The Ancien regime of the EU is under pressure but not about to collapse

 

        Some of the EU’s critics see current times as similar to pre Revolution France in the later eighteenth century. The EU Commissioners keep telling discontented voters to eat cake. The modern equivalent is to tell them obeying EU rules and targets will get them a job in due course.  Mrs Merkel, the nearest to an EU sovereign, occasionally pops out and assures us that bit more German discipline around the place will soon solve the problems of the troubled states.

            So the EU critics think there will be sudden outburst from the ungovernable hordes. They think  it may take the form of a move on more weak  banks as in Cyprus, or voting for anti establishment parties as in Greece until they have a majority, or a trans EU strike by taxpayers and voters refusing to co-operate any more with the Ancien regime officials and their constant demands for more money and more obedience from their subjects.

          I do not think there will  be a single trans EU revolution. The forces against the EU are very split by geography, preoccupation, language and  political affiliation. One of the ironies of the situation is that because the EU has not succeeded in making a single European demos, there is no single political community to unite against it.

           This does not mean, however, that the current EU is stable and proof against opposition. I suspect rather the change will come as it did in the Reformation in sixteenth century Europe. Peoples in different parts of the Catholic empire had different reasons for disliking Catholic authority. They adopted different means of getting out from the Catholic supremacy, and did it at different times. Although the Catholic powers at the beginning seemed to have all the cards, they lost much of their empire in a devastating thirty years. The Catholics started with the intellectuals, the lawcodes and the armies all on their side. They ended by losing most of Germany, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, and the UK . The fault lines from this can still be seen in modern EU negotiations.

 

            So how did the Reformation work? It began with the thoughts and writings of intellectuals using the new technology of the printed book and pamphlet to  good effect to spread new and rebellious ideas. Today the anti forces have the more powerful and immediate internet.

           It passed to the Princes and Parliaments. In the UK we held a Reformation because the Catholic government of Rome did not undertsand how serious the issue of the King’s marriage was to UK politics. In the Netherlands popular displeasure with the Catholic Church was bound up with the wish for self government, out of the hands of the Hapsburgs. In Switzerland their progress to a unique independent democracy took a step forward with a quiet Reformation, secure behind their mountain passes.

           Today the Parliaments have still taken a pro EU line, but as the votes stack up complaints with the Ancien regime we should look for change to come in the more Eurosceptic countries. May it be peaceful, and may it be soon.

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84 Comments

  1. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    I don’t mean to be rude but the UK regime appears to me much more “ancien” than the EU or most European national regimes. I don’t just mean the very aged and male dominated H.o.C. but also the rigid three-party domination (if the popular vote is discarded and we focus on actual MP seats). I’d like to remind you that in the middle of the eurozone crisis, the Dutch elections (12-9-2012) ended in remarkable weakening of the anti-EU forces. Elections in other EU countries didn’t demonstrate big anti-EU swings either. Now, there is more articulated, precise criticism concerning the EU, and I think that the EU will prove far more flexible to change than e.g. the Catholic church. The EU is stil a “project under construction”. Finally, it shouldn’t be forgotten that decades of anti-EU campaign in UK media have been largely unopposed. This might change once interested parties start flexing their muscles. With this big eurosceptic split between Tories and UKIP they may not even have to.

    Reply The interesting thing in the UK is very few people and no political party ever makes a positive case for continued EU membership, because on current terms there is no such case to make.

    • oldtimer
      Posted May 4, 2013 at 6:37 am | Permalink

      What do you imply by this comment “This might change once interested parties start flexing their muscles”?

      It sounds like a threat to me. We do know that the EU spends millions on propaganda, some directly on its own account and some indirectly through third parties to advance the causes it promotes. It even pays lobby groups to lobby itself for the measures it promotes. The BBC is a known recipient. This method was also (still is?) used to push the EU`s CAGW/climate change agenda. This is a scandalous misuse of taxpayers money. It happens in the UK too, and where it is discovered efforts are made to root it out.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted May 4, 2013 at 9:44 am | Permalink

        @oldtimer: I don’t mean to sound threatening, but I have before mentioned those interested parties in favor of continued EU membership: The City, the CBI, and the American government. They might campaign in favor, at least if and when an in/out referendum comes nearer

        • Wonky Moral Compass
          Posted May 4, 2013 at 10:03 am | Permalink

          Let’s hope they do. The ‘if they’re for it, I’m against it’ effect would be interesting to say the least.

        • oldtimer
          Posted May 4, 2013 at 10:27 am | Permalink

          UK business opinion appears to be shifting, if recent polling is to be believed.

        • Little White Squibba
          Posted May 4, 2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink

          “The City” is in favour of continued membership? Would you care to qualify or expand that remark?

          • uanime5
            Posted May 4, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

            There are tariffs and quotas between EU countries and non-EU countries. There are no tariffs and quotas between two EU countries. So the City will have a larger market if the EU continues to expand.

        • Acorn
          Posted May 4, 2013 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

          Don’t forget that “The City” makes a lot of money out of transacting EU commercial business for banking, finance and international law. The City balked at the ROME 1 regulations for cross border contractual obligations, much of which used English Law and City lawyers to administer it. Same for ROME 2 non-contractual obligations. It saw a threat to earnings if the EU got its way. There are loads of fee earnings in this and numerous other factors that the City transacts. It does not want to lose them by being out of the EU. Frankfurt and Paris would love to get the City of London out of the game.

          How long do you think a UKIP front bench, would resist the City of London Lobby? Crikey, the lobby even managed to do away with criminal prosecutions for “control frauds” (in which the person controlling a seemingly legitimate entity uses it as a “weapon” to defraud).

