Wednesday, 22 October 2008

EU Decide: watch online

ITV's EU Decide programme documenting the Luton referendum is now available to view online via their 'catch up' facility - click here.

According to ITV, 3.1 million people watched the programme on Monday evening, equating to 13% of everyone watching TV at the time - tremendous publicity for the case against today's EU.

Eddie Izzard's contribution for the European Movement's 'Yes' campaign stands out in particular for absurdity more suited to his brand of surreal comedy than serious political comment.

People should, he says, support passing ever more decision-making power to unaccountable Brussels institutions if they "like people" and are "human beings." That's deep, man!

Trying to show off his international credentials, the fatuous Mr Izzard goes on to give a list of countries in which he has performed - Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, France and Holland. A collection of countries that either aren't members of the EU at all or have rejected in referendums major elements of further EU integration like euro membership or the EU Constitution.

"People are very similar" he says he has found on his travels. In those countries it certainly seems they have similar views on the EU. When given the chance to vote, they firmly reject giving the EU more power. Quite the contrary to Mr Izzard's outdated, integrationist views.

The 'Yes' campaign's choice of business advocate for the EU in Ireland was also an interesting one. Brendan Palmer, described as involved in 'Electronic recycling', clearly runs a business that has been a major beneficiary of EU regulations.

The EU's Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (2002/96/EC) forces manufacturers of electrical products to pay for them to be dismantled and recycled at the end of their working life.

Back in 2006, Josh Claman, UK head of Dell computers, said that the costs of these rules "absolutely will be passed onto the consumer". And what were those boxes we see being folded at Mr Palmer's 'electronic recycling' company?

So no doubt having done very nicely himself out of an EU Directive that has hiked the cost of electronic equipment for the vast majority, what a shock to find that Mr Palmer is something of a fan of the EU!

Monday, 20 October 2008

The Results: EU Decide, ITV Tonight

The DM has scored a resounding victory in the Luton EU referendum.

The head-to-head battle with the European Movement, filmed for ITV's Tonight programme, resulted in 63% voting 'No' to the Lisbon Treaty and a ground-breaking 54% voting to come out of the EU altogether.

The result reflects major disatisfaction not just with the prospect of further decision-making being passed to the EU but also with the extent of the EU's current powers, its costs and damaging effects of its activities.

The programme documenting the campaign was shown on ITV1 this evening and is typically seen by 3-6 million viewers.

Two questions were asked and the full results were as follows:

Question 1: Would you vote YES or NO to the Lisbon Treaty?

Yes: 27%
No: 63%
Don't know/Undecided: 10%

Question 2: Do you think we should stay IN or come OUT of the European Union?

Stay in: 35%
Come out: 54%
Don't know/Undecided: 11%

The DM's latest leaflet, headlined Break Free from the outdated EU (pictured above), was the main leaflet delivered by the 'No' side during the campaign.

Leading with the question What part of 'No' doesn't the EU understand?, it explains the real effect of the EU's powers and goes on to describe how a Europe of co-operating national democracies, free from the EU's superstate agenda and excessive cost, would benefit us all in many ways.

For example, more money for essential services, enhanced democracy, an improved environment, the protection of civil liberties, cheaper food and more effective international co-operation.

It was accompanied by a photocopied flyer accenting the sheer cash costs of the EU on one side, and explaining the EU's role in post office closures on the other.

With our Europeans for Diversity banner together with the involvement of friends in the European Referendum Campaign and clear solidarity with the French, Dutch and Irish peoples who have already voted 'No', the strong international theme of the 'No' side will also have played a major part in the success of the campaign.

EU Decide: 'Tonight', ITV1, 8pm

In recent weeks, ITV's Tonight programme - hosted by Sir Trevor McDonald - has staged a referendum on the European Union in the town of Luton.

Three thousand local residents were given the chance to vote 'Yes' or 'No' to the Lisbon Treaty, and whether to stay in or come out of the EU.

The Democracy Movement was asked to lead the 'No' side, and supporting DM activists on the campaign trail were the Labour MP for Luton North, Kelvin Hopkins, together with Thomas Rupp and Gayle Kinkead from the European Referendum Campaign.

Music producer and Pop Idol judge Pete Waterman also pledged his support for a 'No' vote, as did Bob Crow - RMT union leader and chair of Trade Unionists Against the EU Constitution.

