Thursday, October 28, 2004

Nothing has changed

One really does not know whether to laugh or cry at the latest developments in the EU parliament. Given the propensity to hedge one’s bets, the best option is probably both, simultaneously. Actually, hysterical giggling is more in order.

Scanning the considerable news coverage of the events, neither is it possible to single out coverage that best (or at all) captures the moments, although I like some of Rosemary Righter’s comments in The Times, especially the bit where she writes about MEPs talking about a triumph for democratic accountability as being "an insult to their voters". "Is has been more like "a witch-burning", she adds without much originality: Rocco Buttiglione himself called it a "witch-hunt", as did the Conservative Party.

Driven by increasing desperation, in my search for something that did convey some sense of what is happening - or not, I was even driven to read Boris Johnson’s op-ed in the Telegraph. His piece is entitled, "The Euro parliament is no longer a joke for bored hacks" which, if it was true, is more than can be said for the author of the piece.

Our – well, "your", I don’t want him – Boris seems to be suffering from pangs of jealousy, as he toils away in the mother of parliaments, voting his little socks off in all those divisions (there were rather a lot yesterday) while this upstart parliament in Strasbourg was having all the fun and glory.

Generally, there is nothing politicians crave more than for publicity, so one feels for poor little Boris, who must be getting withdrawal symptoms, having not been in the headlines for at least five minutes. But even such a person as he can occasionally come up with something sensible. He writes: "We may be less exotic than the Euro MPs, but at least people tend to know who we are, and how to get rid of us".

I wish, Boris, I wish, but unfortunately, I do not live in Henley and you are really not worth the life sentence that would come with doing it the other way.

So, where do we all stand after this deluge of media coverage? The answer, dear reader, is exactly the same place as we were before it. Today's newspapers are but tomorrow's fish and chip wrappers (EU hygiene directives permitting). Nothing, but nothing has changed.

And the proof of the (low-salt) pudding is in the eating. As new graffiti appears on the walls of the Strasbourg parliament, proclaiming "Kilroy was here – but not for long", tomorrow, 25 European leaders assemble in Rome to sign the constitution.

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