        • David Price
          Posted May 5, 2013 at 5:37 am | Permalink

          I don’t think you’ve been keeping up with events of this year, at least.

          The EU has been waging war on the financial businesses in the City, unless you are refering to Frankfurt or Paris of course.

          The CBI recently said the focus must be on developing export markets outside the EU, strangely enough that’s what Germany has been doing as well.

          The US government, in the form of their president certainly, is anti-UK so unless they align with our interests why should we automatically support their wishes considering what we’ve been dragged into over the last decade or so.

          Even if these “interested parties” do wake up and start pitching a pro-EU line, what makes you think anyone here is going to believe them or their motives? The central argument that more than half our trade is with the EU has been shown to be false time and again yet it is the only argument that is used.

        • lojolondon
          Posted May 7, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

          The City? Really, are the turkeys voting for Christmas? The American government? Barack Obama, well known hater of Britain and Europe?
          The strongest and most dangerous advocate for EU membership is the EU, who steals £50 million a day from the British taxpayer, then spends money with the BBC to ensure an even more biased pro-EU viewpoint, and influences our most disloyal politicians to support them. For example, people who left government, being forced out by their peers as a direct result of Brussels intervention due to nationalistic / anti-EU positions are : M Thatcher, J Heider, S Berlusconi, L Papademos, there may be more. How democratic is that? The sooner UKIP have a controlling vote in the UK the better, because Europe doesn’t want us and we definitely don’t want Europe!

      • uanime5
        Posted May 4, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

        We do know that the EU spends millions on propaganda, some directly on its own account and some indirectly through third parties to advance the causes it promotes.

        What is your evidence that the EU spends millions on propaganda? How does this spending compare to how much money is spent on anti-EU propaganda?

        It even pays lobby groups to lobby itself for the measures it promotes.

        Again either provide evidence to back up your claims or admit your made them up.

        The BBC is a known recipient.

        The BBC receives the vast majority of its funding from the UK Government.

        This method was also (still is?) used to push the EU`s CAGW/climate change agenda.

        Countries are trying to tackle climate change because the scientific evidence has shown that the average global temperature has increased because humans are producing too much CO2, not because of the EU.

        • Edward2
          Posted May 5, 2013 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

          The fact the BBC receives any funding from the EU is cause for concern.
          The BBC is funded by a licence fee and that should be all.
          Would you be so sanguine if the BBC was partly funded by the USA or China or by George Soros for example?
          I think we can guess your outrage.

    • alan jutson
      Posted May 4, 2013 at 7:34 am | Permalink

      Peter

      “the EU is still a project under construction”

      Yes it is , and that is the problem for us here in the UK.

      We voted to join the EU on the simple basis of free trade and co-operation.
      At least that was how it was sold to us on two occassions, but clearly it was not true then, and it is not true now.

      The UK population by and large, have now found out the truth.
      Our politicians at the time simply lied to us.

      Yes many of us did not read the small print, or did not really understand the hidden meanings behind the words, but you elect people to a position of trust to govern honestly, and that is manifestly not what we had at the time on this subject (and many others) indeed it even happens now, but it is not confined to this Country.

      Thus our membership was based on a lie, pure and simple, and it remains so..
      Now those lies may have been based upon statements made by our own politicians at the time, but lies they were.

      We now find ourselves, and even our own Chancellor has admitted in a couple of budget statements, that we cannot govern ourselves as we would like, because of EU rules on taxation alone will not let him set our own tax rates (VAT rates on some goods and services as an example), let alone all of the other aspects and interference due to regulations, law etc.

      Thus the rules of this club are constantly changing.
      I have no problem with that, as long as we are allowed to quit membership at any time, as indeed is the case with any other club you choose to join who you later find to be unsuitable.

      The politicians are at last now finding out from this population how they feel about our continued membership of this Club, so do not be surprised if and when we eventually leave.

      Democracy usually eventually works, but it takes on occassions a very long time.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted May 4, 2013 at 9:49 am | Permalink

        @alan jutson: although you are allowed quiting any time (article 50 Lisbon treaty), such disentanglement would take a few years and involve negotiations. If a case for continued mmebdership will be made, it should be based on future prospects, rather than past, unfulfilled expectations.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted May 4, 2013 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

          We’ve had half a century to see that the politicians who raised those past expectations were mostly liars with a following of fools, and to also realise that most of the present politicians are no more worthy of our trust.

          To adapt a saying:

          “Fool us for half a century, shame on you; fool us for the next half century, shame on us.”

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted May 5, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

            @Denis Cooper: Denis I would suggest that most intelligent Britons (who didn’t just depend on British media) never felt fooled, not in the past, not now, and also see the British interest in future as being an EU member, a better choice in the global arena.

        • David Price
          Posted May 5, 2013 at 5:44 am | Permalink

          That is known as pulling the ladder up after you have climbed it but everyone else hasn’t.

          The EU and it’s principal beneficiaries are not interested in the UK’s benefit, they are only interested in us as a source of funds, a market for their goods and a means to absorb the unemployed and unemployable.

          Past behaviour is a clear indication of EU intent and it is clear it cannot be trusted as far as UK interests are concerned, along with those of the weaker members.

        • lojolondon
          Posted May 7, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

          Yes, unless we stop paying immediately. Then they will surely find a fast way to untangle us from the EU. Don’t believe a politician when they say ‘can’t’ – everything is possible!

      • Mark B
        Posted May 4, 2013 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

        alan jutson said,

        “We voted to join the EU on the simple basis of free trade and co-operation.”

