Friday, November 05, 2004

Targeted gloating

YEEEEEEEE-HAAAAAAAAA!

"Gloating," writes John Derbyshire, in his excellent piece in the National Review about the US election, "is definitely uncouth, undoubtedly bad manners."

"Still," he continues, "the fact that the good Lord gave us the capacity for bad manners suggest to me that He meant us to use that capacity — in a properly measured and carefully targeted way, of course. So let's talk about targeted gloating, precision gloating."

Top of the list must be John Prescott, who’s one-man obsession put regionalisation on the agenda and kept it there, despite lukewarm interest from his colleagues. He and he alone must bear the responsibility for the estimated £10 million wasted on the referendum when, if the sounding exercise had been conducted properly and honestly, it would never have been attempted.

Another gloat must be targeted at Sam Younger and his electoral commission. Despite his incomprehensible decision to award designated status to the Tory-backed North-East Says No Campaign, the will of the people prevailed and not even the incompetence of NESNO managed to dent the vote.

Then a huge gloat must be despatched towards the media, but mainly the BBC, which continued to talk about "devolution" when Prescott’s folly was anything but – an exercise of robbing local authorities of some of the few powers remaining with them and vesting them in the wholly artificial construct of an administrative region.

However, I won’t gloat at the leader of the "yes" campaign, John Tomany – that would be one too many (who could resist the pun). His dismal performance got its just rewards and at least he did have the sense to recognise that the peoples of the North East had blown a huge raspberry in his direction.

A raspberry, more than a gloat, must also be directed at UKIP, which backed the wrong horse in supporting NESNO and then remained invisible throughout the campaign.

Another very large raspberry should also be despatched to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). Despite very clear opposition to regionalisation from its members, who cast an 82 percent vote against in their annual conference (thus closely reflecting the eventual result), the policy committee chose to remain neutral on the issue, mainly because the NE regional committee has been captured by New Labour luvvies, and was looking forward to the "jobs for the boys" that the new regional structure would bring.

But that’s almost enough gloating, ed. The true significance of this referendum, and its relevance to this Blog, is that in many respects it was a test-bed for the EU referendum. We can all take cheer that the people of the North East voiced what most commentators are now recognising is a healthy contempt for the political elites who are attempting to foist their own agendas on their unwilling voters.

But the last word must go to Andrew Marr who, on this morning’s Today programme, noted that the referendum was "partly about Europe". "A lot of people", he said, "felt that this was about the Balkanisation of England, creating regions that would be easier for Brussels to rule". "Those people who are thinking ahead about the European constitutional referendum ought to look at this very carefully too," he added.

Don’t worry, Andrew. We're already on to it.

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