How ironic it is that, this morning had our favourite newspaper trilling about how intense the interest has been in the US presidential elections in this country, so much so that, "Anyone would think that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain had been slugging it out to become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom."
The reason for that – as my co-editor has remarked – is because they still have something left of their democracy in the United States.
Compare and contrast this, therefore, with the main leader which solemnly declares that, "The EU must be made to listen to concerns", bemoaning the fact that the people of Ireland are the only citizens of the European Union to have been given a direct say in the ratification of the
constitutional Lisbon treaty.
The European Commission, the paper observes, says there is no "Plan B", but the truth is that the EU will simply steam on its merry way towards the creation of a superstate, the "ever-closer Union" of the Treaty of Rome, whatever its people want.
Does that contrast not paint a picture? On the one side of the Atlantic, we see a vibrant electoral contest and, on the other, we see a once-great daily newspaper whinging about and unelected and profoundly anti-democratic European Union – the only thing left for it to do.
Yet, in the manner of the Conservative Party, the paper talks loudly and carries a little stick – not much more than a twig, really. An Irish "No" in the referendum, it says, will strengthen the hand of those in this country who wish to see a long-overdue renegotiation of Britain's relationship with the EU. But – heaven forfend – "not as a prelude to withdrawal, but to create a newer and looser arrangement based around free trade and ease of movement, rather than further political, economic and military integration."
As we argue elsewhere though, with the enactment of the
constitutional Lisbon treaty, renegotiation is no longer an option without first committing to withdraw from the EU. In one fell swoop, the paper rules out any possibility of success, should it ever come to pass that our government goes for that option.
But, if the paper is ruling this out, so is the Conservative Party. In a letter from CCHQ on behalf of David Cameron, regarding membership of the European Union. The writer tells us:
We believe it would be wrong for Britain to leave the European Union. The EU does much that is worthwhile. It allows people, services, workers and goods to move freely across Europe.So, we are back on the same, lame Tory agenda – buying in to the bulk of the "project" while the heirarchy delude themselves that they can achieve "reform". Note the use of the word "believe". This is not a statement of policy but a reflection of a belief system, one about as credible as a religion based worship of a Sun God (i.e., slightly more credible than the modern Church of England).
The EU also provides a unique means for us to work together with our European partners on shared challenges which Europe’s nation states by themselves cannot deal with; and with enlargement, the goal of EU membership has persuaded not just governments but whole societies to raise their standards across the board.
Britain has an enormous amount to gain through co-operation and free trade in Europe. That is why we want Britain to be a positive participant in the EU, championing liberal values.
However, there is certainly a great deal that is wrong with the EU – the persistent attempts to take ever more powers from nation states, the mismanaged budget, the failures of the Common Fisheries Policy and, sadly, more – which is we have campaigned for reform and modernisation in the EU.
We believe in an open, flexible Europe and it has long been David's view that elected representatives should not give up the powers they were elected to wield without asking the people who elected them first.
So we opposed the EU Constitution in principle, and that is why, now it has been brought back in substance under a different name, David, and his colleagues, are working so hard to hold Gordon Brown’s Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats to the election manifesto pledges they made to voters and get the referendum on the Lisbon EU Treaty we were all promised.
It is also why we have pledged that a Conservative government will amend the 1972 European Communities Act so that any new EU Treaty that transfers competences – essentially EU legal language for powers – from the UK to the EU would be subject to a referendum of the British people. This is because we strongly uphold the principle that people should have freedom and control over their own lives, and it should no longer be possible for Governments to hand over power to the EU without the British peoples' explicit permission.
We are optimistic that with a firm view of our national interests in mind and a clear vision of Europe's proper priorities – global competitiveness, global poverty and global warming – we can succeed in reforming the EU so that it is fit for the twenty first century. It will not be fast. It will not be easy. But we believe it can be done.
The letter speaks for itself - we can't even be bothered to fisk it. We are no further forward then we were in the sixties. As I wrote last night, since we are, necessarily, reliant on the Tories to extract us from the EU, there is no hope for us – at least, in the foreseeable future. Tory promises – like the one illustrated (click here to enlarge and look at the penultimate line of the "services affected") – are not worth the paper they are printed on.
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