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Which part of "no" don't they understand?

Posted by Helen Thursday, June 02, 2005

Margot Wallström, let me remind our readers, gets a salary most of us cannot even begin to dream about as a Commissioner and Vice-President of the Commission. She also gets enormous expenses and a chance to travel round the planet: morning meetings with President Hosni Mubarak, crocodile tears shed over the Amazon rainforest; you name it, she's been there and we paid for it.

Then there is the staff. The fragrant Commissar seems to have an endless supply of spokespersons, minions, speech-writers (another one by the name of David Monkcom has just made his appearance), blog moderators and other odds and sods. To be fair, none of them seem to be able to prevent her from making a fool of herself but there is a limit to all human endeavour.

What is she supposed to do in return for all these goodies? Communicate. She is the Commissar for Truth and Reconciliation … woops … I mean Communication.

Her main job at the moment is to sell the European Constitution to the people of Europe. In this she has failed.

Despite endless wittering on the part of the politicians and the media, one cannot quite ignore the fact that all but one of the ratifications were carried out in countries where the governments refused to ask their people whether they liked the idea of a 400 page constitution.

Far from representing 50 per cent of the population of the EU, these ratifications represent nobody but the local political elites, who dream dreams of Margot-size troughs.

That left Spain, where under 40 per cent of the electorate bothered to turn out, so enthusiastic were they about the whole project.

So we come to the first hurdles: France and Netherlands. The European collective, led by President Barroso and Vice-President Wallström received a collective bloody nose.

Most of us would say that the propaganda chief … woops … Communications Commissioner (a.k.a. the fragrant Commissar) can be said to have failed.

Will she resign? In the words of SecGen Kofi Annan, father of Kojo of food-for-oil scandal, "Hell, no."

Nobody resigns these days. Annan would not dream of it, having presided over some of the most disastrous events in the disaster-prone history of the UN.

President Chirac might find himself in a criminal court if he resigns and retires into private life, so he resigned his Prime Minister instead.

Prime Minister Balkenende holds his head and wails but will manfully carry on with a project most of his countrymen dislike.

And the fragrant Margot? Well, according to her blog,

I cannot hide that I'm disappointed with the result of the French Referendum. So are many of us who have been active on the ‘Yes‘ side and who have believed that the Constitution would give us better opportunities to work together in the European project. At the same time the result is clear and has to be respected.”
Ummm. And how does she intend to respect this very clear result? Well, first of all by analyzing what kind of no it was. Was it a positive no or a negative one? Was it people saying go away, we do not want this constitution or was it people really saying, please, please, can we have more of this terrible farrago?

Guess which kind of no the fragrant Commissar thinks it is?

I have met a number of those who participated and said 'No' in this referendum but who believe in European integration. They say that they don't think that this Constitution is the solution but they want European integration to continue and they believe in the European project. It is clear that people voted 'No' for many reasons.
One would quite like to know whom the fragrant Commissar met and who actually came up with that arrant nonsense? You never hear of people meeting her. Has anyone even admitted to seeing her anywhere? Come to think of it, has anyone admitted to hearing her infamous speech in Terezin?

So, they are going to listen more. "We" have not been listening. Why not, for goodness' sake? People have been speaking up loud and clear for some time. But, of course, if listening means hearing comments like we voted no because we want more integration, then one rather wonders what the point of the exercise would be.
On the 'Yes' side, this is not a time for blame games. We have been playing that game for too long, Institutions blaming each other, Member States blaming 'Brussels' and so on. Instead we all have to take responsibility and see how we can mend this as best as we can and look to the future. Europe has changed. European citizens are better educated, they are more demanding, including what they ask from their politicians and their elected leaders, and this requires great leadership for the future.”
I suppose it would be too much to ask them to reconsider the whole project as being rather noxious, economically unsound, politically authoritarian and deeply unstable? No, I thought not.

Some of us can still remember elderly judges, like Sir Quentin Hogg (later Lord Hailsham and Lord Chancellor) pronouncing in fruity tones during rape trials that in certain circumstances a woman who says no really means yes. Strangely enough, no woman ever agreed with that statement.

It seems that the fragrant Margot, a self-proclaimed feminist, who rejoices over Kuwaiti women getting the vote (though not managing to find out why more Egyptian women wear the veil) belongs to the same "no means yes" brigade.