        Sorry alan, but that is incorrect. We were NEVER allowed to vote on membership of the EEC/EC/EU. If you mean the referendum in 1975, we were already members by then and the full force of membership was yet to be realized.

        That iswhy I do not believe the establishment will ever allow us a referendum on continued membership of the EU, unless they can be sure of the ‘right result’. And believe me, they will make damned sure they get it !

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted May 5, 2013 at 7:41 am | Permalink

          Indeed, it would be a massive propaganda blitz, if necessary with some of it illegally funded, and with foreign interference, and with lashings of scaremongering and smearmongering, all of which would be uncritically assisted by almost all of the mass media.

          Of course after losing the referendum the “out” side could object about illegalities, but even if a court agreed with them it would say that it wasn’t proven that the irregularities had had any significant effect on the result and so it should stand.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted May 5, 2013 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

            @Denis: the luxury of being unopposed eurosceptics cannot last forever, although I realise it must be fun while it still seems to last.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted May 4, 2013 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply,
      I beg your pardon!
      David Cameron January 2013:
      “Because I believe something very deeply. That Britain’s national interest is best served in a flexible, adaptable and open European Union and that such a European Union is best with Britain in it. ”
      I was going to list other quotes from Clarke, Heseltine, Mandelson, any LibDem you care to think about but it would take too much space. All the three main parties at Westminster make the case for staying in the EU and are determined to keep us in against our wishes. It is the case for leaving the EU which is not being made except by UKIP and a few MPs like yourself.

      Reply Yes, but the current EU is nothing like the description Mr Cameron says he favours. That is why he now accepts we need a new relationship with what has been created, which is inflexible, highly centralised, authoritarian and cartelised.

      • Andy Baxter
        Posted May 4, 2013 at 8:31 am | Permalink

        “That is why he now accepts we need a new relationship with what has been created, which is inflexible, highly centralised, authoritarian and cartelised. ”

        The EU will ever be thus; it cannot be bargained with, it cannot be reasoned with, it does not feel pity, or remorse or fear and it absolutely will not stop assimilating and gathering ever more power…EVER.

        ‘renegotiation’ is not an option whilst a member..EVER

        we have only two options:

        accept it…..and live with it as the majority of the existing ‘notting hill set’ ‘political class’ want

        OR

        give notice via article 50 of Lisbon Treaty and leave, The EU by its own rules it cherishes so much is then legally and treaty bound to ‘RENEGOTIATE’ as Cameron is so fond of wanting.

        nothing changes the day after we are still bound by all the EU directives still have access to trade and free movement as will stay and become automatic members of EFTA so the ‘trade ceases’ propaganda is nonsense.

        BUT we would then be able to influence issues on national and global scale via EFTA as Norway does and be able to ‘renegotiate’ bi-lateral agreements on everything else as Switzerland does

        BUT we’d be FREE and SOVEREIGN once again

        • uanime5
          Posted May 4, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

          nothing changes the day after we are still bound by all the EU directives still have access to trade and free movement as will stay and become automatic members of EFTA so the ‘trade ceases’ propaganda is nonsense.

          EFTA countries have to obey nearly all of the EU’s directives, even though they can no longer influence these directives.

          BUT we would then be able to influence issues on national and global scale via EFTA as Norway does and be able to ‘renegotiate’ bi-lateral agreements on everything else as Switzerland does

          If the UK was in the EFTA we’d still have to obey EU law, so there’d be little difference on a national level.

          The EFTA and Norway have little influence on a global scale.

          Switzerland doesn’t renegotiate everything using bi-lateral agreements. It has to obey nearly all EU law.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted May 5, 2013 at 7:43 am | Permalink

            One, two, three, four, five factual errors this time – is this a record?

      • lifelogic
        Posted May 4, 2013 at 9:02 am | Permalink

        Yes, they say the EU is in our interests, talk drivel about the % of our exports going to the EU (as if they only happen due to the EU) and talk about a seat at the table (where we are just ignored). But they never make any real case for being in the EU as there simply is no rational case to be made.

        Unless you fancy a nice job as an over paid bureaucrat with special tax rates that is.

        • uanime5
          Posted May 4, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

          There are several reasons for being in the EU, such as getting better trade deals from other countries because the EU is a larger market than the UK and getting full access to the markets of the other 26 EU countries.

          • lojolondon
            Posted May 7, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

            The EU is a shrinking economy, and getting smaller. We want to be trading with the developing world, so we can be a world power once again. The CAP is most damaging to European and African economies, all to protect French farmers, the sooner we are free of that, the better.

      • Brian Tomkinson
        Posted May 4, 2013 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply,
        Cameron knows that he won’t be able to change the relationship and this is just the same ploy Wilson used in 1975. He favours keeping us in the EU and will never advocate our leaving, whatever the outcome of his so-called ‘re-negotiations’.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted May 4, 2013 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

          Correct; he’s been pushed towards saying and even doing things that in his heart he would never want to say or do, and the moment that the pressure was relaxed he would take that as a signal that he could revert to his real preferences. That started to become clear not long after he blagged his way into becoming Tory party leader.

      • zorro
        Posted May 4, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

        Which is why of course he supported some of his fellow MPs in trying to get a referendum vote before the next election……?

        Oh wait………he didn’t, did he? In fact, I seem to recall a three line whip being invoked there……or was I imagining that? Of course, I was, everyone knows that he only does what Nick agrees with……..

        zorro

    • uanime5
      Posted May 4, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      Don’t forget about the unelected House of Lords. Also as the Prime Minister decides who become a Lord he can effectively fill the Lords with enough supporter to pass any of his bills.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted May 5, 2013 at 7:44 am | Permalink

        Thanks for that tip.