During the campaign, the DM argued that:

1. The EU costs Luton: Britain pays far more to the EU than we get back -
£6 billion more every year, from 2007, equivalent to £115 million every single week. This means that for any money a Luton project receives from the EU, our government has sent more than twice that amount to the EU in the first place. The DM also focussed in particular on the EU's role in local post office closures.

2. The Lisbon Treaty is about centralising even more important decisions in unelected Brussels institutions. It means more ineffective and often damaging interference by the EU in how we manage big issues like our energy supplies, National Health Service, criminal justice and transport; a significant loss of influence over new EU laws; the EU becoming more like a country in its own right; more powers for the EU police force EuroPol; and much more. Yet the treaty does nothing to reform the EU's failing environmental policies, won't solve widespread waste and corruption, and doesn't make the EU more democratic.

3. There is a better way. Trade and co-operation between European countries is perfectly possible without having to pass ever more decisions over our lives to remote EU institutions in Brussels. The DM used the opportunity of the referendum to launch a new leaflet and campaign titled Break Free from the outdated EU, these leaflets being distributed during the campaign alongside a locally-focussed flyer.

The launch of campaigning was reported on ITV's Anglia News - a video clip can be seen here. During the campaign, DM campaign director Marc Glendening also took on the European Movement's Peter Luff on Chiltern FM and BBC Three Counties radio. The event also received widespread coverage in the local media.

The edition of the Tonight programme about this referendum - EU Decide - will be shown this evening on ITV1 at 8pm, having been postponed from its originally scheduled slot last Monday. Don't forget to watch, to find out how we got on.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Luton 'Yes' campaign challenged over PO closures

Ahead of the final few days of campaigning in the Luton EU referendum being organised by ITV's Tonight programme, the DM's Marc Glendening has challenged the 'Yes' camp to a public debate over the EU's role in local post office closures. Marc's letter in the Luton on Sunday newspaper reads:


As the organiser for the 'no' campaign in the ITV Luton EU Referendum campaign, can I challenge my opponents on the 'yes' side, through your paper, to a public debate on the issue of local post office closures?

The EU has enforced two postal services directives, as well as several procurement directives, which have had the effect of stripping the Royal Mail of its profit-making areas. Big companies have moved in and won the tenders.

This is why 2,500 post offices across the country, including five in Luton, are no longer economically viable.

The crisis confronting this aspect of national life is one example of how laws made in Brussels, by institutions that are politically unaccountable to ordinary voters in the member countries, can have devastating effects.

These laws cannot be reversed by our elected representatives as EU law is legally superior to decisions made by national parliaments.

I would be interested to know how those campaigning for more powers to be transferred to the EU through the Lisbon Treaty can possibly justify this to the people of Luton.

My opponents can name the date and place where this debate can take place. My organisation, the Democracy Movement, will be happy to pay the full costs of the meeting.

Marc Glendening
Campaign director
Democracy Movement, Hammersmith Road, London

Three thousand Luton voters are taking part in the referendum. Votes must be returned by post to arrive by 5pm on Thursday 9 October. The programme will be broadcast on ITV at 8pm, Monday 13 October.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Mandelson's return to the Cabinet

Commentators are struggling to explain the surprise return of Peter Mandelson to the Cabinet.

This is the man who was twice previously forced to resign from the government over a loan from a ministerial colleague and then allegations of misconduct regarding a passport application for the Hinduja brothers.

Theories being bandied around include Gordon Brown's desperation to access Mandelson's 'electoral skills' (but really ... how hard was it to score a big win in the 1997 general election?).

More ridiculous is the 'all hands on deck' spin that his experience as EU Trade Commissioner is so invaluable towards easing the credit crisis that it warrants him quitting the Commission immediately and becoming Business Secretary.

So could the shock move in fact, just possibly, have anything to do with this - internal EU circles perhaps having since ascertained that its implications run wider than at first apparent from the Sunday Times piece?

Could there have emerged an urgent need to avoid a top-level scandal and damaging resignation for the EU at this delicate, treaty-faltering time - a
nd Gordon has helped the EU out of a tight spot?

Perhaps we'd better look forward to the public release of the conclusions of the promised "comprehensive and thorough" investigation into that interesting case of Mr Mandelson's corrupt official.