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The UK is "full of hate"

Posted by Richard Sunday, February 20, 2005

That is according to the fragrant Margot Wallström, commissioner for truth and reconcilliation, the laments of whom are recorded in The Sunday Telegraph today.

The fair commissioner, who is responsible for pushing through the controversial European constitution, has likened her task to "dressing Frankenstein's monster".

These, apparently, are her first public remarks about a job that will keep her busy for the next 18 months. She told a press conference in Brussels that the British would prove particularly sceptical. "The UK is filled with hatred towards the EU institutions," she said. "But I consider this 'mission irresistible', not 'mission impossible'."

Certainly, Margot has taken a brave step in that mission, starting her own Blog (link above), but she has not exactly endeared herself to the Eurosceptic community by telling the BBC about the EU constitution in terms for, "From a policy content point of view, the changes are minor, they are really not very important." This is redolent of Peter Hain – the former European minister – claiming that the EU constitution was "a tidying up exercise".

With some 63 additional areas of qualified majority voting being introduced in the constitution, the creation of a defence alliance, imposing more rigorous obligations on member states than the Nato Treaty, and establishing an EU "foreign minister", the changes can hardly be described as "minor".

Yet, according to the Telegraph, Mrs Wallström believes that that "winning minds" is all about communication. "Seven out of 10 people feel they know nothing or very little about Europe," she says. "And even more know nothing about the constitution."

If they are relying on this particular commissioner for their information, however, people are going to remain ignorant – which is perhaps what advocates of the EU really want. For, while the commission professes to rely on research that suggests that better-informed citizens are more likely to say "yes" in a referendum, better constructed research carried out in the UK actually suggests the opposite. The better informed people are, the more likely they are to dislike the EU.

On that basis, contrary to perceived wisdom, perhaps the real reason why "the UK is filled with hatred towards the EU institutions" is because we are actually better informed about what they do than the EU polls would have us believe.

In any event, if the blessed Margot feels that adding further lies to the charge sheet of institutions that already have a reputation for mendacity is the answer to "winning minds", she may well find that "dressing Frankenstein's monster" is a breeze, compared with her day job.