      • Edward2
        Posted May 5, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

        Strange that the House of Lords has been a real nuisance to the current Government and the previous one when they voted down some bills.

    • John B
      Posted May 4, 2013 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      Anyone who can use the word ‘flexible’ applied to the EU clearly has no concept of what the EU is, and apparently is quite uninformed about its ambitions, institutions, personalities involved and behaviour.

      The EC is at the heart of the EU. It is the cess pit into which drains the political sewers of Europe. So it holds all the effluent from a Continental system renowned for graft, cronyism and corruption.

      John Redwood is correct, there will be no pan-revolution, empires always crumble at the edges for different reasons of dissatisfaction, towards the centre which ends up under seige.

      Seiges seldom turn out well for the beseiged.

  2. lifelogic
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    Indeed “May it be peaceful, and may it be soon” we shall soon see.

    Why on earth are the Labour, Libdems and heart and soul Cameron with half the Tories still so keen on killing the remains on UK democracy through the EU. It now looks likely that UKIP may be the biggest party in the EU elections, and shortly before the 2915 general election.

    Will Cameron finally realise his dreadful sense of direction, since he gave away the last sitting duck election with his “modernising” pro EU, soft left, big state, fake green drivel? Or does he just want to be bought off with a nice EU job after his destruction of the Tories?

    • Andy Baxter
      Posted May 4, 2013 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      “Will Cameron finally realise his dreadful sense of direction, since he gave away the last sitting duck election with his “modernising” pro EU, soft left, big state, fake green drivel? ”

      rhetorical methinks and the answer is “NO” “NIEN” “NON”

      • zorro
        Posted May 4, 2013 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

        Nein, and maybe a Niet too……..

        zorro

    • Pleb
      Posted May 4, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      Lifelogic, Its a possible job for failed politicians. Good money, fat pension, no real work. Its a gravy train.

  3. zorro
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    So Martin Redwood, have you symbolically nailed your ninety five theses against the church door?

    zorro

    Reply Many times – as with the publication of “Just say No” and “The Death of Britain?”

    • zorro
      Posted May 4, 2013 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

      Of course you have, so why do you tolerate this nonsense from Cameron?

      zorro

  4. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 6:48 am | Permalink

    All history and more recent times is a mix of the old and new. Derrida attributed difference as something which can differ and defer and until more signifiers are added to language the true meaning never truly represents the new ,Not only is this applicable to language but to the events it is trying to correspond to.

    Whilst there may be similarities between historical movement , deeply entrenched religious ideals and power , there is always the underlying deepest instinct of all- self and survival. The tensions between the main religious powers, monarchy and the not so Austin Mitchell plebeians will continue and all factions will seek for their own comfort.

    Today your article has a tone of acceptance .. A tinge of sadness. John, an intellectual is as important as the persuasive powers will allow him/her to become .The brutality of existence is far too much bound up in cruel and creative nature.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted May 4, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      Or, to put it more simply:
      Reformation led to terrible civil wars in France, the Spanish Armada, the English Civil War, the Thirty Years’ War.
      The French Revolution led to two hundred years of war as the ancient regime was felled in all sorts of different countries.
      Socialism led to revolution in Russia and actually to National Socialism and dictatorship in most of Europe. That, too, led to war.

      The outlook is not bright. Which is why we need to get back into our traditional role as safe haven for sensible people fleeing from European Dominance.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted May 4, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

        I see this claim about Nigel Farage’s ancestry in the Express:

        http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/396897/Great-grandfather-of-Ukip-leader-Nigel-Farage-was-born-to-German-immigrants

        “ANCESTRY experts have revealed the great-grandfather of Ukip leader Nigel Farage was allegedly born to German parents who migrated to London in the 19th century.”

        “Records show the Eurosceptic’s great-grandfather Carl Schrod, who was born in 1864, was the child of German immigrant cabinet makers in London.

        The census details reveal Nicholas and Bena Schrod came to London from Germany shortly after 1861, and their son was born three years afterwards.

        Debra Chatfield, a family historian at findmypast.co.uk, said: “I am sure Mr Farage will be delighted to learn some more about his family history – or maybe not.”

        I expect he will be very interested, if not necessarily delighted, to learn that one of his eight great-grandparents was born in this country to Germans who evidently felt that they’d be better of here than in Germany, and I expect his German wife will also be interested.

        Of course now we need a full investigation into the origins of the other seven great-grandparents to check whether there’s anything more that could possibly be used against him.

        I’m reminded of my cautionary tale from a year ago, about my indignation that the Germans were even taking over the manufacture of sausage skins in this country, except that it turned out that the company in question was founded in 1921 by Ludwig Weschenfelder who’d come here in 1898, and they’re now on their fifth generation of Weschenfelders, all but the first having been born and bred in England.

        Reply I can’t see why any of this matters.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted May 5, 2013 at 7:46 am | Permalink

          It doesn’t, except as a potential tool to attack him.

  5. Cheshire Girl
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Amen to that!

  6. Javelin
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    John you’ve worked in a bank you must be aware of – Catastrophy Theory. It is not the current state of things that matters but the probablity of future states. I can stretch a rubber band and it looks stable but it will snap. So the problem at the moment is whether the current state and processes in the EU is moving Europe closer to catastrophy. Which I think it does. Either the EU must become a United Europe or it must move apart.

    The problem with the EU is that it currently in a process of negotiation for unification BUT the PROBLEM is that is it in the STATE of negotiation as well. That is to say that the EU is living out the negotiations rather than playing them out over a negotition table.

