When, back on 21 January, David Miliband introduced the Bill to ratify the re-named EU Constitution (aka. the Lisbon Treaty) into Parliament, he rather smugly announced that a clutch of charities had joined with the government in endorsing the treaty.
"The NSPCC pledged its support, as have One World Action, Action Aid and Oxfam,” Miliband declared.
Well, the reason for the apparent enthusiasm of these charities for a treaty designed to bring about further EU political integration - a highly controversial political project that's not related to their chief charitable purposes - has only recently become clear.
Responding to a question put by MEP and Daily Telegraph blogger Daniel Hannan - himself following up a line of enquiry raised by the excellent EUreferendum blog - the European Commission has revealed that ActionAid, the NSPCC, One World Action and Oxfam received between them an incredible €43,051,542.95 - about £34.5 million - from the EU during 2007 alone.
Hardly surprising then, as Hannan says, that organisations in receipt of such colossal sums should dutifully endorse a treaty supported by their paymasters.
Keeping it in the family
The revelation once again draws attention to the incestuous system by which EU decisions are made and by which we are now increasingly governed.
As Hannan explains, from his experience at the heart of the EU institutions, whenever the EU wants to extend its jurisdiction into a new field, Brussels institutions go through the motions of “consulting civil society”.
By this, the EU means inviting the opinions of a series of organisations that it has itself heavily sponsored, and which look in large part to Brussels for their income: the European Women’s Lobby, the European Union of Journalists, the European Trade Union Congress and so on.
These cooked-up 'representatives of civil society' inevitably tell the EU essentially what it wants to hear, and the EU can then claim to have listened to 'The People'.
What you don’t get is any direct input from voters. Rather, public opinion is intermediated by a wide variety of quangoes heavily dependent on the EU's financial largess.
It's a method of government that some years ago in an article entitled 'The New Euro-Corporatism', the Democracy Movement's campaign director Marc Glendening pointed to as an area of similarity between today's pan-Europeanism and pre-war fascism. The article was published at the time in the European Journal.