Saturday, August 11, 2007

Blogger round-up

In this second round-up of bloggers who have posted pieces on the new EU treaty and related matters, we noted a considerable increase in activity over the previous week. We found over 45 blogs (not including our own), more than doubling the number in our first round-up, so here goes, roughly in chronological order.

Some write very simple posts, like Canker, who has "a real down on the EU" and contented himself with a link to our previous round-up, with a few choice words of his own. But they make the point no less powerfully for that.

Open democracy, in one of several pieces, also linked to the round-up while Tangled Web linked to our piece on the Booker column, which so deftly laid out the story of the EU’s attempted coup d'etat. Also reproducing the graphic of the column, author Pete Moore asked, "Can anyone still fool themselves that the EU is about a club of nations, a free market of trading partners?"

The future is a foreign country is another blog that reproduces Booker while Klein Verzet, who admits to a "current pre-occupation … with matters EU", not only links to several of our pieces (a round-up of the round-up, so to speak), but offers an intriguing explanation of the reason why he calls the new treaty the "Turnip". That post is well worth a read. He also writes a piece on the UN issue.

Devil's Kitchen gives good value for money – as long as you can tolerate the swearing – with a useful comment to this piece (one piece of several) from "Chris", who declares, "Quite frankly if Bertie Ahern, Richard North and M. Valery Giscard d'Estaing (who drafted the bloody constitution in the first place) agree that it is the constitution by another name then that is good enough for me." Nice one!

Much of the activity was from Conservative bloggers, following up Hague's publicity initiative – as we will see shortly – but there was cross-party interest as well. Liberal England, for instance, declared that, "The most important issue at the past three general elections ought to have been Britain's relations with Europe…", publishing a pic of a smiling Ted Heath, rejoicing at the EEC referendum result (duly nicked).

Those who do not currently use pics on their blogs might reflect on how much more powerful they become when posts are well-illustrated.

Daily Referendum (interesting blog that) makes a pitch for the pro-referendum rally in London, and Curly's Corner Shop has a go at "public trust and consultation", telling us that "Matthew D'Ancona adds to calls for EU Referendum". I don't think he means our blog.

In the opposing camp, Global Power Europe attempts a rebuttal of this piece, while offering a link to a petition asking the prime minister "to provide his full support for the European Union's new 'Reform Treaty'". It has ten signatures.

You will not get any such nonsense from The Purple Scorpion (a much under-rated blog), who not only reviews the Booker column but adds a thoughtful piece on the state of play in the campaign, taking an upbeat view. He believes the debate is starting to move on.

Another thoughtful contribution comes from an unlikely source, the blog Planning Watch which, as its name implies, deals more usually with planning matters. Indicative of the widespread concern about the new treaty, its author asks, why are governments throughout Europe so keen to hand over their sovereign rights?

That leads us to the first of the rumbustuous posts from the Economist blog, which was followed by this one and then this, offering increasingly convoluted arguments as to why turning the European Council into a fully-fledged institution of the Union was nothing to worry about.

Interestingly, our original thesis and the fact that the Economist blog reacted so sharply to it, had one of our former forum members (illustrated) convinced that we had changed sides and are now working for the enemy. Several lucky readers have had numerous e-mails pointing that out, at some length.

Also out blogging was Right or wrong, whose blog bears the strap line, "Moral and other questions about life in the UK, EU, and the world at large," offering a piece entitled: "Attempts to avoid EU Referendum are pure humbug". This was not, we understand, a covert message to our former forum member.

David Lindsay was asking questions as well, this one, “Does David Cameron really want a referendum?”. A good question – the piece is well worth a read. You can also read Tory Heaven, who writes about Britain’s UN seat, citing Grendel who complains on the Tory Heaven blog that, "The only real surprise is that the bloggerati have been so quite (sic) on this…". That is not our impression.

Such is the evident gravity of the situation though, that even my near-namesake decided to weigh in, none other than Anthony North, who had a thought:

Just imagine if the Common Market or EU had never existed. Chances are we would have naturally cooperated with each other to the point that Europe would have been a better, more organised place than it is now. And without the suspicion or dictats.
"Oh, you stupid, stupid politicians!" he concludes.

Erabulus, on the other hand, seems to believe the people are stupid (or, at any rate, ignorant). He asks:

The officials (who have actually read the document) seem to consider it in the best interest of the country, while the public (who have not) appear to disagree. So, which is the highest priority for those in government? To do what they believe to be in the public interest, or to yield to public opinion—even when that opinion is founded on ignorance?
Sign of the Times ventures that since the reform treaty is "just a treaty designed to tidy up existing legislation then we have no need to worry, no need to even consider something like a referendum on the matter." I think he is being ironic, as the rest of his piece affirms, with him finishing off with a delicious quote from Napoleon, who said: "Never disturb your enemy while he is making a mistake".