    This raises several questions. (1) what happens if negotiations break down (2) what happens if negotiations go down dead end – all parties are happy but then realise a fatal error etc.

    You see this is the problem – the citizens of Europe are living out negotitions of the political elite – literally like pawns in a game. It is a very dangerous and unethical game to play.

    P.S. You talk about revolutions – well that would be a different theory. That would be dialetic in nature. Currently there is no strong political antithesis in Europe. NO doubt it is coming i.e. UKIP and the comedian in Italy. But it is not a strong dialectic. The only dialectic is unemployment and starvation. So I fear whilst revolution is not around the corner the citizens of Europe will suffer terribly due to the elites unethical behaviour.

  7. oldtimer
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    This an interesting analogy. Another hypothesis, recently advanced by Brendan Simms (Europe: the Struggle for Supremacy, from 1453 to the present) is the centrality of the German question in European politics and how to solve it. The formation of the EU and the creation of the euro was intended to provide the 20th century solution to this question. Up to a point, it succeeded. But now it faces the prospect of failure unless there is the political will to adapt and find an alternative answer to the age old question of the balance of power in Europe. As you conclude “May it be peaceful, and may it be soon.”

  8. Simon Jones
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    I have seen the pre-revolutionary France comparison used quite a lot lately but this is the first time I have seen it used regarding the EU. It is very popular when used to describe our politicians who keep telling us to pay more taxes, send our winter fuel allowance back, don’t pay the window cleaner cash etc while they float around on a sea of subsidised booze and fine dining, luxury travel, second homes for people who live within the underground network and all the other excesses they lavish upon themselves. All paid for by people who may be poor and working yet find themselves having to feed their own families from foodbanks in order to fund this profligacy.

    I think our politicians should set an example and reign in their own expenditure, stop the subsidised booze at work etc before lecturing us. While they’re at it they could stop giving money to the EU so we don’t have to listed to similar patronising rubbish from another elite who live in luxury which is funded by us.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted May 4, 2013 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      Amen to that!

      We need to look at what was promised by the EU supporters, then balance that against what the EU has actually delivered, and I find it very strange that those in the Labour and Liberal Democratic parties who would have us believe they are fighting for the ordinary working man (and woman), wish to harness the UK to something that damages their prospects of their core supporters.

      And you’re right to highlight the extravagances of those on the EU gravy-train. The commissioners on inflated salaries, the nonentities, also on inflated salaries, who strut around, feeling important, shuffling bits of paperwork. Whilst all the time, there are people in member states who are at the end of the road without income, and enough to eat. Their only recourse is the vote they still have, but more and more people are seeing how many decisions are being made, which exclude their input.

      Anyone here vote for Van Rumpoy?

      Tad

  9. Alan Wheatley
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    You make a profound statement: “One of the ironies of the situation is that because the EU has not succeeded in making a single European demos, there is no single political community to unite against it”. I can not see how the EU could make a single European demos, nor why such a thing should be desirable.

    It is indeed ironic that in supposedly democratic countries membership of the EU is a surrender of democracy. And the longer the EU continues the worse it becomes. Such an organisation can not survive. I have being saying for a long time that the EU will end in failure; the difficulty is knowing when and how this will happen. I endorse the hope that it will be peaceful and soon.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted May 4, 2013 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      Me too Alan, and the momentum is gathering!

      Tad

  10. Javelin
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    I’d also like to talk about UKIP and politics in general.

    Key to UKIP is that 71% of the voters were over 50. Perhaps this is because the over 50s were the ones who voted in the original EU referendum, perhaps they are wiser, perhaps nostalgic.

    The issue is not the old but the young. I think the “sudden” emergence of the old people voting UKIP is not sudden. Again I’ll bring up catastrophy theory. What it says is that something has changed in the system with the older voters and then a threshold has been crossed and they have decided to vote for UKIP.

    I would suggest that only two things have changed (1) the EU has proven economically as very poor and this has reminded the older voters of the Soviet / Centrally planned nature of the EU (2) that the older folks have realised that UKIP offers a politically correct version of nationalism

    So I would say alot of people are no longer embarassed / scared / worried about voting for a nationalist party anymore. In a sense UKIP have solved the language problems thrown up by political correctness over the past 20 years. In effect people have realised not wanting immigration does not mean you are racist.

    So I think what we are seeing is a sea change in older because UKIP has separated the nationalist/racist language problem.

    However – and this is where we go back to catastrophy theory – is that if we follow catastrophy theory and look at the future we see tht whilst the older folks were first to not be scared to vote UKIP (for whatever reason) it is actually the young who have the most to lose from immigration but also the young who have been brow beaten by political correctness over the past 20 years.

    So rather than being a blip I would say that the next sudden change to look out for is younger people finding their voice. I would suggest that this will come from (1) the undereduated (the unemployed) and (2) the overeducated (the bottom half of graduates). I would suggest that we will see over the next TEN years a growing body of young people becoming anti immigrant (and once immigrants are from the EU) they will become anti EU.

    I would suggest that an OBJECTIVE analysis of UKIP shows there will at least 10 years of strong anti EU growth. I suggest that any attempt to see this as a blip is nostalgic about political correctness. UKIP hve solved the problem of political correctness and this cannot be unsolved. That is the basis for moving forward.

    • A.Sedgwick
      Posted May 4, 2013 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      In short the UKIP genie is out of the bottle

    • Tad Davison
      Posted May 4, 2013 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      My youngest daughter is 18 and voted for the first time last Thursday. I have never forced any of my kids to vote for any political party, and insist the choice must be theirs.

