will think of this posting now the EUSSR has agreed to give them access to such personal data?
    A concern I have is this, if the EUSSR can give the USA such data, then they (EUSSR) must already be collecting it. Makes you think does it not?

  2. mikestallard
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    We English are so arrogant! We assume that everyone in the world is British too! We have a long tradition – dating back to Anglo Saxon times – of public discussion and consultation, of fair laws impartially administered, of electing our monarch. Add in the Viking love of going 'a Viking" and you get the British Empire and football hooligans.

    The French have a completely different history. Louis XIV, Napoleon, Charles de Gaulle all believed in high tax for the army, rule by a technocracy, government control of the economy and, yes, a fair deal of corruption at the top too. they still believe the same. Why not?

    To people of Europe it is common sense that democracy ends in Robespierre, Weimar, Dubcek and therefore that it needs to be firmly controlled and the real power put into the hands of honest brokers who are fully trained, unaccountable experts. Everyone believes this. Look at the behaviour of the European Parliament when described by Daniel Hannan.

    I am so glad that you at least are prepared to stand up and be counted when Europe shows its true colours.

  3. Posted July 1, 2008 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Good post – Mikestallard. I worked in Brussels for 5 years, and one of the first things that struck me was just how shallow the democratic roots are in mainland Europe – France (as you note) has never been a democracy and is now an elective oligarchy, ditto Belgium. Germany is a total mess, deliberately created by the US after the 1939-45 war. Eastern Europe we know about – interesting just how many ex-commies turn up representing them. Spain and Portugal were fascist dictatorships in living memory. Italy and Greece, well nuff said. Added to which, the Commission is stuffed full of Marxists, Trots, mad greens and militant Catholics, all hell bent on subjugating the whole of Europe to the will of a non-elected bureaucratic elite. The trait you have identified is particularly strong among pro-Europe UK politicians. They seem to imagine that they do things our way over there, or if they don't their way must be better.

  4. mikestallard
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    PS I do hope that everyone sends a note of thanks to the Poles who, once again, have saved us from disaster. (John Sobiewsky and the Miracle of the Vistula are the other two cases in point).
    http://www.president.pl/modules/mailtoperson/Send

  5. David Eyles
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    I agree wholeheartedly with this. It really is a relief to hear an eminent Conservative MP say exactly what needs to be said, out loud and in public.

    Now, Mr Redwood, would you please try to persuade David Cameron to make a similar and just as forceful statement along with his proposals to rectify the situation?

  6. Freeborn John
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    There is an interesting piece in The Spectator suggesting that Francis Maude’s policy Implementation Unit is discouraging any Conservative policies that might lead to confrontation with Brussels. It does not make me optimistic that the Conservatives will re-negotiate our EU membership to one of trade rather than political union.
    http://www.spectator.co.uk/the-magazine/features/

    It might be argued that the EU issue could be tackled later in a first term, or perhaps in a second term, but later could very easily turn out to be never. The Conservatives will likely need to threaten to leave the EU as a last resort if they are to achieve the best negotiated deal. Such a threat will be most credible early in a 1st term when the Conservatives command a large majority won on a popular mandate to solve this thorny problem once and for all. The Lisbon treaty has a two-year timetable for EU withdrawal, to which could be added another year due to the pro-EU majority in the Lords. Brussels would feel far more emboldened to refuse to negotiate seriously with the UK in the later stages of a parliament if the Conservatives only options at that stage would be either to back down or to initiate a process leading towards EU exit that would then overlap with the next UK election. If the Conservatives do not strike early there in no reason to believe they will strike later when the odds of success will be worse.

  7. adam
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 12:46 am | Permalink

    was amazed to hear the pro european on newsnight claim the EU was building prosperity by helping small business.

    is there anything they wont say.

  8. John Archer
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 2:06 am | Permalink

    Mostly off topic I'm afraid, but not entirely:

    I have a plea. I wish the word 'elite' were not used in connection with this eurotrash gang. There is nothing elite about them in the least. They are a lowly clique—or cabal, if you prefer—(Very disparaging remarks left out)
    It's strange that the word has come to be used so often nowadays in such a perverse way. It seems to me that the only people who used it in the past in any pejorative sense were the marxists and their fellow travellers. For them any kind of excellence, especially personal, is to be deprecated. And since elites are (or were) normally associated with excellence, it seems natural for the left, by association, to regard 'elite' as a dirty word. It certainly appears to have been that way in large swathes of brain-dead humanities types in academe (sociology and pomo lit-crit especially) from at least the 1960s onward. But unfortunately now almost everyone seems to have become infected by or acclimatised to this perversion of the word. But not fully, I think. And therein lies a danger.

    As I say, I sense for many it is strongly sullied now, but only in some vague way, yet it still retains some flavour of its old sense of excellence. I think this is unfortunate as it has the distinct disadvantage that while these new 'elites' may now generally be regarded as bad (and fair enough) I fear the use of the word 'elite' to describe them as such may still leave many people with the impression (because of the partial retention of its old and virtuous sense) that their members are somehow better, wiser, more intelligent or what have you than the vast bulk of ordinary men. I believe this combination is unfortunate. It might suggest to ordinary people that this 'elite' trash cannot be gotten rid of—that they're too well established or too clever to be ousted or defeated; that they are just another one of those "inevitable" things that "we can do nothing about"; and, even worse, that they might indeed be our so-called betters. That is, the word might encourage defeatism or, heaven forbid, even some old-fashioned forelock tugging. Neither of these are good things.

    So, I make my plea for the use of 'clique' or 'cabal' instead of 'elite'. Of course if there are other words more suited to the task then better still. I'll have to defer to the wordsmiths for those though.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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