We even got a posting from Open Europe which offers a clever piece, noting that the not-the-constitution includes a couple of references to "the Constitution", the Portuguese presidency having forgotten to take them out.

Dr Bills on Jaxhawk looks at the clash between "political correctness and religious doctrines", an American perspective of the EU, John Redwood - yes, it is he – reports on the government admitting that, "the draft EU Treaty represents the biggest ever sacrifice of vetoes in a single Treaty" and all about education news, by media tutor Paul Gooch, picks up Hague's publicity initiative on the treaty.

This also brought Tory Diary briefly out to play, before it scuttled off to talk about much more important issues, like politicians' holidays. Still, if you have truly lost the will to live, you can always read the comments on the Hague piece.

From left-of-field came Ironies too , with a wry comment on whether, from within the EU, Britain still qualifies for membership of the Commonwealth, Common sense 4 Britain stays on the beaten track and does the "50 vetoes" story, while Nosemonkey tries to argue that there is nothing in the new treaty of any significance. "Move along, nothing to see here", is his message.

Not a sheep runs with Gisela Stuart and her comments on the European Council, plus a mathematical formula that proves the non-the-constitution is, in fact, the constitution, Rhod on public affairs, writing from Australia, goes with the Tories and Number Watch, which is usually focused on doing a superb job on global warming and junk science, reviews the Booker column.

Eurealist takes my co-editor to task for her piece on Malloch-Brown, making the (correct) observation that It is quite clear that "EU Referendum has a thing about the Shadow Foreign Sectary (sic)" – oh, it is so nice to see that other bloggers make typos!

Paul George, however, must like Hague, as he publishes the Tory press release, verbatim. The Difference, which styles itself as the "Compassionate Conservatives' Blog", fauns over the one and only post in the week from Open Europe, calling it a "must read" (offering the pic on the left). One can't help but think, though, that this fabled "think-tank" hasn't really got the hang of blogging. Once a week?

Brussels Comment does a puff on the fragrant Wallström’s blog, but has a moan at the "less than 10 annoyingly regular posters, who probably put enough other people off with their bickering". Keep it us chaps!

Conservative councillor Steve Horgan calls for a referendum, and Civitas comments on the level of interest that many Americans display towards British current affairs, to the extent that, "some even knew enough about our ties with the EU to engage in a valuable debate about the coming Reform Treaty". It adds the comment: "which is more than most Brits, but that is another blog entirely!" We look forward to reading that one.

So far in what is turning out to be a marathon (for readers, as well as this writer), we find BBC biased - another superb site – has done two pieces, the one making unfavourable comparisons between the the American Declaration of Independence and the new, not-the-constitutional treaty and the other covering the damage limitation from the Today programme

Information liberation is another that does a cut and paste job on the Hague press release, Daily Reckoning calls to "Let the people decide", noting that our government wriggles out of its referendum promise and the EU carries on regardless, while the Workers blog, on the Communist Party of Britain Marxist-Leninist site, states: "Constitution as before: so we want a referendum, as before." From right to left, this issue certainly crosses the political divide.

The Doughty Street blog has Kate Eames pondering, "Who's afraid of the public making an informed choice?" in relation to the EU, venturing that, "the reason this is an interesting distinction for politicians to be making is that it highlights how the European project has changed." This is a debate about the small print of the new Treaty, she writes, and not the principle of a constitution, which would be fine if everyone in the debate knew what the small print meant.

Well, if she is entitled to a view, so is rampant Europhile Richard Corbett who is singing from the same hymn sheet as the rest of his Europhile colleagues, arguing that the "federalists" are extremely disappointed with the new treaty. Once again, "move along, nothing to see here".

England Expects suggests there is something to see - the European prosecutor – while the Speakout blog issues a powerful call to unity amongst Eurosceptics. It writes:

It is time, once more, to form a common front, for the various lobby groups, think tanks, and campaigning organisations that give diversity and strength to the euro-sceptic movement to combine their talents and energies into a single, highly focused campaign.
That leaves me to conclude with what must be "spot of the week", with Saxon Times (aka Anoneumouse) noting that the president of the European Central Bank does not like Article 9 of the EU Reform Treaty either. He has concerns that making the ECB a Union institution, in common with the European Council, will undermine the Bank's independence. And, what applies to the Bank applies to the European Council in spades, as The Huntsman points out, in a well-crafted post, one of many on this issue under the generic title "Referendum News".

So, that's it for this week. My apologies to anyone I have missed, but we have set up a special section of our forum for bloggers and readers to leave details of postings on the EU issue. Tell us if you have anything you want to be included. We will be back next week with the third round-up.

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