      Quite independently, she took an online test, to see which party matched her own beliefs the closest. She voted accordingly. She came home after her visit to the polling station and proudly announced she had voted UKIP.

      Now one might say that is down to her little ol’ dad’s influence. In part, maybe. But I confess, I do get a bit of a buzz when she listens to a pro-EU politician from the other three main parties, and picks holes in their nonsense. So it isn’t just the elderly who have a lifetime of learning and bad experiences behind them, who have made up the UKIP vote. Nor is it life-long, middle-aged Conservatives like me who are fed up with being sold down the river by the Heseltines, Clarkes, and Majors. The young are not so daft, and when UKIP support comes from all quarters, and all age-groups, Cameron has a problem!

      Tad

    • uanime5
      Posted May 4, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      the EU has proven economically as very poor

      How exactly is it the fault of the EU that several countries mismanaged their economies?

      this has reminded the older voters of the Soviet / Centrally planned nature of the EU

      Given that the UK was never part of the Soviet Union the only people in the UK who would have experienced this would be immigrants from eastern Europe. Unsure how popular UKIP is among them.

      I would suggest that this will come from (1) the undereduated (the unemployed) and (2) the overeducated (the bottom half of graduates). I would suggest that we will see over the next TEN years a growing body of young people becoming anti immigrant (and once immigrants are from the EU) they will become anti EU.

      Why would these people become anti-immigrant? Surely they’d become anti-business once they notice that companies are refusing to hire them because of their nationality.

      Also if the majority of immigrants aren’t from the EU then the unemployed will never become anti-EU.

      I would suggest that an OBJECTIVE analysis of UKIP shows there will at least 10 years of strong anti EU growth.

      How has analysing UKIP allowed you to determine that there will be 10 years of anti-EU growth in the UK?

  11. Leslie Singleton
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    May it be peaceful indeed but I doubt that it will be.

  12. Tad Davison
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    ‘The modern equivalent is to tell them obeying EU rules and targets will get them a job in due course. Mrs Merkel, the nearest to an EU sovereign, occasionally pops out and assures us that bit more German discipline around the place will soon solve the problems of the troubled states.’

    This wouldn’t be the first time a German leader has insisted that people should follow the German model, and it wouldn’t be the first time they’ve been hated for it. But whether the German model is a good thing, or a bad thing, getting others to adopt it, is going to be difficult, and won’t provide a solution any time soon. Just as we in Britain could never hope to do as the pro-EU lobby suggest, and stay in, to bring about our interpretation of change from within. It hasn’t happened in the forty year period of our membership, and no-one can tell me how long such a transformation might take. In the meantime, the social disaster the EU has brought, shows no sign of abating, and the suffering of the people right across the continent needs to be halted NOW!

    From Britain’s point of view, it would seem to make more sense, if we withdrew from the EU altogether, but cooperated with EU member states where it is in our own, or mutual national interest. We could then make our own trade agreements globally with whomever we wished, rather than be forced to rely largely on the diminishing market in the EU, where countries have less and less money to buy our goods and services. Further, we could look at other models, even Germany, and adopt the best working practises to streamline our own industries. That, I venture, would be the best way to secure our prosperity, and ensure British people had jobs. And if they had jobs, they could then afford to buy goods from the EU if they wanted to, which would ensure any trade agreement with them, would be viable. That rather demolishes the argument from the pro-EU people like Clarke and Clegg, that we have to stay in, to gain access to the biggest single market in the world, because it can be done, without the concomitant plethora of legislation that comes with it. We would again be master of our own destiny, which seems like the very thing the British people are clamouring for, if only the governing parties would listen.

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

    • uanime5
      Posted May 4, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      Further, we could look at other models, even Germany, and adopt the best working practises to streamline our own industries. That, I venture, would be the best way to secure our prosperity, and ensure British people had jobs. And if they had jobs, they could then afford to buy goods from the EU if they wanted to, which would ensure any trade agreement with them, would be viable.

      Well lets do this before leaving the EU then. After all there’s no point in leaving the EU, then trying to improve prosperity to the point where the UK is able to have viable trade agreements.

  13. Kevin Marshall
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    There is another analogy that is relevant here. When Henry VIII broke away from Catholic Europe, it was not for the purest of motives, using it to undermine the rule of law and seize wealth for the Crown. But I do not think any would argue that in the long-term the dissolution of a regime where Princes were subservient to a higher authority was a bad thing. Without it liberal democracy, individual freedom and the prosperity of the modern world would not exist.

    So looking at the impure motives of a small minority is a temporary way of distracting from the very real issues that are causing discontent. But history shows that this tactic makes the breakup more acrimonious and painful.

  14. Richard1
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Interesting analogy, but dangerous to make? Wasn’t there a Conservative MP thrown out a few years ago for making the (admittedly bizarre) suggestion that the EU is a Catholic conspiracy to re-establish the Holy Roman Empire? I seem to remember he was thought to have fallen foul of one of Labour’s thought crimes laws.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 4, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      He was a Tory candidate in 2005, until Howard sacked him:

      It’s a legitimate topic for discussion, but also one which is not exactly helpful when you are working alongside devout Catholics who are longstanding and determined opponents of the EEC/EC/EU project, so in my view best avoided.

      • zorro
        Posted May 5, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

        Denis, I think that you might be referring in your comment to Howard Flight, the Conservative MP accused of promoting a “secret agenda” for public spending cuts (and subsequently sacked by Howard)…..

        zorro

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted May 5, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

          No, it was Adrian Hilton.

          • zorro
            Posted May 6, 2013 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

            Of course it was….Sorry, temporary amnesia.

            zorro

    • zorro
      Posted May 4, 2013 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

      Nick Ridley thought that it was a ‘German racket’…….You might be referring to Brian Binley?

      zorro

  15. Edward.
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    The powers that be, of the establishment in Britain knew that in order for Britain to meekly remain as a European satrapy the people had to be changed.

    Jack Straw and Blair deliberately opened the floodgates and seven or eight million souls later and with a burgeoning birth rate – before our eyes -‘ we’ are being ‘changed’.
    We have been forcibly changed but many are unbowed, the people are rising, as the English do – slowly but the white hot anger and resentment is there – Cameron doodles and dallies, events are overtaking his dilettante coagulation.

    The biggest demographic experiment also goes on apace in Europe, in France, Spain even Germany but here things are fermenting the people see through the burgers of Brussels with their UN inspired ethos.

    This will not end peacefully, nor will it end well.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted May 4, 2013 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      Thank God for the English Channel!

      Tad

  16. Mike Stallard
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    The EU is a cancer. Invisible, it spreads through our political system controlling and sucking the life blood out of our Civil Service, our Parliament, our Queen, our Prime Minister and ourselves through ruinous control and taxation. Like a cancer, it provides a pseudo well being and even a false fatness to the dying body. Parts of the body of Europe are already necrosed. Parts are highly inflamed. Parts are puffed up with fluid.

    To save ourselves there is just one solution and we must do it before our angry, violent little continent again rumbles towards the violence which is its natural state.

    • uanime5
      Posted May 4, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      The EU is a cancer. Invisible, it spreads through our political system controlling and sucking the life blood out of our Civil Service, our Parliament, our Queen, our Prime Minister and ourselves through ruinous control and taxation.

      Cancers aren’t invisible and many tumours don’t spread throughout the body.

      Like a cancer, it provides a pseudo well being and even a false fatness to the dying body.

      I can’t recall any cancer patients who look well because they have cancer.

      Parts of the body of Europe are already necrosed. Parts are highly inflamed. Parts are puffed up with fluid.

      None of these are a symptom of cancer. The symptom of cancer is having a tumour.

      To save ourselves there is just one solution and we must do it before our angry, violent little continent again rumbles towards the violence which is its natural state.

      Why did you stop making cancer analogies?

  17. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    We don’t want a revolution, we just want to leave this foreign anti-democratic organisation currently calling itself the EU and be an independent self-governing country trading with the whole world. Unless politicians do respect the will of the people it may well end in violence at some stage, in some countries, under this totalitarian regime, as has happened throughout history and can be seen today in North Africa and the Middle East. Isn’t it strange how concerned politicians like Hague and others in EU countries purport to be about self governance and democracy in other countries outside the EU whilst stifling democracy and surrendering government in their own countries?

  18. ian wragg
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    As a former Tory and now a paid up member of UKIP, I am sick of the commentators telling me thatn if you “fix” the economy you will win the next election.
    NO NO NO John. I want my country back and the LibLabCon have no intention of getting it back.
    There will eventually be a backlash and I’m not so sure it’s going to be peaceful.
    The likes of Cameroon, Blai, Brown etc should be very worried when the time of judgement comes.

  19. Tad Davison
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Reading all the comments that appear on this blog, most of which are very pertinent and excellent in their content, I am always reminded that the EU is basically socialist-centric. And as such, it is prescriptive, and puts down dissent and objection. Its very mechanism is geared to making itself ever-more powerful and centralised, whilst removing the ability to challenge it from the ordinary man and woman.

    Historically, such regimes have ultimately collapsed, and the EU isn’t exactly a picture of health, however much BBC journalists might wish to gloss over its failings. I just cannot for the life of me see how belonging to such a thing is in this nation’s best interest.

    Labour has a commonality with anything which would deliver more socialism, even to the disadvantage of its core supporters, and the Lib Dems are similarly affected, but why are so many pro-EU people still in the Tory Party?

    Whatever happened to the MP selection process?

    Did officials at Conservative Central Office tell the local parties to lean towards candidates who were pro-EU, and are they then a part of the greater pro-EU conspiracy?

    I am hopeful men like David Davis and Liam Fox might address this over the next few days, because the Tory party I once voted for, canvassed for, and even walked the streets for, has been hijacked by pinko people I could never support again.

    Tad Davison

    Cambridge

  20. uanime5
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    trans EU strike by taxpayers and voters refusing to co-operate any more with the Ancien regime officials and their constant demands for more money and more obedience from their subjects.

    Given that the EU is giving countries that are having financial problems more money in bailouts than the amount of money these countries are being asked to raise any revolt by the taxpayers and voters of the countries that are having financial problems against the EU will result in them having to pay even more of their own money to bailout their Government or their banks.

    Whether the taxpayers and voters in stable EU countries that are having to bailout the EU countries with financial problems will revolt will depend upon what problems these stable countries will suffer when the countries with financial problems go bankrupt.

    I suspect rather the change will come as it did in the Reformation in sixteenth century Europe. Peoples in different parts of the Catholic empire had different reasons for disliking Catholic authority. They adopted different means of getting out from the Catholic yoke, and did it at different times.

    The Western Schism between the two popes and the countries that supported them lasted from (1378-1417). There were also the Hussite rebellions in Bohemia (1419-1434), where the Hussites fought against the Catholics. So as early as the 14th century Europe wasn’t united when it came to religion.

    I believe one of the main reasons for objecting to the catholic Church was their practise of selling indulgences (pardons for crimes that hadn’t yet been committed) as a way to raise money.

    Also not all attempt to convert to Protestantism succeed; which is why Poland, Hungary, and France remained Catholic.

    Although the Catholic powers at the beginning seemed to have all the cards, they lost much of their empire in a devastating thirty years.

    I’m not sure which 30 years you’re referring to.

    If you’re referring to the 30 years war (1618-1648) this was more of an attempt by the Austrian Hapsburgs to reconvert the northern parts of the Holy Roman Empire back to Catholicism. One interesting thing about this war was that Catholic France supported the Protestants because they didn’t want to be the only country separating the Spanish Hapsburgs and the Austrian Hapsburgs.

    If you’re referring to the last 30 years of the 80 years war (1568–1648) between Spain and the United Provinces (formerly the Spanish Netherlands) I’d say the prolonged war was more devastating that the loss of this part of the Spanish Empire (especially since Spain still had nearly all of South America).

    If you’re referring to the conquest of much of Eastern Europe by the Ottoman Empire between 14th and 16th centuries I’m not sure which 30 year period you’re referring to.

    The Catholics started with the intellectuals, the lawcodes and the armies all on their side. They ended by losing most of Germany, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, and the UK. The fault lines from this can still be seen in modern EU negotiations.

    I thought that Germany was generally in favour of the EU. Also the Holy Roman Empire of the past contained parts of several countries that exist today; such as Belgium, Italy, France, Poland, Austria, and the Czech republic.

    What about Ireland which remained Catholic but didn’t support an EU treaty until they needed an EU bailout.

    What about Hungary which initially supported Protestantism, due to the influx of German immigrants, but later converted back to Catholicism during the Counter-Reformation?

    What about countries such as Bulgaria, Romania, and Greece who were under the control of the Ottoman Empire for much of this period. Does this make them on the side of the Protestants, the Catholics, or are they some third faction?

    One problem with this analysis is that the countries from the 16th and 17th centuries aren’t the same as the modern countries.

    In the UK we held a Reformation because the Catholic government of Rome did not undertsand how serious the issue of the King’s marriage was to UK politics.

    In 1527 Henry VIII asked Pope Clement VII to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Earlier this year Catherine’s nephew, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, had sacked Rome and taken the Pope prisoner. So it’s understandable why the Pope didn’t want to grant Henry VIII an annulment.

    In the Netherlands popular displeasure with the Catholic Church was bound up with the wish for self government, out of the hands of the Hapsburgs. In Switzerland their progress to a unique independent democracy took a step forward with a quiet Reformation, secure behind their mountain passes.

    In what is now Iran Shāh Ismāil I founded the Safavid dynasty and converted the population of Iran to Shi’a Islam to ensure that the previously Sunni Muslim population of Iran wouldn’t side with the Sunni Ottoman Empire.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safavid_Dynasty

    So it’s not uncommon for countries to adopt a different religion to their neighbours when trying to unite their people against something.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 4, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      The EU is not “giving” any money to distressed eurozone states.

      Not intentionally, anyway, although it could eventually turn out be “given” if/when the loans can’t be repaid.

      • uanime5
        Posted May 5, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

        Being given a loan still means that these distressed eurozone states don’t need to raise as much money.

      • Edward2
        Posted May 5, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        Indeed Denis, the post by Uni is yet another that fails to understand the basic point that the EU has no money of its own.
        It is just a distribution organisation and its rising running costs and inefficiencies are gradually making it a failure at developing wealth and employment for its members.
        Uni talks about the EU as if it is a controlling separate federal State and that we in the UK are no more than like Texas in the USA.
        All it has are the membership fees of its member nations for as long as they feel it is advantageous.

  21. Christopher White
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    In Italy there is no longer a majority for EU measures. Berlusconi is manoeuvring by demanding PD agrees to paying back 8bn receipts of property tax,which they can’t. The next step is new elections. (An Italian commentator, perhaps quoted on Open Europe’s tweets for press summary, agrees with this. Berlusconi must wait until constitutional change (already proposed) to end Senate having 1/2 power as no one will get 50 % sets under true proportional representation used there.

  22. Willy Wombat
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    France is surely the key here. She will be humiliated yet again by Germany under Hollande’s presidency. The French will gradually come to see this as largely self-inflicted, by their deluded elite. With its project in tatters, they will vote in Marine Le Pen next time and then all bets will be off.

  23. Bert Young
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Dr JR I have agreed with you several times that a cohesive Europe ( for all the reasons you have mentioned ) is unworkable . Your observations endorse why every MP should have a thorough knowledge of History . Making the present transparent to the past is a tried and tested formula .

  24. Stevie
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    I have never put pen to paper before and never belonged to a political party but after voting for Thatcher then Blair and regrettably Cameron in my 71 years I’m now headed to join UKIP.

  25. Skeptic
    Posted May 4, 2013 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    In a spirit of helpfulness rather than criticism or pedantry…

    You may want to be careful how you use the term Ancien Regime. The term came into use in the late summer of 1789 as participants in the French Revolution realized how great a rupture they had made from the recent past. “Ancien régime” therefore came into existence only after the regime was finished. Strictly speaking, it means ‘former regime’ rather than ‘old regime’. Its use to refer to the current EU dictatorship might draw criticism of a lack of scholarship and be used to try to undermine your message.

  26. Pleb
    Posted May 5, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    My comment was not allowed?

  27. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted May 6, 2013 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    I would have thought that if the UK doesn’t want to join a European Federation, it would have an interest in making sure that a large Federation with a military capability does not form on our doorstep. This requires an active foreign policy, disrupting the Eurozone as much as possible, yet we have not adopted one.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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